Can international students work in Canada?

Studying in a foreign country is costly. However, if you manage to work there, you could offset all or part of your expenses. Let’s face it! You have to deal with local laws as a foreign national, though. In this article, I’ll explain if, as an international student, you could work in Canada. Make sure to read the article in its entirety.

Minor students

Minor international students may not work in Canada. However, in theory, they could apply for a work permit. Nonetheless, I highly doubt if this approach would be practical for them. Assuming they receive a work permit and the provincial laws allow, they may work in Canada. Check out the following link for more information:

The rest of this article focuses on adult students only.

Work options for international students who do not hold a study permit

Sometimes you may study in Canada without a permit. I have another article that explains how this is even possible. If you fall under any of these groups, you may only work in Canada if your work is exempt from the requirements of a work permit. Therefore, make sure to check out the following articles:

Of course, if you are not visa-exempt, your visa counterfoil shows an SX-1 code to verify that you may study in Canada without a permit.

Working options for ESL students

Sometimes you are studying English or French as a second language in Canada. If you take these courses without a study permit, you may only take those jobs that do not require a work permit. However, if you hold a valid study permit, you may work on the college or university campus. Please read the following article for more details:

Work options for other international students

Let’s assume you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Not a minor
  • Holding a valid study permit
  • Studying full-time at a post-secondary program (specific secondary programs in Quebec are exempt)
  • The studies are leading you to a certificate, diploma, or degree
  • Your school is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

Under these circumstances, you may work off-campus. However, consider the following rules:

  • A maximum of 20 hours of work per week during the semester
  • Full-time jobs during regular breaks, only

Exceptional situations when an international student may work full-time in Canada

Sometimes you receive a work permit along with your study permit. Here are three examples:

  • Programs that require co-op: You must double-check the terms and conditions of these work permits with your school.
  • Becoming a destitute student: This option is only available to those who suddenly lose their financial resources due to unexpected circumstances. However, only dire situations qualify.
  • Obtaining an employer-based work permit: You must go through the normal work permit application process.

Moreover, refugee claimants and protected persons may receive open work permits while studying in Canada.

Canada has introduced a temporary measure that allows many international students to work full-time despite studying. However, this policy will likely end on December 31, 2023.

Can international students work in Canada after finishing their studies?

When you finish your studies, you must stop working altogether. However, you may work full-time if one of the following situations occurs:

Let us help!

As an international student in Canada, you could book an appointment with me to explore your work and immigration options. Moreover, fill out the following form if you wish to remain in Canada. For other immigration options, please fill out our assessment form.

    Do you hold a valid study permit?

    Do you hold a valid work permit?

    How old are you? (required)

    Have you taken an English or French test?

    How knowledgeable are you in English or French languages (pick the language that you are more fluent)

    What is the highest level of studies you have completed outside Canada?

    Which level of studies have you completed inside Canada?

    Do you have accompanying family members (spouse, common-law partner, or dependant children)?

    Are you facing inadmissibility problems or a removal order?

    What do you expect to achieve?

    Additional information (optional but helpful)

    Please share more information to help us better assess you:

    Are you currently inside Canada?

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    Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.

    Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

    Fill our Free Canada Immigration Assessment Form in your language!

    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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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.