Working 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.
Table of contents
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 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.
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,
- You have applied for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) or another type of work permit, but an officer has not decided on your PGWP application, and
- When applying for a work permit, you had a valid status in Canada.
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!
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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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