Work Permit for Destitute Students in Canada

Work Permit for Destitute Students in CanadaFrancesco, an Italian citizen, entered Canada as an international student in 2019. While completing his studies, novel coronavirus hit his country hard. Consequently, Francesco’s parents were not able to cover his expenses in Canada. In fact, their business went bankrupt. Unfortunately, Francesco’s younger brother died from coronavirus. As a result, Francesco is desperate to work full-time in Canada to be able to manage his daily expenses. He is, indeed, a destitute student who needs support from the Canadian government. 

Canadian colleges and universities are popular among international students. Consequently, thousands of students choose Canada to pursue their studies. If you are completing your post-secondary education in Canada, you could be eligible to work part-time to cover some of your expenses. However, what if everything goes wrong?

Who is a destitute student?

Destitute refers to someone who cannot pay for the necessities of her or his life. Furthermore, Canadian immigration authorities consider a student to be destitute for the following reasons:

  • The international student cannot pay the tuition fee and cover the necessary expenses of their life in Canada; and
  • the destituteness is due to a significant unforeseen event.

Some examples of significant unforeseen events could be:

  • Crash of the banking system
  • War
  • A pandemic disease that brings the economy to its knees (e.g. COVID-19)
  • Death or severe illness of family members who supported the student financially
  • Internal armed conflicts or riots

Of course, you need to prove that these events have affected you directly and caused destituteness.

What a destitute student can do?

If you are a destitute student, you may apply for an open work permit. If you receive the work permit, you may work full-time for any Canadian employer. Of course,  sometimes officers may impose conditions on your work permit. Nonetheless, the officers issue the work permit under the authority of subsection 208(a) of the Immigration Regulations and LMIA exemption code H81. You may consider reading the following articles for more information:

Destitute student work permit application

The work permit application looks like a regular work permit application. However, the good news is that under subsection 299(1)(d) of the Regulations, you are exempt from a processing fee. Also, if you need to give biometrics, paragraph 315.1(2)(h) of the Regulations exempts you from paying the biometrics fee. Regardless, you need to fill out the forms and submit convincing documents to justify the request.

A typical work permit of such nature will expire before the expiry of your study permit. In other words, the purpose of this work permit is to assist you in getting back on your feet and continuing your studies.

Word of advice for destitute students

If you are an eligible destitute student, consider negotiating with your school first. They may agree to wave your tuition fee or offer you a discount. Of course, if their help is not good enough, then you may consider applying for the work permit.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the form 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 advice from a licenced practitioner.

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


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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