Blog — Student guide & Tips

Life as an international student in Montreal: 4 things to know

June 2023

Have you been officially accepted as an international student at a Montreal university? Congratulations! Get ready to experience the best student city in North America.* With our 4 essential things to know, you’ll be sure to get your adventure off to a flying start.

*QS Best Student Cities, 2022

1. Visas and immigration for international students in Canada

Like any country, Canada has certain administrative requirements for international students. But don’t panic: getting a Canadian student visa isn’t as complicated as you might think! Here are the key steps:

Find a program of study

First, you need to choose your program of study from one of Canada’s approved teaching institutions. The institution offering the program must be designated by the Canadian government. The good news is that all colleges and universities in Montreal are. So, the first step is really a question of formalities.

Be admitted

Before you can move on to the next steps in getting your international student visa, you first need to be admitted to your program. While this is a Canadian government requirement, every institution has its own admission criteria. It’s essential that you check the requirements carefully and gather as much information as you can!

Pay the tuition fees

Your international student visa won’t be delivered if your tuition fees haven’t been paid. Again, fees will depend on the program, the institution and several other factors.

Get your acceptance letter

Your college or university will send you an acceptance letter, confirming that they agree to take you on as an international student. This letter is very important; you will need it for your visa application.

Gather the required documents

A valid passport, proof of finances, proof of acceptance at an educational institution and additional documents may be required to progress with your student visa application. You’ll be given specific instructions about the documents you need to provide at each stage of your application.

Apply for your visa

Got everything you need? Now it’s time to send off your official application. To do this, you need to go to your nearest Canadian visa office. As well as filling out an application form, you’ll need to pay the application fees. In some cases, other documents and an interview may be required.

Get a medical exam

Some of the international students are subject to a medical exam to rule out contagious diseases.

Once you’ve successfully completed all of these steps, you can get your visa to travel, study and work in Canada!

2. Student accommodation and residences

Living in Montreal as an international student usually means renting accommodation or a room in a student residence. Rest assured, there are plenty of options!

The city offers a wide range of accommodation types designed to meet different needs. For example, you’ll find fully equipped student housing—such as Le Within—as well as shared apartments, individual rooms, studios and more.

We think the best way to go about your research is to think about these criteria:


Montreal is a big city, and its colleges and universities are spread out across different neighbourhoods. Some universities, such as Concordia and McGill, are downtown, while others, such as the Université de Montréal, are outside the city centre. This means it’s a really good idea to think about your location. For example, even if your university isn’t in the downtown area, it doesn’t mean you can’t live there! This is easy with Montreal’s public transit network.


Where you live during your studies will play an important role in your overall experience—and in your success. That’s why some student residences offer services and facilities such as communal spaces for study and socializing, concierge services and even catering. It’s worth looking into all these options to give yourself the best chance of success.


Rental costs for accommodation or student housing will vary according to location, services offered and other factors. This information should always be easily accessible, clear and detailed to help you compare options, plan visits, etc.

If you’d like to learn more about accommodation and student housing, check out our guide.


Discover Le Within’s unique student residences in downtown Montreal.

3. Language and culture

First thing’s first: French is spoken as much as English in Montreal. This goes for universities and colleges as well as elsewhere in the city. No matter what your first language is, if you can speak English or French, you’ll have no problem communicating!

Whatever language you speak, you’ll receive a warm welcome in Quebec—it’s part of the culture. The “cosmopolitan” aspect of the Montreal identity is a great example of this.

Curious to see the full picture? By exploring the city’s different neighbourhoods, you’ll get a more accurate idea of its character. Festivals, art galleries, restaurants from all over the world: these are just some of the attractions that will give you the full, iconic Montreal experience. Eight million tourists every year can’t be wrong!

4. The seasons

You might not think the seasons matter very much. But international students will tell you otherwise! In Canada, the change in seasons is more dramatic than in the United States or in Europe.

If you arrive in summer, you’ll experience the unbridled joy of the season in Montreal: months of warm weather, plus exciting, colourful festivals and events that bring the city’s neighbourhoods to life. When the school year begins, the temperature cools down and the city is decked out in rich fall colours. Plenty of activities continue in the fall months.

Around the end of November, cold weather arrives along with the first snowflakes of the Canadian winter. You’ll need a winter coat and snow boots to stay warm in the snowy streets. Properly dressed for the cold temperatures, you can enjoy the many fun winter activities popular in Quebec: beautiful snow-filled landscapes, skiing in the mountains, ice skating, themed activities and more.

Discover Le Within, just steps away from McGill and Concordia universities.