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Potential Impact of Part Time Studies

Are you thinking of reducing your course load to less than 12 credits this semester? For example, dropping a course before add/drop and/or withdrawing from a course.

It is very important to be aware of the potential immigration impacts of reducing your course load. See below for more information.

Please note that the information below does not apply to one-term exchange students who are here as visitors (i.e., who do not hold a CAQ and Study Permit).

Immigration Facts

  1. International students are required to make their studies their principal activity for the duration of their program at McGill – that means maintaining a full-time course load in every semester, except your final term before graduating or during a regularly scheduled break in your program, such as the summer term for undergraduate and most non-thesis graduate students.
  2. At McGill, full-time means a minimum of 12 credits per semester for undergrad and non-thesis students – if you are not taking at least 12 credits per semester, you are not meeting the conditions of your CAQ.*
  3. If you started the semester with 12 or more credits but end up reducing your course load to less than 12 credits due to course drop/withdrawal – immigration authorities will no longer consider you a full-time student regardless of what it says on your transcript.*
  4. If you do not meet the condition to remain full-time every semester, extending your CAQ may be difficult – your application for a new CAQ could be refused.
  5. Extending your CAQ may be challenging if you have struggled academically – if you are struggling in a course, speak to an Academic Advisor right away to come up with a plan to help you succeed.
  6. International students who are not full-time (i.e. undergrad and non-thesis students taking less than 12 credits) are not permitted to work on-campus or off-campus – no exceptions.
  7. If you started the semester full-time but drop or withdraw from one or more courses to less than 12 credits – you must stop working as soon as your course(s) has been dropped or your withdrawal has been approved.*
  8. The only time you can work full-time off-campus is during a regularly scheduled break in your program – to do so, you must be enrolled full-time in the semesters immediately before and after the break.*
  9. A Co-op Work Permit can only be used for the internship or mandatory work component of your academic program – it cannot be used for any other type of work or internship and the work cannot exceed 50% of your program’s total length.
  10. Thinking of applying for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation? In order to be eligible, you must maintain a full-time course load every semester with the exception of your last semester. *Exceptions can also be made for a Leave of Absence.
  11. *Special Message for Graduate Students: Graduate thesis students (i.e., Master's thesis students and PhD students) are continuously enrolled in full-time studies regardless of the number of credits they are taking. This includes the summer semester, thesis additional, thesis continuing and thesis evaluation semesters. Because thesis students are continuously enrolled in full-time studies, they do not have a scheduled break. Full-time thesis students are only authorized to work 20 hours/week off-campus and an unrestricted number of hours on-campus for the duration of their studies.

Still have Questions or Concerns?

For more information on the potential immigration impacts of part-time studies, please review our Immigration FAQs.

Do you have extenuating circumstances requiring you to be less than full-time? E.g. personal or family health, etc.

Contact International Student Services – we’ll be happy to help!



In addition to the information above, please also review ISS' FAQs page.

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