Work While Studying
In 2014, the government of Canada introduced changes to the terms of Canadian study permits. Under these changes, the majority of study permits automatically grant international students the authorization to work while studying in Canada.
Most Canadian study permits allow a full-time international student to work up to 20-hours per week during regular school sessions and undertake full-time employment during scheduled breaks.
As an international student in Canada, you may be able to get a job without a work permit during your studies.
Canada’s immigration policy extends the opportunity to gain valuable work experience to international students who have chosen Canada as their study destination.
In certain cases, a study permit may not authorize an international student to work while studying in Canada:
The study permit is for a program of study which is less than six months in duration.
The study permit specifies that the holder of the permit has employment restrictions.
An international student may be authorized to continue working 20-hours per week even if they are not enrolled in full-time classes:
The student is in the last semester of a study program and they do not require a full-time course load in order to meet the requirements for completing the program.
The student is at the graduate level of study and has completed all required coursework for their degree.
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Anyone working in Canada must have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). This means that any international student wishing to work in Canada must first apply for a SIN.
However, in order to apply for a SIN, there must be certain information listed on the study permit of an international student.
The study permit must state one, or both, of the conditions listed below. If those conditions are not included on a study permit, the student simply has to request that they be added. Study permit conditions required to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN):
May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies
May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w)
Off-campus vs. On-campus Work Permits
Prior to changes made in 2014, student work permits were divided into two categories:
- Off-campus work permits allowed students to work anywhere outside of their institution.
- On-campus work permits allowed students to work only at buildings on the campus of their school.
Following the new regulations, the vast majority of study permits authorize international students to work both on- and off-campus.
While it is uncommon, it is possible that an international student may face restrictions regarding working on- or off- campus.
The study permit will indicate the student’s employment authorization, specifying where the student can and/or cannot accept employment.
If an international student believes that they should have the authorization to work during their study program, but this authorization is not explicitly listed on their study permit, then they should submit a request to have the permit updated before undertaking any employment.
In order to be eligible to work off-campus during his or her studies, an international student must:
- hold a valid study permit;
- be studying full-time at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- have started studying and remain in satisfactory academic standing as determined by their institution;
- be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least six months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate; and
- have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
If an international student’s situation changes and he or she no longer meets any of the above eligibility requirements, he or she must stop working off/on-campus.
Work in Canada as a co-op student or intern
International students pursuing a study program at a DLI in Canada that requires a mandatory work placement or internship must apply for a co-op or intern work permit in addition to a valid study permit.
Full-time students can work in their institutions without the need for an employment authorization. International students can work up to 20 hours per week during their studies and 40 hours per week during vacation.
They can earn approximately C$ 8 – C$ 15 per hour.
To help battle the COVID-19 outbreak, starting immediately, the government will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.
Working more than 20 hours per week is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status for doing this, and may not be approved for a study or work permit in the future. You may also have to leave the country.
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