International Student Services (ISS)

Leave of Absence During Studies

International students with valid study permits are required to meet certain conditions to maintain their legal status in Canada, which includes “actively pursuing your studies.”

However, we understand that sometimes you may be required to take some time off of your studies for personal and/or health/medical reasons. 

This information explains your options and provides advice on how to maintain your legal status in Canada should you need to take a leave of absence from your program of study.

The length of the leave of absence may affect your status as a student and on your eligibility for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you complete your program.

Leave of Absence Up to a Maximum of 150 Days:

If you take a leave of absence that is less than 150 days, the IRCC considers you to be “actively pursuing your studies.” You will be considered as maintaining your study permit conditions throughout your leave, and you keep your eligibility for the PGWP. 

Leave of Absence That Exceeds 150 Days:

If you take a leave of absence longer than 150 days, you will not be considered to be “actively pursuing your studies,” after 150 days. You will be required to do one of the following to maintain the conditions of your study permit, that is, depending on if you wish to remain in Canada after 150 days or not. 

  • If you remain in Canada beyond the 150 days, you need to change your status to “Visitor” before the 150 days are up
  • If you are leaving Canada, you need to leave as soon as the 150 days are over. You can still use the same study permit and visa to return to Canada to resume your studies, as long as your documents are valid at the time you return to Canada. 

You may be contacted by the IRCC to verify your student status during the leave period, or during a future application process. We highly recommend if you plan to take a leave from your studies, to request an authorized leave letter from your Faculty. 

What information do I need to share with my Faculty when requesting the Leave of Absence letter?

  • Confirm with your Faculty the reason for requesting the Leave of Absence letter is for immigration purposes
  • Briefly explain the reason for your leave (without going into detail); for example, “personal” or “health” reasons.
  • Confirm the month your leave will start, and the month it will end; for example, “from January 2020 to April 2020”.

If you plan to take a leave of absence, we recommend you request the leave letter before your leave starts. 

If you have already taken a leave of absence and did not request a letter at the time, you should still request a leave of absence letter from your Faculty. Once you complete your program of study, you will need this letter to apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit.

If you have taken or plan to take a leave of absence from your studies, we strongly recommend visiting the International Services Centre in the Telus Centre, during office hours to discuss your situation with an International Student Advisor and to better understand your options.