canada international studentsCanada Study Visa

How to Address a Study Gap on Your Canadian Study Permit Application

Published on: November 5th, 2021

Sometimes it is necessary to take a break from pursuing academia, whether it be for family reasons, health reasons, or to gain work experience. Many prospective students are concerned that having taken long study gaps may hinder their chances of being accepted to a Canadian school or obtaining a permit to study in Canada. The good news is that you can still come to Canada as an international student despite having a large gap in your studies.

Though you can still be considered ‘actively pursuing your studies’ after taking a long break, you may encounter certain challenges when applying to schools or obtaining a study permit. If you have a study gap, it will be important for you to create a timeline in chronological order that explains your decisions leading up to the gap in your studies. This entails keeping track of events and key dates that will help schools and visa officers understand your circumstances. It will be equally important for you to gather any documents that can support your study gap, such as hospital documents, flight tickets, or documents describing a family emergency.

Reasons for study gaps

There are many reasons why an individual may have a gap in their studies. The following reasons could explain why a student had to take time away from their program, as well as how they can be addressed:

Medical problems

A serious accident or illness could require you to take a break from your studies. In this case, you should prove your medical issues by providing a letter from your physician.

Family emergencies

When a family emergency comes up, you may need to drop everything to prioritize the needs of your family member and inevitably take time away from your other activities. In this situation, you should be honest and provide information and documentation that explains the situation.


Work provides an individual with valuable experience that can contribute to their achievements in a particular academic program. Proof of your work experience should be included in your study permit application to help the visa officer understand your professional and academic trajectory.

Choosing your school

Selecting the school that you wish to attend in Canada is an important part of any process when deciding to resume studies, especially after taking a long academic break. Some schools, such as St. Lawrence College, do not consider mature international students for admission. When applying to study in Canada after a long break, it is important to do research on whether the school accepts retuning mature international students.

Choosing your field

It is essential to choose your field of study carefully when applying for schools in Canada. The program you choose should be one that aligns with your work experience or employment goals. When applying as a mature student, schools will look to see that your chosen studies align with your previous experience. Similarly, when applying for a study permit, the visa officer will want to see that the program of study makes sense within the trajectory of your career.

Dual intent

Dual intent is the intention to transition to permanent resident status while applying for temporary status in Canada. While dual intent is permitted, the officer may refuse an application if they feel that there is a chance you will not leave Canada by the end of your authorized stay. Therefore, your application should also address ties to your home country and reasons your Canadian studies will help develop your career in your home country.


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