Leave and Return to Canada on Student Visa

Posted on 13/05/2019

Authorized School Leave in Canada

What happens if you’re an international student in Canada on a study permit and a family emergency occurs in your home country? Say you have to attend to a sick relative back home. Can you gain permission to leave Canada without losing your status and having to re-apply for a new study permit?

Yes, you can. And here’s how.


What Conditions Allow You to Leave Canada as a Study Permit Holder?

You can leave Canada and return home for up to 150 days when you’re on a study permit. You don’t need to apply for permission to the IRCC, but you do need to gather proof of the reason why you had to leave Canada and return home, interrupting your studies. In other words, you have to prove that your visit home was authorized by your school. Authorized leave means that one of the following is true:

  • The Designated Learning Institute (DLI) you are attending has authorized your leave due to:
    • Medical reasons or pregnancy,
    • Family emergency,
    • Death or serious illness of a family member, Or
    • Any other type of leave that your school authorizes,
  • Your school has closed permanently or has closed because of a strike,
  • You have changed schools, Or
  • You deferred or your school deferred your start date for your studies. If this is the case, you must start at your new school at the beginning of the next term which may be less than 150 days later. You will also need to obtain an updated letter of acceptance.
  • Please note that even if you have permission to work while you study, you may NOT work during an authorized leave.


When Might You Have to Provide Proof of Your Authorized Leave?

IRCC generally requests proof of your authorized school leave in 2 types of situations:

  • As part of a random check. This could occur, for example, at your port of entry when you return to Canada to resume your studies.
  • As part of an investigation of international students that immigration authorities believe are not meeting their study permit conditions.


What does the IRCC Accept as Proof of Authorized Leave?

The following documents may be requested by immigration authorities:

  • School documents that show or confirm:
    • Your enrollment status
    • Why you’re taking the school leave and the start date of your leave
    • The date of withdrawal from a school program (when you change schools for example)
    • The date you were suspended or dismissed from a school program
    • The date you stopped studying at a school
  • Official School Transcripts
  • References from people who know you
  • A letter or other document from a medical professional confirming your need for a medical leave
  • A letter or other document from your school that confirms it is closed or is no longer offering your program of study
  • Any other document that an immigration official finds necessary.

In other words, you should gather any of the above examples of documents that could apply to your specific situation in order to be able to provide proof to an immigration official should you be asked. That should include any official documents relating to your school or study permit like letters of acceptance, for example.


What Happens if You Don’t Meet Your Study Permit Conditions?

Remember that if you cannot provide sufficient proof to an immigration official for your authorized leave – or if you don’t meet any of the other conditions of your study permit; like working while studying in Canada without a permit – then you may be asked to leave Canada permanently. You may also have to wait an additional 6 months before re-applying for a new study permit. The fact that you did not comply with your previous permit conditions may affect any new application you make for a study (or work or visitor) visa.

Student with laptop


Summing Up

So, should some sort of emergency occur, you need to gather all the necessary documents listed above before you leave so that you have them with you when you return to resume your studies. It’s hard enough dealing with a family emergency. Don’t make it worse by putting your study permit at risk.

Posted in Tips and tagged Student Visa, Study Permit

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