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Co-op Work Permits

International Students: Canada Co-op Work Permits

International students pursuing study programs in Canada that require a co-op internship program or work placement may apply for a co-op work permit. 

International students pursuing a study program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada that requires a mandatory work placement or internship must apply for a co-op work permit in addition to a Canadian Study Permit.

The co-op work permit is a separate work permit, unrelated to the authorization to work part-time that is generally included in Canadian study permits.

It is important to note that an individual applying for a co-op work permit must hold a valid study permit.


You may apply for a co-op work permit if you:

  • Have a valid study permit
  • Are enrolled in a study program that requires a mandatory work placement in order to obtain credits for the program; and
  • Have a Letter of Acceptance or Work Practicum Letter that confirms a Co-Op (work practicum) is mandatory (included) to complete your program and Co-Op is 50% or less of the total program of study. Check with your program coordinator if you are eligible.
Note: When you apply for study permit or extend study permit, you may apply for co-op work permit at the same time.

How do Co-op programs in Canada work in 2022?

Co-op programs in Canada work similarly to how they work in other countries. But as you would expect, there are some little differences.

So if learning about how co-op programs in Canada work in 2022, is what brought you here, then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we’d be discussing all the basic things you’d need to know. And after consuming this content, you should be able to decide what to do next. So let’s get into it.


How do Co-op programs in Canada work in 2022?


Gain admission into a Canadian School offering your desired Co-op Program

For any student who desires to participate in one of the co-op programs in Canada, the first thing expected of you is to find an educational institute that offers your desired program. We have a good number of them. 

Work Experience Essential to the Program of Study

Work experience is defined as essential to the program of study if it is undertaken for program credits, and is required in order for the international student to graduate.

  • International students undertaking employment, paid or unpaid, in order to graduate the program of study require a co-op work permit.
  • Authorization is required from the educational institution in order to obtain a co-op work permit and begin the mandatory work experience.
  • Such work experience cannot account for more than half of the study program.
  • Work experience essential to the program of study is considered to include, but is not limited to:
    • field work;
    • clinical work;
    • practicums;
    • volunteer work; or
    • internships, paid or unpaid.

In Detail

  • The co-op work permit allows the holder to work up to full-time during the semester, depending on the conditions of the work placement authorized by the DLI.
  • International students may simultaneously use a co-op work permit, and the standard work authorization granted to the holder of a Canadian study permit. This means that an international student may have a job unrelated to his or her study program, at the same time as working in the mandatory work placement.
  • The co-op work permit is a closed work permit, meaning it can only be utilized for one job and one employer. The employer is designated on the permit document as the educational institution authorizing the co-op placement.
  • The co-op work permit will also be issued for a specific time period as authorized by the co-ordinator of the student’s co-op work placement. Usually this will coincide with the validity of the study permit.
  • There are no application fees for the co-op work permit.

A co-op work permit allows students to work full-time during regular academic terms. You must have a co-op work permit if your work (e.g. co-op placement or internship) is integral to your program of study.

It will be issued for the same length of time as your study permit and allows you to work full-time.

Your permit can only be used for work required for your program. However, you may simultaneously hold a co-op work permit and work off-campus if you meet the criteria for each.

 The co-op work permit is only for work that is a required part of your academic program such as official UBC co-op work terms, required internships and practicum placements. Integral means that you cannot graduate unless you complete the work.

The co-op work permit cannot be used for work that is not part of your official academic program of study. For example, it cannot be used for internships required by external funding organizations. 

If you are not sure if your work is an essential part of your academic program, please consult with both your Academic Advisor and an International Student Advisor to make sure you are eligible to apply.

You should apply soon after you receive a letter from Carleton Co-operative Education to IRCC that says you are a student in a program with a required work component.

The application can be done in an hour or less, and there is no fee. Processing times usually vary from 1-3 months.

If you got work experience while on a post-graduation work permit or a similar work permit, it is considered valid. If you were in a co-op program (or another academic program with a similar work placement or internship), your co-op work experience does not count towards this 1 year.

Yes, university and college students who are placed at companies or other organizations for their work terms are paid for their work.

The average co op salary in Canada is $41,360 per year or $21.21 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $35,107 per year, while most experienced workers make up to $59,727 per year.


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