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While at U of T

After getting permission to come to Canada and begin your studies, it’s important that you maintain your status. This will allow you to continue your studies without interruption. Here are some scenarios that will help you understand your rights and responsibilities related to your legal status in Canada:

Important

  • Set a reminder for yourself at least 6 months before your passport and/or permit expires. That’ll give you time to deal with renewing them.
  • Keep a copy of the photo page of your passport and of any visas or permits you have in a safe place. If your passport and/or permit is lost, having a copy can make replacing them easier.

It is important to apply for a new permit before your current permit expires. If you do so from within Canada, you are allowed to remain in Canada until IRCC makes a decision about your application. In that case, from the expiry date of your current permit, until a decision is made by IRCC, you have maintained status. If the application is approved, you have the new status. If it is refused, you are out of status (see the next section).

Your legal rights and responsibilities under maintained status depend on your current immigration status in Canada, and the status you are applying for. 

Student to Student: You are an international student with a study permit and have applied within Canada for an extension of your study permit before it expires. In this case, you may continue your studies in Canada while you wait for a decision. Additionally, if the original permit allows you to work while in Canada, you may continue your employment. The right to continue to study and/or work during maintained status is only valid if you remain in Canada during the period between your original permit’s expiry and the date a decision is made. 

Other status to student: You are a temporary resident of Canada (ie. a visitor or a worker) who has applied within Canada for a study permit before your current permit expires. In this case, you are allowed to remain in Canada while you wait for a decision on your new permit, but you are not allowed to study until your study permit is approved.

Student to Post-Graduation Work Permit: You are an international student with a valid study permit and have applied within Canada for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Special rules for the transition may allow you to begin working full-time under your study permit. In this case, if your study permit expires after you have applied for your PGWP, your maintained status will allow you to continue to work while you wait for a decision on the PGWP application. 

If you are in Canada and your study permit expires before you submit an application to extend it or change your status to visitor or worker, you will be considered out of status. You will need to apply to restore your status no more than 90 days after the expiration of your status. In this situation, you will be required to pay an additional $229 CAD fee to restore your student status, as well as the regular $150 CAD processing fee for the study permit extension.  A Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL) is not required for a restoration of status application.

You are not allowed to study or work until a decision is made on your restoration of status application.

This application can only be processed if you remain in Canada. If you leave the country, your application may be cancelled. In this case, you would have to submit a new application outside Canada

The number of courses required to be part-time or full-time varies among the different Faculties and Colleges at U of T. In order to determine whether your registration status is part-time or full-time, please contact your Registrar’s Office.

Part-time registered international students are still in compliance with the rules of their study permit; full-time registration is NOT the minimum required registration status. However, part-time registered international students are NOT authorized to work in Canada. There are two exceptions to this rule: first, if you have always maintained full-time status in every academic term until the very last term, you can work during that final term even if you are part-time registered; and second, you can usually work during scheduled breaks, even if you happen to be enrolled in a part-time course load during that scheduled break (note that students can only work during a scheduled break if they were full-time registered during the term immediately before that scheduled break).

Students are not expected to maintain full-time enrolment during scheduled breaks in the academic year. If you are not clear whether your program has a scheduled break, undergraduate students can check with their Registrar’s Office and graduate-level students can use this SGS Calendar search tool to view the ‘typical registration sequence’ for their specific degree program (if a term is not included in that sequence, then it is a scheduled break if it is between two regular terms).

In order to qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), immigration regulations require an international student to have completed their degree requirements on a full-time basis, without any unauthorized gaps (see below on this page). However, one exception to this full-time requirement is that students can be part-time during their final term of study (not the whole final year) and still be eligible for a PGWP.

A condition of a study permit is that international students are expected to be actively enrolled in their program of study as long as they are in Canada. Taking a gap/leave may affect your legal status and especially your eligibility to stay or work in Canada.

Under current immigration regulations, a student who takes a leave/gap from their studies will still be considered as actively enrolled if the leave/gap is authorized by the school and lasts less than 150 days. Contact your Registrar’s Office to ask whether they can support an authorized leave. In this case, you would not lose your legal status. You can remain in Canada during an authorized leave, but you are prohibited from working. If you will not resume your studies within 150 days, you should do either of the following: 

  • change your status to Visitor (which requires a detailed explanation of why you want to stay in Canada); or
  • leave Canada within 150 days from your last enrolment date/last date you were studying. 

An authorized leave of absence that lasts less than 150 days will not affect your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) if you had a valid reason for taking the leave/gap. If the authorized leave of absence is longer than 150 days, you may still qualify for the PGWP if you followed the guidance above and the immigration officer accepts your explanation. If your faculty/program cannot offer an authorized leave, you may be considered ineligible for the PGWP. 

