It can be challenging to understand a new country’s immigration rules. NorQuest International is here to help. We offer free advising, support materials, and interpretation of policies/procedures. If you have any questions, connect with an international student advisor.

Immigration compliance  

As an international student, you are responsible for complying with immigration regulations and maintaining your immigration status while in Canada. Canadian Immigration policy can also change. Refer to the official IRCC website to make sure you have up-to-date information.

Here’s a checklist we recommend you follow:

  • make reasonable progress towards completing your program of study being enrolled in every mandatory term of your program. International students cannot have breaks in studies that are longer than 150 days without changing their status. In most cases these breaks should be authorized by NorQuest.  

  • maintain full-time enrolment status in every mandatory term if you intend to work while studying and want to remain eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Full-time academic load requirements are indicated on each program’s webpage in the "Costs and Courses” section. Always follow the recommended enrolment pathway as published on your program’s page*.  

  • Take more than 50% in-person course sections every term (“A: in-person”, “E - Evening”, “S - Saturday”, or “W – Workplace” sections).

  • If you are taking a work-integrated learning course (practicum/co-op/community service learning/clinical), ensure to apply for your Co-op Work Permit and submit it for verification before your practicum begins.  

  • Always comply with restrictions written on your study permit and co-op work permit.  

  • Know the expiry dates of your immigration documents and apply for an extension at least five months before the expiry.  

  • You may work on-campus or off-campus only when authorized by your study permit conditions and if you meet eligibility requirements. You cannot start working in Canada before your study program has started.

  • Notify IRCC if you transfer schools using the Government of Canada’s instructions on changing schools/programs. If your program includes a mandatory work component, you will also need to apply for a new co-op work permit because these documents are not transferable across schools.

  • If, for some reason, you cannot study during a mandatory academic term, your leave from studies must be authorized by the program chair following the procedure of an Authorized Leave.

  • Take advice only from certified individuals (RCIC – Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant or RISIA – Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor). Contact NorQuest International for any questions on immigration matters. 

* Some of these conditions do not pertain to students in preparatory programs.

Study permits

What is it?

A study permit is a document you need to legally study in Canada. It outlines the conditions of your stay in Canada as a student and confirms your legal status in Canada. If you are studying in Canada for six months or more, you need a study permit. Some foreign nationals may be exempt from the need to obtain a study permit. Please review the list of exemptions on this IRCC page.

Note: A study permit is different than a visa. A visa is a separate document that allows you to travel to Canada.

Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL)

Effective January 22, 2024, IRCC requires international students submitting study permit applications outside Canada to include a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL), issued by the Government of the province or territory of the school you applied to. This letter serves as proof that you have been accounted for under the national cap on the limit of international students accepted annually.

You may be exempt from the PAL requirement if:

  • you are eligible to apply for a study permit from within Canada, or

  • you already hold a study permit or a work permit and reapplying for another program within Canada, or

  • you are a family member of a study permit or work permit holder.

NorQuest College will request a PAL from the Alberta Government on behalf of its students based on the date order the tuition deposit had been paid.

A study permit application that does not include a valid PAL, or meets an exception as outlined by IRCC, will not be accepted for consideration.

More details about PALs can be found on the IRCC website.

Steps to obtain a Study Permit

  1. Apply for a study permit as soon as you receive your official offer of admission (LOA) and the provincial attestation letter (PAL) from the Office of the Registrar.

  2. After your study permit application is approved, you will be asked to send your passport for visa stamping in your home country if you are from the visa-required country. Otherwise, you will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

  3. When you travel to Canada, you will be issued a study permit at your first Port of Entry (POE) to Canada. Read through the study permit carefully and ask the Canada Border Services Officer to correct mistakes on your study permit if you find any.  

  4. Remember the expiry date of your study permit. Set a reminder in your phone, scan it, and keep it safe in your documents.

Scheduled breaks

What is it?

A scheduled break is a break in your studies that’s part of your school’s academic calendar. It might include reading weeks, breaks between terms, and Spring/Summer terms (depending on the program). Eligible students may be able to work full-time during scheduled breaks.

Check your program’s scheduled breaks chart based on your starting term:

How long is it?

Each scheduled break should not be longer than 150 days. In total, the maximum amount of scheduled break days you can have per calendar year is 180 days.

Can I work during a scheduled break?

To be authorized to work during the scheduled break, you must hold full-time enrollment during the mandatory terms before and after the scheduled breaks.
If the term after the scheduled break is your final academic term, you are allowed to work part-time (only in that term).

If your final academic term overlaps with the scheduled break, it is no longer considered a scheduled break. Therefore, you will not be authorized to work full-time during that term.

Working in Canada 

Working while studying

Work experience can help you prepare for your career, get familiar with Canada’s workplace, earn extra money, and form a closer connection to the local community. It’s important to verify your authorization to work before you accept an on-campus or off-campus job while studying.

Co-op work permits

You must get a co-op work permit to take work experience courses in your program (i.e. a practicum, clinical, field experience, or co-op experience).

Work experience courses that involve child care or health sectors also require a valid medical exam conducted by an IRCC-authorized panel physician. Review the list of programs that require a co-op work permit and a medical exam.

Post-graduation work permits

A post-graduation work permit is an open work permit that allows qualifying international graduates to stay in Canada and work for up to three years after graduation. Getting a post-graduation work permit will change your legal status from student to worker and will provide you with opportunity to gain relevant Canadian work experience that may lead to Permanent Residency.

Information on this page was prepared by the NorQuest International staff holding the designation of Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIA) and Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) for the convenience of international students of NorQuest College to navigate immigration law. According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, non-designated individuals are not authorized to provide immigration-related advice of any kind.

This information does not represent a legal document. Please note that immigration policy may change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the IRCC website.