Study Permits: Assessing study permit conditions

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Per subsection 220.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), study permit holders in Canada are subject to both of the following conditions:

  • They shall enroll at a designated learning institution (DLI) and remain enrolled at a DLI until they complete their studies.
  • They shall actively pursue their course or program of study.

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Assessment of study permit conditions

Officers should exercise their best judgment and take into account all relevant factors when assessing a student’s compliance with their study permit conditions.

Enrollment at a DLI

A foreign national who applied for a study permit on or after June 1, 2014, must be enrolled in a DLI.

As indicated in subsection R220.1(2), if a learning institution loses its designation status after the issuance of the study permit, the student may

  • continue to study at that institution until their study permit becomes invalid
  • transfer to an alternative DLI

However, a student may not apply for a study permit renewal to extend their attendance at an institution that has lost its designation status.

Actively pursuing studies

As of June 1, 2014, all study permit holders must actively pursue their course or program of study, while they are in Canada.

When assessing a study permit holder’s compliance with the condition to “actively pursue their studies”, officers should follow these guidelines:

A. Full-time and part-time studies

From an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) perspective, at a minimum, students must have part-time status with their institution to be considered to be actively pursuing their studies.

The province of Quebec requires students to maintain full-time status with their institution to be considered to be actively pursuing their studies. See more details on requirements for students in Quebec.

For more information on full-time and part-time studies, see Study permits: Other considerations.

B. Progress toward completion of courses

Students should be able to demonstrate that they are making reasonable progress toward the completion of their courses in the time allotted by the program.

C. Changing institutions or changing programs of study at the same institution

Students engaging in post-secondary studies in Canada are authorized to change institutions or programs of study within the same institution, provided they are not limited from doing so by conditions imposed on their study permit. However, to assess if a student who has changed institutions or programs of study a number of times should be considered to be actively pursuing their studies, the officer should consider the student’s reasons for the changes. In cases where multiple program or institutional changes do not appear to support the expectation that the student is making reasonable progress toward the completion of a Canadian credential, the officer may determine that the study permit holder has not fulfilled their study permit condition to actively pursue their course or program of study.

A student should begin or resume their studies at their new institution within 150 days from the day that they ceased or completed their studies at the previous institution. If a student does not resume their studies within 150 days, they should do either of the following:

If they do not change their status or leave Canada, they are considered non-compliant with their study permit conditions.

D. Leave from studies

Students may be required or may wish to take leave from their studies while in Canada. For the purpose of assessing if a student is actively pursuing their studies, any leave taken from a program of studies in Canada should not exceed 150 days from the date the leave commenced and must be authorized by their DLI.

A student on leave who begins or resumes their studies within 150 days from the date the leave commenced (that is, the date the leave was granted by the institution) is considered to be actively pursuing studies during their leave. If a student does not resume their studies within 150 days, they should do either of the following:

If they do not change their status or leave Canada, they are considered non-compliant with their study permit conditions.

In cases where a student has taken multiple periods of leave in Canada during their program of study, the officer should consider the student’s reasons for the various periods of leave. If the multiple periods of leave do not appear to support the expectation that the student is making reasonable progress toward the completion of their course or program of study in the time allotted by the course or program of study, the officer may determine that the study permit holder has not fulfilled the condition to actively pursue their course or program of study.

Examples of reasons for leave include but are not limited to the following:

  • medical illness or injury
  • pregnancy
  • family emergency
  • death or serious illness of a family member
  • change in program of study within the same institution, outside a regularly scheduled break
  • dismissals or suspensions (dependent on degree of severity)
  • postponed program start date (see Deferred enrollment for more information)

E. Deferred enrollment

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be required to defer their program’s start date to the next semester. If the student defers their program start date, it should be formally approved by the DLI. In some cases, the deferral is imposed by the DLI.

If the study permit holder is in Canada at the time of deferral, and they wish to remain in Canada, they must begin their studies the following semester or within 150 days from the date the deferred enrollment is confirmed, whichever comes first. Otherwise, they should do either of the following:

Note: In all deferral cases, students should obtain an updated letter of acceptance from the DLI.

F. School closures

Students may be required to abandon or put their studies on hold, as a result of strikes or permanent school closures (for example, if a school files for bankruptcy and is no longer in operation). For the purpose of assessing if a student is enrolled and actively pursuing their studies, any time taken to transition to a new program, change status or leave Canada should not exceed 150 days from the date the school closed.

G. Change of status

After changing their status to visitor or worker, students may resume their studies, using their previous study permit, as long as the study permit is valid.

If the study permit is about to expire when the student resumes their studies, the student must apply to extend their study permit in Canada, using the application to change conditions, extend your stay or remain in Canada as a student, before the expiry date.

Students who submit the “Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada As a Student” form [IMM 5709] before the expiry date of the previous study permit hold implied status [R183(6)].

Under implied status, study permit holders may continue their studies under the same conditions as their previous study permit if they applied to extend their stay in Canada as a student. However, if they applied to extend their stay as a visitor or worker, they may not pursue their studies when their current permit expires.

Note: When students transfer from 1 DLI to another, they must immediately update their DLI number in their My Account. Students who do not have an account should create an account. When students transfer from 1 program of study to another at the same DLI, they are not required to notify IRCC.

H. Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students (C42)

Full-time students who take a leave from studies that is longer than 150 days are required to do either of the following:

If the spouse or common-law partner of a full-time student is issued a work permit under C42 (Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students [C42]) before the change of status (either visitor or worker) of the student, the work permit (C42) of the spouse or common-law partner remains valid until it expires or becomes invalid.

I. Children of a full-time student

Full-time students who take a leave from studies that is longer than 150 days are required to do either of the following:

Even if the full-time student (parent) changes their status to visitor, their children may continue to study without a study permit, as long as the parent’s previous study permit is still valid.

In the case of a parent who holds a valid visitor record, due to taking a leave from their studies that was longer than 150 days, and whose study permit has expired, their children need to apply for their own study permit from inside Canada, as their parent is no longer authorized to work or study in Canada, per subsection 30(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

However, if the spouse of a full-time student who changed their status to visitor still holds a valid work permit, issued under Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption code C42, or an open study permit, the children continue to be authorized to study at the pre-school, primary or secondary level without a study permit. Minors studying in Canada at the preschool, primary or secondary level without a study permit, pursuant to subsection A30(2), can apply for a study permit from within Canada, pursuant to subparagraph R215(1)(f)(i).

J. Working on or off campus not authorized during any leave from studies

During any leave from studies, including school closures, study permit holders cannot work on campus or off campus, as they are not considered to be full-time students, are not on a regularly scheduled break and, therefore, do not meet the requirements of paragraph R186(f) or (v).

Learn more:

K. Co-op and internship placements not authorized during any leave from studies

Students who hold a valid co-op or internship work permit may not undertake a co-op or internship placement during leave or school closure and may not use their co-op or internship work permit to work on or off campus.

Evidence of compliance

In accordance with subsection R220.1(4), study permit holders must provide evidence of their compliance with their study permit conditions, under subsection R220.1(1), if an officer requests such evidence for either of the following reasons:

  • The officer has reason to believe the permit holder is not complying or has not complied with 1 or more of the conditions of their study permit.
  • The officer wishes to review the evidence as part of a random assessment of the overall level of compliance with the conditions.

Note for Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) inland officers: CBSA officers may exercise the authority of subsection R220.1(4) only as part of their immigration functions for port of entry examinations.

Examples of evidence

Examples of evidence that officers may request include but are not limited to the following:

  • official document from the institution confirming enrolment status
  • official document from the institution confirming the reason for leave and the date of approval
  • official document from the institution confirming the date the student formally withdrew from an institution or program of study
  • official document from the institution confirming the date the student was suspended or dismissed
  • official document from the institution confirming the date the student ceased studying
  • current and previous transcripts
  • character references (such as a note from a professor)
  • note from a medical practitioner certifying the medical need and length of leave required
  • documentation or letter attesting that the school has ceased operations and is no longer offering courses or programs of study
  • any additional and relevant documents, at the discretion of the officer

Non-compliance

Non-compliance with study permit conditions may result in enforcement action; that is, an exclusion order can be issued for non-compliance, per subparagraph R228(1)(c)(v).

Non-compliance with study permit conditions or engaging in unauthorized work or study may also negatively affect future applications that are made under the IRPA and IRPR. For example, a subsequent study permit or work permit may not be issued until a period of 6 months has passed, since the cessation of the unauthorized work or study or failure to comply with a condition, per section R221 and subsection R200(3).

Exemptions

In accordance with subsection R220.1(3), the following people are exempt from the study permit conditions under subsection R220.1(1):

  • a person in Canada who has made a refugee claim that has not yet been determined by the Refugee Protection Division as well as that person’s family members
  • a person in Canada on whom refugee protection has been conferred and their family members
  • a person who is a member of the Convention refugees abroad class or a humanitarian protected persons abroad class and their family members
  • a properly accredited diplomat; consular officer; representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any intergovernmental organization of which Canada is a member; the members of the suite of such a person; and the family members of such a person
  • a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of that visiting force under paragraph 4(c) of that Act, and their family members
  • a person who holds a study permit and has become temporarily destitute through circumstances beyond their control and beyond the control of any person on whom that person is dependent for the financial support to complete their term of study
  • a person whose study in Canada is under an agreement or arrangement between Canada and another country that provides for reciprocity of student exchange programs
  • a person who works in Canada as an officer of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service or of United States Customs carrying out pre-inspection duties, as an American member of the International Joint Commission or as a United States grain inspector, and their family members
  • a United States Government official in possession of an official United States passport who is assigned to a temporary posting in Canada and their family members
  • a family member of a foreign national who resides in Canada and is described as any of the following
    • a person who holds a study permit
    • a person who holds a work permit
    • a person who holds a temporary resident permit issued under subsection A24(1) that is valid for at least 6 months
    • a person who is subject to an unenforceable removal order
    • a person who is a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, including a person who has been designated as a civilian component of those armed forces
    • a person who is an officer of a foreign government sent, under an exchange agreement between Canada and one or more countries, to take up duties with a federal or provincial agency
    • a participant in sports activities or events in Canada either as an individual participant or as a member of a foreign-based team or Canadian amateur team
    • an employee of a foreign news company for the purpose of reporting on events in Canada
    • a person who is responsible for assisting a congregation or group in the achievement of its spiritual goals and whose main duties are to preach doctrine, perform functions related to gatherings of the congregation or group, or provide spiritual counselling
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