Immigration impacts of withdrawing from courses

Overview

If you’re an international student thinking of dropping a course or withdrawing from an entire term, pay attention to the immigration impacts. Impacts are different for undergraduate students than for graduate students. Please see the bottom of this page for information specific to graduate students.

As an undergraduate student, the number of credits you take determines your full-time or part-time status for immigration purposes. Undergraduate students are considered full-time for immigration purposes if they take 9 or more credits each winter term. The summer session is a scheduled break where taking courses is optional.

If you withdraw with a W, you are no longer considered enrolled in the course for the term. You will be considered part-time for immigration purposes if you take fewer than 9 credits in a winter term.

If you might fail a course

Your grades do not directly impact your enrollment or immigration status. For example, if you fail your courses, but remain enrolled in at least 9 credits, you are still considered full-time for immigration purposes.

However, if you have many failed courses over several terms, an officer may question if you are making reasonable progress towards completing your program. They could request additional information to ensure your intention in Canada is to study.

Contact an Academic Advisor to understand the academic impact if you fail courses.

 

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Withdrawing from one or more courses while still having at least 9 credits

If you are enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits in a winter term, you are considered full-time for immigration purposes. Therefore, if you withdraw from one or more courses but take a minimum of 9 credits, there are no immigration impacts.

Studying full-time allows you to:

 

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Withdrawing from one or more courses while having fewer than 9 credits

If you will be enrolled in fewer than 9 credits in a winter term, you will be considered part-time for immigration purposes.

If you are enrolled part-time, you are considered to be maintaining your student status. Therefore you can remain in Canada, so long as your study permit is valid.

There are a few exceptions. You can be enrolled in fewer than 9 credits but still be considered full-time for immigration purposes if:

  • You are in your final academic term and require fewer than 9 credits to complete program requirements, or
  • You meet your approved reduced course load requirement with the Center for Accessibility, or
  • You are enrolled in co-op or in an outbound exchange

However, there are other impacts of part-time studies:

  • You are not eligible to work on or off campus for the remainder of the term and must stop working immediately. You will not be able to resume working until you are enrolled full time.
  • You are not eligible to work during scheduled breaks. You could only work in the summer scheduled break if:
    • You will enroll in at least 9 credits in the summer session, in which case you could work on campus and/or off-campus up to 20 hours a week
    • You will be enrolled in co-op in the summer and have a valid co-op work permit
  • Your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation will be impacted since you are required to study full time continuously in each winter term to be eligible for PGWP.

If you will study part-time, save a copy of your letter of enrollment from the Student Services Centre (SSC) under “Grades and records” and get a copy of your transcript as proof you were enrolled full-time before withdrawing and when you withdrew.

Gather additional documents supporting your circumstances, and keep a timeline of important dates so that you could provide this in your PGWP application in the future.

There may be other impacts of studying part-time, such as eligibility to stay in residence or eligibility for loans or awards. If you have dependents in Canada and their documents are expiring soon, contact International Programs and Services for support.

If you are studying online outside of Canada, studying part-time will impact your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) since you are required to study full time continuously in each winter term to be eligible for the PGWP.

 

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Withdrawing from all courses in a term

If you withdraw from all your courses in a given term, you are considered “not enrolled” for the entire term. In this case, you will need to take immediate action on your status in Canada since you will not be considered to be maintaining your student status.

You will need to:

  • Apply for visitor status for the duration of the time you will not be studying, or 
  • Leave Canada and return when you are enrolled

If you are not enrolled in any courses:

  • You are not eligible to work on or off campus for the remainder of the term and must stop working immediately. You will not be able to resume working until you are enrolled full-time.
  • You are not eligible to work during scheduled breaks. You could only work in the summer scheduled break if:
    • You will enroll in at least 9 credits in the Summer Session, in which case you could work on campus and/or off-campus up to 20 hours a week
    • You will be enrolled in co-op in the summer and have a valid co-op work permit
  • Your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation will be impacted since you are required to study full-time continuously in each winter term to be eligible for the PGWP.

If you plan on taking time away from your studies, learn about further potential impacts and what to prepare.

Before withdrawing, save a copy of your letter of enrollment from the Student Services Centre (SSC) under “Grades and records” and get a copy of your transcript as proof you were enrolled full-time before withdrawing and when you withdrew.

If you are studying online outside of Canada, you do not need to take action on your status, however withdrawing from all courses will impact your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit since you are required to study full-time continuously in each winter term to be eligible for the PGWP.

 

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Withdrawing from more than one term or having a failed year

You have more things to consider if you plan to not resume studies at UBC in the following winter term. If you have a failed year, you might not be allowed to enroll at UBC for one year, be required to study elsewhere before returning to UBC, or need to reapply to UBC. Contact an Academic Advisor from your faculty to learn about your options.

In addition to the above impacts and options of applying for visitor status or leaving Canada, you could:

 

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Graduate students

As a graduate student, your enrollment status is not impacted by the number of credits or courses you are enrolled in. So long as you have “registered” or “continuing” status, you are full-time for immigration purposes. The summer session is not considered a scheduled break for graduate students and you must be enrolled throughout the year to avoid impacts.

See the impacts of taking time away from your studies if you might withdraw from a term.

 

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Health and wellbeing support

If you’re studying in or outside of Canada, there are support options available to you.

See your options

 

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International student guide

Find answers to your questions on studying and working in Canada, health insurance, as well as step-by-step tutorials to prepare your immigration application and more.

View the guide

 

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If you have questions

International Programs and Services is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Connect with an advisor

 

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