For immigration purposes, academic success is not about being a straight-A student but rather maintaining satisfactory progress towards the completion of the program in a timely manner.
Many international students, when faced with disappointing academic results, are concerned about the status of their study permit and the chances of its renewal. Understandably, there are various factors that can affect a student’s academic success. Learning in times of the COVID pandemic can be difficult. However, as an international student, you may encounter additional challenges such as adapting to cultural differences, communication barriers, isolation from family, and mental health struggles, to name a few. All these factors may likely influence your academic performance.
For immigration purposes, academic success is not about being a straight-A student but rather maintaining satisfactory progress towards the completion of the program in a timely manner. But what if you do not have satisfactory academic standing or you are even under academic probation or suspension? What if you have failed a course or you simply need to take a leave from studies? Does your poor academic performance affect your study permit or renewal application?
Keep in mind that an international student who holds a study permit is under the obligation to “actively pursue their course or program of study” at the designated learning institution (section 220.1(1)(b) of Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“Regulations”)). This means that international students should be making reasonable progress towards the completion of their studies within the timeframe of that specific program. This obligation is ongoing from the beginning of studies to the point of completion of your program as per the study permit. According to the policy guidance used by an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (the “IRCC”) staff on assessing study permit conditions, this means that an international student must, at a minimum, be enrolled as a part-time student at their institution.
You also need to be aware of crucial deadlines affecting study permits. If an international student has to take an authorized leave from studies or a designated learning institution has placed a student under academic suspension, then the international student should resume studies within 150 days from the day the leave commenced or ceased studies. Failure to comply with this requirement either means that the student has to change the status to visitor or worker, or leave Canada.
When applying to renew your study permit at a post-secondary designated learning institution in Canada, you need to submit, among other things, university transcripts from your last two periods of study demonstrating your academic standing at the post-secondary degree program, along with the Letter of Enrolment/Registration from your university. The purpose of submitting the university transcripts is to satisfy the IRCC officer that you are a so-called “bona fide” student (or, in other words, a genuine student) and intend to complete your program as indicated in the Letter of Enrolment/Registration.
Neither the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act nor its Regulations set limits on how many times you can apply to renew your study permit. However, if you keep applying to renew your study permit for the purposes of trying to complete the program and maintain status as a student, it may eventually raise questions whether you are in fact a “bona fide” student and whether you intend to leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay.
How to address your poor academic performance in a renewal application for a study permit?
Consider submitting a detailed Letter of Explanation in your renewal application explaining the circumstances that affected your poor academic performance or inability to complete the program within the timeframe. If your marks improved as time went by, consider emphasizing this in your Letter of Explanation as well as adding information on what steps you have already taken or will take to improve your academic success. Additionally, consider submitting reference letters from your instructors or other people who may be aware of your personal circumstances surrounding academic performance. This is your chance to show the IRCC officer that your intention is to complete your studies and leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay. You should carefully prepare and include any supporting documents that help show this. If you are looking for professional advice, we’re here to help at Quadro Law.
No information in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Should you have any questions about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.