May 23, 2014 – Important changes are coming to Canada’s International Student Program. These changes are meant to improve access to Canada for international students while at the same time reducing the potential for fraudulent use of the program. As of June 1, 2014:
- Study permits will only be issued to applicants who have been accepted for studies at Designated Learning Institutions
- Students will be required to actively pursue their studies while in Canada
- Full-time students enrolled at designated institutions will be permitted to work part-time off campus during their studies and full-time during scheduled breaks without a work permit.
What is a Designated Learning Institution?
As of June 1, 2014 each province and territory in Canada will be responsible for designating post-secondary institutions that may enroll international students. A list of Designated Learning Institutions will be released on June 1, 2014. All primary and secondary schools in Canada will be automatically considered Designated Learning Institutions and will not be included on the list.
In order to qualify for a study permit after June 1, 2014, you must be in receipt of an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution.
If you already hold an acceptance letter from a Canadian post-secondary institution you should apply for a study permit before June 1, 2014. If your application is received before June 1, 2014 and your institution is not a designated learning institution, you will be permitted to renew your permit for up to 3 years in order to complete your program. This means that you must complete your program of study before June 1, 2017.
If you are already in Canada studying as an International Student you will, generally, be permitted to complete your program of study. If, after June 1, 2014, your institution is on the list of Designated Learning Institutions, then nothing changes – you can continue to renew your study permit and access the new work benefits of Canada’s International Student Program. If your institution is not included on the list of Designated Learning Institutions or if your institution loses its status you will still be permitted to renew your study permit but you must complete your program of study before June 1, 2017.
What does it mean to actively pursue studies?
Generally, this means you must remain enrolled in your studies and making progress towards completing your program. You may be asked by immigration officers to provide evidence demonstrating your enrollment and academic status. In addition, your institution will report to your enrollment and academic status to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This includes advising CIC that you have completed your program of study or have withdrawn from your program.
What about working off campus?
As of June 1, 2014, most full-time students on study permits in Canada will no longer require a work permit in order to work off-campus. Full-time students may work up to 20 hours per week during the regular academic year, and work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks from school. In addition, full-time students with study permits will no longer be required to wait six months before working. In order to work, full-time students must be enrolled and a Designated Learning Institution and must obtain a Social Insurance Number.
Full-time students studying English or French as a second language or participating in general interest or preparatory courses are not eligible to work during their studies.
If you have any questions about these new rules and how they affect you, please contact Green and Spiegel LLP.