Can I work as an ESL student in Canada?

Canada is an excellent country for learning the English language. Thousands of international students choose Canada for this reason. Of course, they may attend a class and leave Canada. However, some of them use ESL training to continue their studies in Canada. Regardless, you could offset some of your expenses if you could work while studying. So, can you work as an ESL student in Canada?

Taking standalone ESL courses

If you intend to attend an ESL course for less than six months, you do not need a study permit. Therefore, all you need to do is enroll in the program, travel to Canada and attend the course. To travel to Canada, you need to have proper authorization.

Of course, you must mention your intention when you are applying for an eTA or a TRV. Since an eTA is just a security clearance, you won’t receive a visa sticker. However, if you receive a TRV counterfoil, the category code will be SX-1. The identification means you can study in Canada without a study permit. Of course, only if the duration of your studies is less than six months.

Generally, the international ESL students who take standalone ESL courses may not work in Canada. However, you may work if you receive a work permit or if your work is exempt from a work permit.

Can international ESL students work if they hold a study permit?

If you are holding a study permit, you may work if you meet the following requirements. Of course, I have taken these from subsection 186(f) of IRPR:

A foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit, if they are a full-time student, on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student, for the period for which they hold a study permit to study at that university or college.

This provision applies to ESL students who have a study permit. Consequently, you may work on the campus of the university or college only. However, if you later enter a regular program, you may work off-campus as well.  Unfortunately, high school international students may not work in Canada.

Let us help!

If you intend to study in Canada, fill out the following forms. We offer services to both international ESL students and those who want to explore other subjects. Of course, you may book a consultation session with me for official advice.

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    The nationality of the student

    How old is the student (required)

    Has the student taken an English or French test?

    How knowledgeable the student is in English or French languages (one language is enough)

    Has the student evaluated their educational credentials in Canada?

    How much money the student has to support their living expenses and tuition in Canada for the first year of studies in Canada?

    At which level do you wish to study?

    Does the student have accompanying family members?

    Additional information (optional but helpful)

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.