Working while studying in Canada

Work While Studying in Canada

Magdalena is an international student at Humber College in Toronto. She is a Finnish citizen. Magdalena, whose friends call her Leena, is doing a two-year business program leading to a post-secondary diploma. She started her studies only a few weeks ago. Of course, like most other international students, Leena needs to work to cover part of her expenses. Despite some research, she is unsure if she can work off-campus. Leena also doesn’t know if she needs to apply for a work permit.

Canada is highly attractive to international students. Relatively low tuition fees and living costs, the high quality of education, and the ability to work while you are studying are some enticing reasons to choose Canada for your studies. Of course, as an international student, you could eventually immigrate to Canada. Before you get too excited, make sure to read the rest of this article.

Who can work while studying in Canada?

As a rule of thumb, you may work while studying in Canada if you meet all the following requirements.

You generally can’t work off-campus unless you are a full-time student. However, an exception exists for your final semester; you can work up to 20 hours off-campus if you have a lighter course load.

Working after finishing your studies

Also, if you have completed your studies, you may continue working in Canada; if you meet the following criteria,

After completing your studies, there may be a delay in receiving your official graduation letter. During this period, you can continue to work part-time as long as your study permit is valid. I also have another article that explains this issue in detail.

If you finish your studies but enroll in another study program, you may continue working full-time between the two programs, assuming you have either a valid study permit or you have applied for a new study permit before the expiration of the first one. However, if the gap between the two programs is more than 150 days, you may only work for the first 150 days.

Who cannot work while studying in Canada?

Generally speaking, if you do not meet the requirements of the previous headline, you may not work in Canada, but to be more clear, you may not work if any of the following applies to you.

  • You are a minor;
  • You are studying at pre-school, primary school, or secondary school levels;
  • Your school is not a designated learning institution;
  • You are not a full-time student;
  • Your study permit is not valid;
  • You have completed your studies and have not applied for a PGWP or
  • Your education does not require a study permit, and you have not asked for one.

Remember that even if a single one of the above applies to you, working in Canada is not an option.

Work conditions for students

You may work on-campus or off-campus. Also, you may work up to 20 hours per week during your studies and full-time during regular school breaks (e.g. the winter break, if less than 150 days). However, you can only start working after you’ve commenced your studies at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Also, you must maintain your full-time student status to benefit from this opportunity.

You can usually work for any employer in your region. However, IRCC prohibits you from working for businesses that are mainly in the adult industry. Some examples include exotic dances, escort services, and erotic massages. You may not even work as an accountant or a marketing manager for those businesses.

When you receive your study permit, make sure to read all the conditions posted on it. Sometimes, the limitations are more than what I described above.

What about an internship or co-op work?

Sometimes, you need to work for an employer as an intern or a co-op student as part of your study. Unfortunately, you need a work permit for those activities. Fortunately, you may apply from within Canada. You usually receive an open work permit for internship or co-op work.

What if your situation changes?

Unwanted matters could happen in anybody’s life. Suppose you suddenly lose your financial support from your home country due to some difficult and unforeseen situation. For example, an internal war erupts in your home country, or your family goes bankrupt. In these circumstances, you may apply for a work permit as a destitute student. Such work permits are open. They help you overcome your financial problems and return to your studies immediately.

Please note that if you face circumstances like a school strike, you can still only work part-time off-campus.

Some scenarios to help you

I have published another article that explores ten scenarios related to off-campus work in Canada. Please check it out!

Let us help!

If you intend to study in Canada, submit the following form. Alternatively, you may book an appointment with me or fill out our assessment form.

    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?

    Do you have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institute?

    Additional information (optional but helpful)

    Please share more information to help us better assess you:

    Are you currently inside Canada?

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    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.

    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    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.

    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.

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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.