If you are considering a leave of absence (authorized by the university or not), please book an appointment with an International Student Immigration Advisor to discuss your situation. 

You may be able to do some work using your study permit, while other work may require you to get a work permit. Eligibility for these options depends on your personal situation. Find more information about working in Canada.

Your study permit requires you to be actively pursuing studies at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). If you are required to stop studying, you have to pay attention to your immigration status.

If the suspension is shorter than 150 days, you can remain in Canada, and you do not need to change your immigration status.

If the suspension is for more than one term, you have three options:

  1. Enrol in another DLI (could be a college or university) and notify IRCC of the change of institution;
  2. Leave Canada within 150 days of the suspension date; or,
  3. Change immigration status by applying to extend your stay as a visitor (which requires a detailed explanation of why you want to stay in Canada).

Important

Suspended students are not allowed to work on or off-campus until they return to full-time studies. See our On & Off-Campus Work page for more information.

Suspended students do not automatically remain enrolled in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) or their supplemental coverage through their student union. If you intend to stay in Canada during your suspension, we encourage you to connect with the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) team about ongoing coverage if you are planning to remain in Canada during any period that you are not enrolled.

If you leave Canada, you should be able to return using the same Study Permit and TRV/eTA (if applicable) if they have not expired. It is recommended you have a confirmation of course re-enrolment from your registrar’s office to show upon entry to Canada. Find out more about entering Canada.

If you will start your studies at the new school/Designated Learning Institution (DLI) within 150 days of finishing or stopping your studies at U of T, you can remain in Canada without changing your immigration status. However, if your studies will resume after more than 150 days, and you want to remain in Canada during that time, you will have to change your legal status to visitor.

Immigration regulations state that a study permit can be considered invalid 90 days from when you stop studying. If you leave your studies and are not transitioning into other studies in Canada, you should plan to leave Canada within that period, or change immigration status by applying to extend your stay as a visitor (which requires a detailed explanation of why you want to stay in Canada).

If you see a mistake on your permit, how to solve it depends on whether or not IRCC officials were the ones that made the mistake or whether your situation has just changed.

If the error on your study permit is the result of a change in your circumstances and is not based on an IRCC error, or you want a later expiry date on your permit you must apply for a new permit.

If the mistake was made by IRCC (e.g. wrong name or other personal details, missing remarks allowing employment – if you applied with a letter of acceptance to a degree program, etc.), you can ask for an amendment to your permit.

The amendment process requires you to mail the application to an office in Ottawa. You must also send:

  • your actual current study permit (not a copy);
  • a copy of the acceptance letter or confirmation of enrollment used when you applied for your current study permit, and;
  • a current confirmation of enrollment.

It will likely take more than one month for a new study permit with the same expiry date but the correct conditions to be sent to your Canadian mailing address.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of your current study permit when you send the actual permit.

If your study permit was lost or stolen, you must apply for a replacement for the lost study permit from IRCC. The replacement application is a paper application with a $30 processing fee. Follow the application instructions to submit your application. You may continue studying and working in Canada while the application is being processed as long as you remain in Canada. if you are planning to travel during this time, we recommend you only plan to return after obtaining the SP replacement (if possible).

If you are leaving Canada, it’s very important to plan ahead to ensure that you will have all the necessary documents to re-enter.

To re-enter Canada, you’ll need a valid passport and a valid study permit. If your study permit has expired and you are covered by ‘maintained status’ (noted above), you may be able to re-enter, but only as a visitor. That means you will not be allowed to continue studying and/or working until your new study permit is approved.

Depending on your citizenship, you may require a valid visa or electronic travel authorization. If you needed one to enter Canada originally, you will need one to re-enter (unless you travel only to the United States). 

We also recommend that you have a current confirmation of enrolment letter with you to show the Border Services Officer that you are actively pursuing your studies. Additional details are available on the Entering Canada page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A study permit cannot be issued beyond the expiry date of your passport. You’ll need to extend your passport before you can apply for aextension of your study permit. 

A common reason for ‘early’ study permit expiry is the passport expiry date, as a study permit cannot be issued beyond the expiry date of your passport. If your study permit expires early, but not on the same date as your passport, check with the International Student Immigration Advisors to determine the cause. Either way, you’ll need to extend your study permit.

You can contact IRCC via web form if you have an IRCC application in process and need to:

  • ask about your application
  • give new information about your application
  • change your contact information
  • add, change or remove a representative
  • report a technical problem

If you are inside Canada, you can try calling the IRCC call centre at 1-888-242-2100. Note: Due to the high volume of callers, you should expect to be placed on hold and may need to try calling several times before being able to speak with an agent.

Most IRCC offices in Canada are not open to the public, or are only open by appointment for issues relating to permanent residency or Canadian citizenship.

Check out our Resources page for more support.