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Can International Students Take a Semester off in Canada?

Updated: Sep 26, 2023


Welcome, ambitious learners and achievers! We are delighted to introduce you to the exciting world of studying abroad in Canada. As we all know, this journey can be immensely rewarding but also comes with its own set of challenges and complexities. At Ansari Immigration, we aim to ease your worries by addressing two crucial matters: course withdrawal and taking a break from a semester. Can international students take a semester off in Canada?

Animated GIF showing a list of responsibilities for study permit holders in Canada, including being enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution, actively pursuing studies, avoiding authorized leaves longer than 150 days, notifying authorities of any change in post-secondary schools, ending studies if student requirements are no longer met, and leaving Canada when the permit expires.
As a study permit holder, you need to meet a number of conditions. You may lose your student status and study permit if you don't meet these conditions. You may also have to leave Canada.

Navigating the Tightrope: Dropping a Class

Let's start with a story. Picture this: you're an international student named Alex. You've started the semester full of energy, taking on five challenging classes. But, halfway through, one particular class proves to be a steep uphill climb. The workload is heavier than you anticipated, and you're contemplating dropping it.

Here's what you need to remember: Canada doesn't explicitly prohibit dropping a class. However, if dropping that class means you'll fall below the threshold of a full-time student, it could violate your study permit terms. As the team at Ansari Immigration, we are always ready to guide students like Alex through such dilemmas to ensure a smooth academic journey.

When Life Happens: International students take a semester off

Now, let's talk about taking a semester off. Imagine you're another student, Isabella, who has a medical condition that requires her to take a break from her studies. The question is: can she take a semester off?

Isabella can indeed take an authorized leave, but it shouldn't exceed 150 days. This leave could be due to medical conditions, family emergencies, or any other reason authorized by the school. Isabella must resume her studies the next semester, even if it starts sooner than 150 days.

Understanding the Consequences of the conditions of your study permit

The big question now is: what happens if students like Alex and Isabella accidentally violate their study permit conditions? The consequences can be severe, including losing student status and study permit and potentially being asked to leave Canada. It's a scary thought, but that's where we come in. Ansari Immigration is here to guide you every step of the way, ensuring you stay on the right side of regulations.

What counts as an authorized leave from your studies?

There are a few cases where you may be able to take a leave of up to a maximum of 150 days from your program of studies and still be considered to be actively pursuing your studies.

You don’t need to tell us if you’re taking an authorized leave. However, if we ask for it, you must provide proof that your leave is

  • authorized by your DLI and

  • no longer than 150 days

It counts as authorized leave if

  • your school has authorized a leave from your study program for

    • medical reasons or pregnancy

    • family emergency

    • death or serious illness of a family member

    • any other type of leave your school authorizes

  • your school has closed permanently or because of a strike

  • you’ve changed schools

  • you or your school deferred your program start date

    • In this case, you must start your studies the next semester, even if it starts sooner than 150 days, and get an updated letter of acceptance.

You can’t work on or off campus during an authorized leave from your study program, even if your study permit says you’re allowed to work in Canada.

Proving Compliance: The Paper Trail

Proving compliance can be quite the paper trail, from providing official transcripts to documents confirming reasons for leaves of absence. It may seem daunting, but remember, you are not alone. We at Ansari Immigration are committed to helping you navigate this maze, ensuring you're always prepared for any eventuality.

Support and Resources

Remember, help is always at hand. As an international student, you have access to various resources, from counselling services at your school to community groups for international students. We at Ansari Immigration can also connect you with relevant resources to ensure you have the support you need during your study journey.

In conclusion, we understand that regulations can be complex and even intimidating. But they are not insurmountable obstacles. With the right guidance from Ansari Immigration and the support of the vibrant international student community, you can conquer these challenges and enjoy a fruitful study experience in Canada.

If you have any questions or need support, don't hesitate to reach out to us at Ansari Immigration. We are here to help you navigate your journey, one semester at a time. Because your success is our mission.

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