Can International Students Work in Canada?
Liam is a 19-year-old international student from Sweden. While in Canada, he is studying an undergrad program at Brandon University in Manitoba. Liam’s parents called him a couple of days ago and told him they are financially in distress. Consequently, they can’t fully support him anymore. Liam has to work in Canada to cover part of his expenses. However, he wonders if Canadian laws allow him to work while studying as an international student.
Canada is a famous country for international students. According to Statistics Canada, more than 350,000 international students study at Canadian colleges and universities. Of course, you have to add thousands of students who come to Canada for English or French language training, elementary or secondary schools, and short-term programs to this number. While tuition fees and living expenses are relatively moderate in Canada, many students need to work to cover some or all their costs. Nevertheless, do Canadian immigration laws allow them to work in Canada?
- No study permit!
- Minor children
- On the campus
- Healthcare students
- After completing studies
- Family members
- Destitute students
- Let us help!
Sometimes you may study in Canada without a study permit. For example, programs that are less than six months are exempt from a study permit. If you are studying without a study permit, then you may not work in Canada. Of course, if you hold a valid work permit, then you may work.
I hate to deliver bad news, but with one exception, there is no provision under the immigration law that allows working to this group of international students. Whether you are a minor or not, studying at an elementary or secondary program does not qualify you to work in Canada.
As I mentioned earlier, there is one exception to this rule. To benefit from this exceptional situation, you need to meet all of the following:
- You are studying in Quebec,
- the program is a secondary vocational program, leading to a diploma,
- the study permit is valid, and
- you work less than 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions, but up to full-time during usual breaks between academic sessions [Practitioners see R186(v)(ii)].
If you meet the conditions above, you may work on the campus or off-campus without a work permit. I have another article with more details on whether minor children could work in Canada or not.
Finally, some good news! You may work on the campus of your school if you meet all the following requirements:
- Your school is a university or college,
- you hold a valid study permit,
- you are a full-time student, and
- the work occurs when you have a valid study permit [Practitioners see R186(f)].
Some examples of working on the campus include, but not limited to,
- Teaching assistant (TA),
- Barista – working at the school café,
- Administrative assistant – office duties,
- Library attendant,
- Mailroom attendant,
- Research assistant,
- Fitness or personal trainer at the school gym,
- Social media assistant,
- Lifeguard, or
- The campus tour guide.
Many healthcare students need to work at hospitals or clinics as part of their studies. Luckily, they may work in those facilities, but their work needs to be limited to their training. The regulator of the field also must approve the work. Since regulators usually have broad agreements with the colleges and universities, the approval is not an issue in most cases [practitioners see – R186(p)].
As an international student, you may work off-campus only if you meet all the following requirements:
- You are a full-time student,
- your study permit is valid,
- the school is a designated learning institution, and
- you are taking a post-secondary professional, academic, or vocational program.
You may work full-time during regular school breaks (e.g. the winter break). However, you may only work up to 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions [Practitioners see R186(v)].
Imagine you have completed your studies. Can you continue working in Canada? The answer is yes, under one of the following circumstances:
- Transitional situation:
- You have completed your studies,
- your study permit is still valid,
- you have applied for a work permit, and
- the officer has not decided on your work permit application [Practitioners see R186(w)].
- Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP): You hold a valid PGWP [Practioners see R205(c)(ii)].
Spouses or common-law partners of international students may apply for an open work permit. However, they may only apply if the international student holds a valid study permit and engages in full-time studies at one of the following designated learning institutions:
- a public post-secondary institution,
- a secondary institution in Quebec offering a vocational program,
- publicly funded trade or technical schools, or
- private institutions authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees, such as Private Career Colleges in Ontario [Practitioners see LMIA exemption code C42].
Remember, working without a work permit is not an option for spouses or common-law partners. The duration of the work permit for the spouses typically matches the validity of the study permit for the international student.
Sometimes a significant unforeseen incident affects the financial status of an international student. For example, they may lose their parents or whoever pays for their expenses. Another example is an earthquake or flood back home that makes it impossible for their family members to support them. Luckily, the international student may apply for a temporary open work permit [Practitioners see R208(a)].
If you need help in securing a study permit or working as a student, fill out the following form. However, you may book an appointment with me or fill out our free assessment form.
If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. 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 advice from a licenced practitioner.
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.
The characters and places in the articles:
All the characters and locations in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Therefore, any resemblance in names, dates, and places is coincidental.
For our official addresses, trust this website only. We currently do not have offices outside Canada. Therefore, anyone who claims to be our agent is committing fraud. Also, note that we do not issue any work permits or study permits or similar documents. The government of Canada has the sole authority to issue such material.