On January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) announced a number of updates and measures to the International Student Program. The complete details can be found on the IRCC website or on our News & Updates page.

Definition of a Regularly Scheduled Break - on and off campus work

Based on Regulation 186(v)(iii) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, eligible students can work full time during a regularly scheduled break.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, to be considered a regularly scheduled break, the break must be part of the designated learning institution's (DLI) academic calendar.  Each regularly scheduled break should not be longer than 150 days. The maximum cumulative duration of regularly scheduled breaks is 180 days per calendar year (January - December). Eligible students must hold full-time enrollment during the academic session before and after the regularly scheduled break. For more information about how this impacts you as an SFU student, see below.

The reading week, breaks between terms* and the summer term (for undergraduate students only) may be considered regularly scheduled breaks for immigration purposes at SFU. 

Definitions, permitted or restricted hours, and eligibility requirements differ between working on and off campus. Some students may be eligible to work only on campus, off campus, or both. Review our detailed handout for more information.

Undergraduate Students

You may work off campus up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during the Fall and Spring terms (provided you meet SFU’s definition of full-time and IRCC’s work eligibility requirements).

In order to work on and/or off campus on a full-time basis during a regularly scheduled break (the Summer term, Reading Week, or breaks between terms*), you must meet two requirements:

  1. You must meet SFU’s definition of full time (see Full Time Status, below) in the academic sessions immediately before and after the regularly scheduled break 
    • Because you must be enrolled full time in a degree, diploma or certificate program in the terms immediately before and immediately after a scheduled break, you cannot consider your first or last term in an eligible program as a scheduled break (even if Summer is your first or last term).
  2. IRCC’s work eligibility requirements for working on or off campus

If you are eligible to work full time during a scheduled break in the Summer term, you may do so regardless of your enrollment status for Summer. In other words, you may enroll part time, full-time, or not at all, in Summer, and can work full time if you meet the requirements listed above. For more information, visit the IRCC website.

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements listed above for a scheduled break in Summer, you must enroll full time in Summer in order to legally work during that term, and your off-campus work will be limited to a maximum 20 hours per week. See Working on campus and Working off campus for details.

Graduate Students

Graduate students are normally considered to have an ongoing, full-time relationship with the University and therefore may work off campus to a maximum of 20 hours per week throughout the year (provided they meet SFU’s definition of full-time and IRCC’s work eligibility requirements).

An academic break (or scheduled break) can be taken when no courses are offered for a graduate student’s program within a particular term, or there is a scheduled break within a program (e.g. summer term). The maximum number of terms that are permitted for an academic break is one term per year with no consecutive academic breaks. Students in a thesis program are not eligible for an academic break. For more information about the Graduate Leave of Absence Policy, please see the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows website.

Eligible graduate students may work full time during an academic break, reading week, and breaks between terms*.  

* For the purpose of the policy above, a break between terms begins on the day after the exam period has ended for a given term, and ends on the day before classes begin for the subsequent term. Please refer to the SFU Calendar for a full list of academic dates.

Full Time Status

SFU students are considered full time for immigration purposes in a given term if they are:

Undergraduate Students (including post-baccalaureate programs)

  • enrolled in a minimum of 9 units in the Spring, Summer and Fall term

Graduate Students in one of the following categories

  • Graduate students enrolled in per term fee programs
  • Graduate students enrolled in a thesis, project, capstone course or field exams
  • Graduate students enrolled in 6 or more units per term in per unit fee programs  

OR any one of the following:

  • Undergraduate and Graduate students enrolled in a full time Formal Exchange Program (“FEP”) or Field School (outbound exchange and field school), or
  • Undergraduate and Graduate students enrolled in a full-time co-operative education placement (“Co-op”), approved internship or practicum as per program requirements, or 
  • Undergraduate students enrolled in a total minimum of 9 units as part of the Dual Degree partnerships between SFU and Langara, Douglas and Kwantlen or
  • Graduate students enrolled full time under the Western Deans Agreement in any given term, or 
  • Visiting International Graduate Research Students ( see more information) enrolled in “Grad 800”, or
  • Visiting International Undergraduate Research Students (see more information) enrolled in "UG 400", or
  • Students for whom the Centre for Accessible Learning has approved full-time equivalency, despite their carrying a reduced load