In Canada, study permit holders are required to actively pursue their studies.
This means, among other things, remaining enrolled at a designated learning institution, making timely and reasonable progress towards completing your study program, and maintaining your immigration status.
Actively Pursuing Your Studies
Study permit holders are required to actively pursue their studies. You should be enrolled in a full-time or occasionally part-time credit-load to be considered actively pursuing your studies. However, in order to work in Canada on a study permit, you will need to maintain full-time status.
Each institution determines its own definition of full-time studies. However, full-time studies usually mean a minimum of 9 credits (3 courses) per semester.
As required by law, Canadian Designated Learning Institutions periodically report on each international student’s enrollment status to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Canadian immigration officers impose conditions on your study permit. These may include one or more of the following:
the type of studies or course you may take;
the educational institution you may attend;
the location of your studies;
the time and period of your studies;
the times and places at which you shall report for medical examination or observation;
the times and places at which you shall report for the presentation of evidence of compliance with applicable conditions;
the prohibition of engaging in employment; or
the duration of your stay in Canada
Failure to comply with these conditions can have serious consequences.
Study Permit Renewal
You must apply before the expiration of your study permit if you would like to continue studying in Canada. Schools recommend you apply at least three months before the expiry of your status, to allow for processing time. If you apply for extension, you must stay in Canada and meet the conditions of your original study permit (i.e.: you cannot quit school and begin working).
Expired Study Permits
If you study permit expires and you have not applied for an extension, you must stop studying and/or working immediately, as you will be considered out-of-status.
If you fall out-of-status, you must apply for a restoration of status. You will have 90 days from the day your study permit expires to apply for this restoration. This application can only be done inside Canada and you will need to remain in the country until a decision is made on your application for restoration of status. The restoration process can take several months and there are no guarantees that your application for a new study permit will be successful.
Lost Study Permits
You will need to ask for a replacement by launching an application called a “verification of status or replacement of an immigration document.” In these cases you may continue studying in Canada but you should not leave until you obtain a copy of your study permit.
Taking a Semester Break
If you would like to take a semester off, it could affect your study permit and ability to work. Check with your international student advisor if you would like to take time away from your studies.
Regular and Scheduled Breaks
A regular or scheduled break is defined as a summer holiday, reading week, winter holiday, or transition period between graduation and receiving a post-graduation work permit. According to IRCC, a consecutive four-month break can only be taken:
once in a calendar year; and
students must have had full-time enrollment before and after the term that is considered a scheduled break.