On September 26, 2022, IRCC shared a program update stating that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Inland Enforcement Officers can now ask international students in Canada for proof that they are actively pursuing their studies and are in compliant with their study permit conditions.
However, earlier, the CBSA could only make such requests if someone entered and exited Canada. So, now border services officers, inland enforcement officers, and regional program officers can ask international students to prove that they are complying with their study permit conditions.
This is a an important major change and below are the details on how an officer can assess the study permit conditions.
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How are study permit conditions assessed?
The officer considers multiple factors when assessing if a student complies with their study permit conditions. Below is the summary of considered factors.
A. Enrolment at a DLI
The officer will first verify if the student is enrolled at a DLI. All international students who applied for a study permit on or after June 1, 2014, should be enrolled in a Designated Learning Institute (DLI).
In case a learning institution no longer qualifies for designated status after the study permit is issued, the student may:
- Continue to study at that institution until your study permit becomes invalid
- Or transfer to another DLI
However, students cannot apply for a study permit renewal at an institution that no longer has DLI status.
B. Actively pursuing studies
Officers use the following 9 guidelines when assessing study permit holders’ compliance with “actively pursue their studies” requirements.
1. Studying Full Time and Part-time:
IRCC requires study permit holders to maintain part-time status with their educational institution to be considered actively pursuing their studies.
However, to be regarded as actively pursuing their studies in Quebec, students must remain enrolled full-time with the educational institution.
2. The progress made in completing the courses
Students must show that they are on track to finish their courses within the program’s authorized time by demonstrating that they have made reasonable progress.
3. Changing schools or academic programs within the same institution
Students pursuing post-secondary education in Canada are permitted to switch institutions or academic programs within the same institution, provided that doing so is not prohibited under the terms of their study permit.
However, suppose the student has frequently switched schools or programs of study. In that case, the officer considers the student’s reasons for changing schools to determine if they are actively pursuing their studies.
In circumstances where students do not seem to make reasonable progress towards completing their Canadian credentials even after multiple program or institutional changes, the officer may determine that the student is not fulfilling their study permit conditions.
As with multiple program or institutional changes, the student may not be actively pursuing their studies.
4. Taking a leave from studies
Even though taking a leave from a program of studies in Canada is permittable, the leave should not exceed 150 days, and the student’s DLI must approve all leaves.
A student on leave is considered to be actively pursuing their studies if they start or resume their studies within 150 days of the day the leave began (that is, the day the institution granted the leave).
Therefore, a student should choose one of the following options if they do not resume their studies within 150 days:
- Change their status (to visitor or worker)
- Leave Canada
The examples for leave could include the following:
- Medical emergency, illness or injury
- family emergency
- Death or severe illness of a family member
- Change in the program of study in the same institution
5. Deferred enrollment
In exceptional circumstances, a student may be required to postpone the beginning of their program until the next semester. If a student delays the commencement of their program, the DLI must formally approve the change. In some cases, the DLI imposes the deferral.
However, suppose the study permit holder is in Canada at the time of deferral and wishes to stay. In that case, they must begin their studies the following semester or within 150 days of the deferred enrollment is confirmed, whichever comes first.
6. School closures
As a result of strikes or permanent school closures, students may be required to postpone their studies (for example, if a school file for bankruptcy and is no longer in operation).
Any time taken to transition to a new program, change status, or leave Canada should not exceed 150 days from the school’s closing date to determine if a student is enrolled and actively pursuing their studies.
7. Changing Status
If a student changes their status to visitor or worker, they can resume their studies as long as their previous study permit is still valid.
Suppose the student’s study permit is about to expire when they resume their studies. In that case, they must apply to extend their study permit in Canada 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 their previous study permit expiry date will maintain their temporary resident status.
8. Working either on or off campus is not permitted during any study leave.
Study permit holders cannot work on or off campus during any leave from studies, including school closures. Again, it is because they are not considered full-time students and are not on a regularly scheduled break.
9. Co-op and internship placements are not permitted during any study leave.
Students with a valid co-op or internship work permit may not work during leave or school closure and may not use their co-op or internship work permit to work on or off campus.
C. Study permit conditions compliance evidence
If an officer requests evidence, students need to provide proof of how they satisfy their study permit conditions.
Students can use the following as their evidence. However, they need official documentation from their DLI confirming:
- Official enrollment status
- Granted leave, including their reason for leave and date of approval
- Current and previous transcripts
- Official withdrawal letter
- Character references such as letters from professors
- Any other relevant document
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