Foreign Students Return to School – In Person or Online?

It’s time to start thinking about back to school for many foreign students. Throughout the pandemic special measures were put in place to permit foreign students to study online remotely while maintaining their eligibility for a post graduate work permit (PGWP).

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is extending a transition period to international students applying for study permits who are affected by delays and backlogs. The IRCC has recognized that some students’ applications may not be processed in time to begin their in-person studies for the Fall 2022 semester.

International students studying online overseas or those that submit a study permit application by August 31, 2022, will be permitted to complete their entire program online without impacting their eligibility for a PGWP.

Foreign students that opt for online studies or are forced to study online because their study permit is not approved in time for the school year, need to beware that there could still be some consequences. Specifically, there are temporary distance learning measures affecting students starting programs from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. These students will be subject to the following:

  • Beginning Sept 1, 2023, all remote study completed abroad will subtract from the length of a PGWP regardless of when studies were begun, and
  • A maximum of 50% of credits earned may be completed outside of Canada to stay eligible for a PGWP.

Therefore, students affected by delays will not be penalized for completing their course remotely while they wait for their applications to be approved.

As the world transitions to life after Covid-19, the above pre-pandemic study requirements will be reinstated. Online remote study was offered in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, lenience was extended to students on the path to permanent residence. During this time, students’ eligibility for a PGWP would not be affected by completing 100% of their program online and outside of Canada. This policy appears to strike a balance of fairness, but some may argue that foreign students paying significant tuition should not be penalized at all for IRCC’s backlog.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss post-graduation work permits, or any other immigration needs we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email:;;;;;;