How to Maintain a Valid Immigration Status in Canada

International students must have a valid study permit to study in Canada for longer than 6 months unless exempt. Therefore, international students are responsible for maintaining valid immigration status and following Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regulations while studying in Canada. 

To remain in compliance with your study permit conditions, an international student must: 

  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution(DLI), such as VCC 
  • actively pursue your studies and make progress towards completing your program 
  • inform IRCC if you changed your DLI to VCC 
  • not take authorized leaves longer than 150 days from your study program 
  • maintain study permit validity and stop your studies if no longer meet the requirements of being a student 

At Vancouver Community College (VCC), international students are required to be enrolled in every term of their chosen program, except during scheduled breaks. These breaks are determined in advance by the program department. In accordance with  IRCC regulations, VCC is obligated to report the academic status of international students to ensure compliance with study permit conditions. 

If an international student is no longer enrolled at VCC, they have up to 150 days to do one of the following: 

  • start another program at VCC 
  • start another program at another DLI (refer to change DLI 
  • change their visa status to a visitor or worker (if eligible) 
  • leave Canada 

As an international student, if you take an unscheduled break from your program or if you enrolled as a part-time student (except for the last academic term), that may impact your eligibility for the following: 

Please visit Assessing Study Permit Conditions on the IRCC’s website to learn more. 


VCC Full-Time Academic Status for Immigration Purposes

Cohort Model: VCC programs are structured for international students to maintain a full-time academic status for the duration of their studies. Many of VCC's programs follow a cohort model, meaning students are automatically enrolled in courses by the college. This model requires students to adhere to a predetermined progression plan that aligns with the program's curriculum, ensuring they start, advance through, and graduate alongside their cohort with a fixed schedule. 

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to drop one or more courses due to extenuating circumstances, it's crucial to discuss your options with both your program department and the International Education (IE) Office. Withdrawing from or failing courses may result in the inability to re-enroll in those courses in the future, potentially leading to a part-time term or an unscheduled break in your studies as well as a delay in graduation. Such gaps can affect your PGWP eligibility. For guidance or to explore your options, please reach out to the IE Office to schedule an advising appointment with our team. 

University Transfer: International students in University Transfer programs must register for a minimum of 9 credits each term (winter, spring/summer, and fall) to maintain full-time academic status throughout their program. University Transfer students do not have a term scheduled break. 


Part-Time Academic Status for Immigration Purposes

VCC programs are not designed to allow for part-time academic status for international students. However, circumstances (i.e.: failing or withdrawing from course(s)) may lead students to be enrolled with part-time academic status, which could impact their work and PGWP eligibility. Please contact the IE Officeto book anadvising appointment with our team if necessary. 


Scheduled Breaks

Regularly Scheduled Breaks: VCC programs typically include scheduled break(s) within the program duration. The timing of these breaks is specific to each program department and may differ depending on your program's start date. To identify when your scheduled breaks occur, please contact your program department directly. 

Additionally, a brief break usually occurs between consecutive terms, starting the day after you complete all your coursework for one term and ending the day before the next term begins. For instance, if your final exams conclude on April 15 and the next semester starts on May 2, then your break would be from April 16 to May 1. Remember to also check the college closure dates for any additional breaks. 


Working during Scheduled Breaks

International students can work full-time during a scheduled break, as long as they maintained full-time academic status before and after the break. Please visit the IRCC website for further details on regularly scheduled breaks. 


Full-Time or Part-Time Course Load During a Regular Scheduled Break

International students may have the option to enroll in a full-time or part-time course load during a regular schedule break, should they choose to do so, while still retaining the ability to work full-time. This opportunity can be particularly beneficial for students wishing to retake courses they may not have passed in previous terms. It's crucial, however, to understand that to qualify as a scheduled break, this period must be an official part of the program's structure, and students must have been enrolled in a full-time capacity before and after this break.

If you decide to take part-time courses during your scheduled break, you are advised to include an explanation letter in your future PGWP application as the IRCC officer reviewing your transcript may not be aware that this is a scheduled break period and may interpret that you are taking part-time studies during an academic term 

VCC does not issue scheduled break confirmation letters without receiving a request letter from IRCC. This letter is not issued for employment purposes. Instead, students can utilize the email communication they received regarding their scheduled break when they commenced their program or refer to the program website if the information is available. 


Part-time Continuing Studies courses at VCC

If you're a temporary resident interested in enrolling in short-term, part-time Continuing Studies courses, for more detailed information, please visit our "Temporary Residents Registering in Continuing Studies Part-time Courses" page. 


The content on this page reflects the information available at the time of its publication. It is important to acknowledge that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other government departments regularly revise their policies. For the latest information, please visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. 

Latest Updated: May 26, 2024