International students pursuing post-secondary programs of study in Canada may need to change schools or their programs of study within the same college or university. The current immigration rules allow doing it, subject to any conditions specified in the study permit and provided that the reason for the change is reasonable. The student will have to demonstrate that he or she is making reasonable progress towards the completion of their course or program of study.
It is important to remember that there is a time limit allowed for the transfer from one school to another. If you decided to change a school and stopped studying at your college/university, you must start or resume your studies at the new school within 150 days. Should you fail to do that, you must submit an application to Immigration Canada to change your status, for example, for that of a visitor or leave the country immediately. The reason for such strict requirements is that the failure to resume your studies within 150 days will be considered non-compliance with your study permit conditions.
All study permit holders must actively pursue their course or program of study, while they are in Canada. The following guidelines, recently published by Immigration Canada, will help you assess whether you are in compliance with the condition of your study permit.
Full-time versus part-time studies
You will be considered compliant even if you study on a part-time basis. However, part-time studies may make you ineligible for an open work permit after you graduate. In order to obtain a post-graduation work permit, you must have continuously studied full-time in Canada.
Taking a leave from studies
If you must take a leave from studies because of a medical condition, pregnancy, emergency, death or illness of a family member, or other serious reason, your leave should not be longer than 150 days. If the leave is longer, you must change the conditions of your stay in Canada.
Changing the start date of your studies
Sometimes, you may need postpone or move the start date of your program to the next semester. In such a case, your educational institution must approve your new start date. A new Letter of Acceptance will usually be required. The new start date must be within 150 days, otherwise, you should change your status or leave the country.
Change of status and how it affects your future studies
Let’s say you were unable to begin your studies within 150 days and had to apply to change your status and eventually you were issued a visitor record. If your previous study permit is still valid, you can resume your studies any time. However, if you transfer from college/university to another, you must update your DLI number in your Immigration Canada online Account. If you transfer from one program of study to another at the same college/university, you are not required to report the change to Immigration Canada.
Spouses and children of full-time students
If the spouse of a full-time international student has an open work permit, the work permit remains valid even if the spouse who is the student changes his or her status to that of a visitor.
Similarly, if the full-time student (parent) changes her status to visitor, the children are allowed to continue to study without a study permit, as long as the parent’s previous study permit is still valid. If the study permit has expired, the children have to apply for their own study permit from inside Canada. 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).
Off campus employment
During any leave from studies, including school closures, study permit holders cannot work on campus or off campus, as they are no longer full-time students.
If you are found to be non-compliant with your study permit conditions, an exclusion order can be issued to you. Working or studying without authorization will also negatively affect future immigration applications. For instance, a subsequent study/work permit cannot be issued until six months have passed since you stopped working or studying without authorization or failed to comply with conditions of your study permit.
There are a number of exemptions to the above rules. For example, the rules are not applicable to the following individuals/situations: refugee claimants and their family members, protected persons, destitute students, a family member of a foreign national who resides in Canada and is a study or work permit holder, and some other situations.
For more information about study and work permits, please feel free to contact us.