Your enrolment status can have impacts such as whether you can:

Twice a year or more, the UM is required to report on your enrolment status to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) based on the definitions below.
See: Compliance Reporting

The information on this page may change.

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed by Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Readers should always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.

Last updated February 2024


Defining Full-time and Part-time status

For undergraduate students

The number of credits you take determines your full-time or part-time status for immigration purposes. The regular academic session for undergraduate students is the Fall and Winter terms (September to April). Undergraduate students are considered full-time for immigration purposes if you register for and complete 9 or more credits in each Term. To be reported as a full-time student, you must be enrolled in:

  • At least 9 credits in Fall term (September to December)
  • At least 9 credits in Winter Term (January to April)

The Summer Session (May to August) is a scheduled break for most* undergraduate students where taking courses is optional.

For most* undergraduate students the Regular Academic Session is from September – April each year (fall and winter terms).

Voluntary withdrawals (VWs) and authorized withdrawals (AWs)

If you voluntarily withdraw "VW" from a course, you are no longer considered enrolled in that course for the term. You will be considered part-time if you remain enrolled in at least 1 course, but complete fewer than 9 credits in a term. This means you can start a term with 9 credit hours (full-time), but if you VW a 3 credit hour course, you will drop down to only 6 credit hours for that term and are reported as part-time for that entire term.

Voluntary withdrawals (VWs) and authorized withdrawals (AWs) do not count towards full-time status.

Masters & Ph.D. students

Most* Masters & Ph.D. students who are participating in studies on a regular basis in an academic term and/or are registered in the academic year are considered to be full-time students. Master and Ph.D. student status is not determined by the number of credit hours taken per term.

If you are registered in a Masters or PhD. Program you are in an “Intensive Program” and do not have a scheduled breaks. The Regular Session is September – August each year (Fall, Winter and Summer terms)


  • A student registered in a Co-op work term is considered to have Full Time status. 
  • Beginning Summer 2023, Summer term is required at the College of Nursing. Effective Fall 2022, students admitted to the Bachelor of Nursing program will be required to register in a full academic term in Summer. For continuing students who were admitted prior to Fall 2022, Summer Term will remain optional.
  • The MBA is an exception to this rule for Masters programs for full-time status assessment – in the MBA, students must have 9+ credits per term to be assessed as full-time
  • Students enrolled in the Intensive Academic English Program through ELC have different criteria for full time status
  • Pre-masters enrollment status is determined the same as Undergraduate Students
  • Extended Education Intensive Program Packages

Please consult our current Full Time Status Document for IRCC Purposes for more information

If you might fail a course

Failing a course does not impact your enrollment status as you have still received a grade. For example, you could technically fail 3 courses in one term and still be considered a full time student for that term.  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. You could also become at risk of getting suspended. If you are struggling with a course and are considering dropping it, it is very important to connect with an Academic Advisor from your faculty and an International Student advisor early to discuss options and strategies. 

Withdrawing from one or more courses while still maintaining full time status:

For Undergraduate Students: If you are enrolled in a minimum of 9 credits in a regularly scheduled term, you are still reported as a full-time student. For example, if you originally registered for 4 courses and withdraw from one, you will still complete 3 courses (9 credits) and remain full time.

For most* Graduate Students: student status is not determined by the number of credit hours taken per term, therefore dropping a course will not impact your immigration status. (*see exceptions list above)

Immigration impacts of part-time status

Is it illegal to be part time?

From an IRCC perspective, at a minimum, students must have part-time status with their institution to be considered to be actively pursuing their studies. 

See: Assessing Study Permit Conditions. 

However, registering for a part time term or dropping down to part time status can have significant impacts on your ability to work in Canada, both during your studies and after graduation.

Working while you study

If you are a part time student you are typically* 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 also not eligible to work full-time during scheduled breaks immediately before and after your part-time term. You can only work full-time in the scheduled break if you are a full-time student both before and after the break. 

Exceptions to working while you study

If you’re a part-time student you can work on or off campus only if:

  • you meet all other working in Canada requirements, except the requirement to be a full-time student 
  • you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:
    •  you’re in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete your program and
    • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester

Working after Graduation

Your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation will be impacted since you are required to study full time continuously without unauthorized breaks in each regularly scheduled Term to be eligible for PGWP.

One of the requirements to apply for a PGWP is that you have maintained full-time* status as a student in Canada during each semester of your study program. 

If you have had a part time term and are still hoping to apply for a PGWP you are strongly encouraged to connect with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant or immigration lawyer to discuss your options and receive comprehensive professional support with the application. 

Exceptions to working after graduation

You may still be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work permit if: 

  • Only studying part-time during your final semester
  • Taking an approved leave from your studies
    • Please note: UM does not have an authorized leave process for undergraduate students, or any process to defer a term. If an undergraduate student at UM chooses not to register, then there is no official process that you need to go through and there would just be a gap on your record for that term.
  • Having to stop studying or changing to part-time studies between March 2020 and the fall semester in 2020 for reasons related to COVID-19 (that is, between January 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020)

Other impacts of Part-time status on campus

Your Bus Pass, Scholarship and Bursary, and On campus Housing eligibility may be impacted by becoming a Part Time student. Be sure to connect with the relevant departments to discuss your situation.