I love Nigeria. There’s a centre of excellence. We have a food basket. There’s no healthcare. We have our own coal city.  There’s no light. We have the nation’s paradise. OMG, get out while you can. And of course, a centre of commerce.

That said.

Should you feel the need to give the hair under your wig or your sideburns a continuous, permanent taste of abroad breeze ⁠— Canadian breeze to be precise — make sure to read the rest of this article.

I spoke with a woman living in Toronto. Her beauty is a little too dangerous so she asked to remain anonymous for world peace. 

She put us mainly through her process for moving in 2013 and finding cheap accommodation in Toronto. I added all the cool spots to visit and some random Toronto trivia.

What documents do I need to travel to Canada?

Okay, first. Before gathering your documents – making the move to another country and leaving the family and life you’ve always known is a big deal. Do some soul searching to be certain this is the right move to make.
After five minutes of intense self-scrutiny, call your transcript plug back in university, you’ll be needing that. JK, moving is a big deal).

Our source moved to Canada with a student visa, following which she got a work permit that allowed her to remain in Canada to work, before getting a Permanent Residency. Here are some of the documents she needed:

  • Offer of admission from a Canadian learning institution.
  • Proof of acceptance into said institution.
  • Passport.                            
  • Passport photographs.
  • Police report stating you have not engaged in criminal activity.
  • Proof of payment of the visa application fees.
  • Past academic qualifications i.e B.sc certificate, WASSCE certificate and any other necessary academic certifications for the application.
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) explaining the plans for study.
  • Proof of financial support/sufficient funds to cater to your needs in school.

Back when she applied in 2012, you had to apply for the visa in person at the Canadian embassy; but these days, VFS global, a visa service firm, handles all of the documentation. It took her three months to get her visa approved, following which she had to do a medical 

Oh no. They denied my Canadian visa application.

And took the non-refundable visa application fee, the sharks.

Now because our source did not experience a denial; I had to turn to the custodians of knowledge on visa applications in Nigeria — the good people of Nairaland.

Should a denial happen; you can apply to receive the GCMS notes on your application. These notes provide a detailed record of your file, the documents received from you and notes from the visa officers that reviewed the file at each stage.

From the notes, you’ll discover that a denial can be for any number of reasons, some of which are:

Travel history.


The Visa Officers didn’t see enough evidence of travel in the past to believe you would return to Nigeria after studying (with good reason 👀). The people of Nairaland informed me that most times, this isn’t a stand-alone reason for a denial and is usually compounded by one of reasons I’ll be listing shortly.

To remedy this, in your statement of purpose when re-applying, make sure to convince the visa officer that you do not pose a risk of no-return. Taking care to list the reasons why you are certain to come back to Nigeria. 

Length of proposed stay and purpose of visit.

In situations like these, the visa officers (VO) probably aren’t convinced you’re going to study or that you need the degree you’re applying for. Or it could be that the course of study chosen isn’t consistent with your work background and academic qualifications.

For the length of time, the VO may not be convinced you require as much time as you’re applying for to pursue the degree; or perhaps that you’ll gain the required experience within that time frame.

To fix this, make sure to select a program compatible within your academic/work background and be sure to convince the visa officer in your SOP, that the length of time and program are absolutely necessary for your progress in life and such.

Insufficient funds for studies and personal experiences.

Here, the visa officer isn’t convinced you have enough money to support yourself when living in Canada. This could be because a large amount of money was deposited into an inactive account shortly before the visa application – don’t do that.

Also, it could be because the sponsor (a person who undertakes to handle your financial needs, usually a parent), contradicts the amount you’ve declared to be available in your visa application forms.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, make sure you and your sponsor are on the same page with the amount of money available and be sure to fill out the forms carefully. In the event that funds truly are low, please endeavour to save as much as you can, to a reasonable threshold, before applying for the visa.

Show me the Permanent Residency Way.

There are about three ways to get a Canadian Permanent Residency: 

Express entry, provincial nominee and family sponsorship. We’ll be focusing on the Express entry. The provincial nominee, family sponsorship and getting a Candian citizenship will be reviewed in another article.

Now, for a run-through of the Express Entry System.

You’ll need to create a profile with all your information on the CIC website (Citizen and Immigration Canada) here. Then you’ll need to complete an education evaluation through WES – World Education Services, to whom you’ll send your transcript  (see why you need a uni plug!) for evaluation.

After that, you’ll do the dreaded IELTS exam, the higher your grade, the more points you get.

There’s a whole point system. wWith completing the WES evaluation, getting top marks in the IELTS, age, marital status and close family in Canada ready to take care of you, these increase your chances of obtaining the residency.

For single people, you’re going to need CAD$11k and around CAD $18k for married couples to show you’re financially capable of the move. Where you meet the cut-off set by the Canadian embassy, you’ll be sent an invitation to apply (ITA).

After this, you can submit the documents already listed, where the embassy finds it satisfactory, you’ll be told to do the requisite medicals – blood work, pee test etc

After this, you’ll be granted your visa, along with a landing document which you’ll present at the Canadian port of entry.

Great, they finally approved my visa. Now, where do I live?

Random fact: a 2011 study showed 50% of Nigerian immigrants live in Toronto

If it’s a student visa, you’re probably going to stay in student accommodation. But because the honest, greater goal is actually living in Canada after school, and our source is familiar with the Toronto area — here are some of the lowest costing neighbourhoods in the Toronto province of Canada:

Scourborough SW where the average monthly rent is around CAD $936 (₦254,592), Scarbourough Guildwood – CAD $950 or ₦258,400, York South – Weston CAD $957, Humber River – Black Creek.-  CAD $1011.
(Yes, I do realise those are monthly payments. Canada has light, okay)

Now first-timers will probably get basement apartments or rent with a roommate to reduce costs. These basement apartments get very cold, so be sure to have a heater or thermostat to regulate temperature. Getting a room within a house can also save you money.

But, if you’re a big spender, you can stay in areas like York Mills- Windfield, where the average home can set you back CAD $3.40 million, I won’t bother converting that. Or Bridle Path with its  CAD $2.24 million price tagged homes or Forest Hills – CAD $3.18 million.

Random fact: Drake has a home in Bridle Path.

Great, I have a home to return to after Friday nights. Now where to go on Friday nights?

Bar Chef comes highly recommended. So does the Tilt Arcade Bar and The Voodoo Espresso and Cocktail Bar. 

Okay, I miss Nigeria but not enough to return. Where can I get nostalgic jollof rice in Toronto?

Well, there is a place called Naija Jollof which our source hasn’t visited; but which must have some pretty fire jollof to have it in their Instagram handle.

Not jollof, but there is suya in Scarborough. 

Plus, a Lagos lounge in Toronto.

The food hit the spot, but where can I meet other Nigerian people in Toronto.

Probably a religious institution. There is a Nigerian Canadian Muslim Association where you can meet Nigerians of your faith and there are specifically Nigerian churches present as well. E.g – Nigerian Presbyterian Church Toronto, Jesus House Toronto etc.

I also found out two minutes ago, there is a thing called Nigerian dating where you can meet singles in your area. But that’s Google’s recommendation, not mine.

There’s a ton to do in Ontario. Visiting attractions like Casa Loma, The Royal Ontario Museum, making observations from the CN Tower or simply just staring in disbelief at the cold or the bulbs in your house that won’t go off unless you flip a switch.

With this little information on living abroad, I hope I’ve been able to aid and not completely befuddle your plans to move to Toronto.

Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 9 A.M. (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.

P.S – We spoke to Wale who lives in Canada early in the series, check out his Abroad Life interview here.


Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.