Am I required to study full-time every term? Study permit, work eligibility and post-graduation work permit considerations

March 02, 2022

Your enrollment at SFU affects your ability to work, study, and stay in Canada after completing your studies. Your study permit has certain conditions attached to it which you must comply with during your stay in Canada.  Additionally you are required to meet a set of eligiblity criteria in order to work while you study. If you are planning to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) after you finish your studies you must additionally meet the eligibility criteria under the PGWP Program.  

Let's review the requirements for study permit holders, work eligibility for international students and PGWP eligiblity below in more detail.


As an international student holding a study permit, you are required to actively pursue studies.  According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), this means that you must remain enrolled and make reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program.

To be considered actively pursuing studies as required by IRCC, you may be enrolled in a full-time or occasionally a part-time course load.  You are not required to study full-time in each term in order to maintain your study permit and comply with your study permit conditions. 

With that being said, you must be enrolled full time to legally work on or off campus and you are required to maintain full-time student status during each academic term of your studies (with some exceptions) in order to remain eligible for a post-graduation work permit.  Please review the sections below for more information.

Each institution determines the minimal course load required for a student to be considered full time.  To review SFU's definition of full-time study for immigration purposes, please visit our website


In order to work on campus and/or off campus while you study at SFU you must meet two requirements:


The definitions, permitted hours, and eligibility requirements differ for working on or off campus. You may be eligible to work only on campus, off campus, or both.  For more information, please review our Working On and Off Campus instruction guide.


IRCC policy requires you to have studied full-time in all regular academic terms throughout your studies in order to maintain eligiblity for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). 

  • SFU undergraduate students: Regular academic terms are the Spring and Fall terms.  
    • From an immigration perspective, SFU undergraduate students may take the Summer term off, or study part-time during the Summer term, with no impact on post-graduation work permit eligibility. 
  • SFU graduate students: Regular academic terms are the Spring, Summer and Fall terms.

To review the full eligibility criteria under the PGWP Program, please visit the IRCC website.  Per the IRCC website, possible exceptions to the full-time study requirement may be applied during a period of authorized leave from study and/or in a student's final term of study

Given the above, if you study part-time and/or take a term off from your studies during a regular academic term, your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit may be impacted.  For more information please visit our website and review the sections entitled "Studying Part Time" and "Taking a Term off". 

We understand that there may be circumstances which prevent you from being able to study full-time during each academic term of your studies.  If you are considering taking a term off, or dropping down to part-time study, please connect with us and we will be happy to advise you further as well as provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.


If you have any questions relating to the enrollment requirements for international students, as they pertain to your study permit, work eligibility and/or your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit, please reach out to an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for assistance.