Working while Studying in Canada
Magdalena is an international student at Humber College in Toronto. She is a Finish citizen. Magdalena whose friends call her Leena is doing a two-year business program which will lead 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. In spite of some research, she is not quite sure if she can work off campus. Leen also doesn’t know if she needs to apply for a work permit.
Canada is a huge magnet for 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.
Which Students May Work in Canada?
As a rule of thumb, if you meet all the following requirements, you may work while you are studying in Canada.
- You are a full-time student;
- your study permit is valid;
- you are studying at a post-secondary level; and
- your school is a designated learning institution.
Also, if you have completed your studies, you may continue working in Canada, if you meet the following criteria,
- Your study permit is still valid; and
- You have applied for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP), but an officer has not rendered a decision on your PGWP application.
Which Students May Not Work 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.
What are the Conditions on Working as a Student?
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). You usually can 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 Internship or Co-op Work?
Sometimes as part of your study, you need to work for an employer as an intern or a co-op student. 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 My Circumstances Change?
Unwanted matters could happen in anybody’s lives. Suppose, you suddenly lose your financial support from your home country due to some severe 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 go back to your studies as soon as you can.
If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.
This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should 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.