International students enrolled at approved learning institutions can work up to 20 hours each week during scheduled breaks; however, no work may be performed prior to starting their studies.
Students completing study programs at participating DLIs that result in degrees recognized under provincial law may also qualify for post-graduation work permits after graduating.
If you are studying at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and can demonstrate to immigration officers that your studies will last the entirety of your permit, working on or off campus may be available without count towards your 20-hour off-campus limit per week. To do so however, a Social Insurance Number will be needed in order to be employed.
Your application for a Canadian visa must fulfill all the usual criteria, such as having a valid passport, proof of funds to support yourself during your stay and an acceptance letter from your school. In addition, additional criteria may apply depending on your country of origin and program nature.
Application processes vary between countries and can be complex, so it's wise to begin your study permit application early and gather all required documents. Your visa office will give specific instructions as to which documents must be provided to IRCC before considering your application, with no guarantee that all details may be provided and may even deny a study permit if all necessary details aren't supplied.
Once you complete your study program, upon graduation you are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows you to work anywhere across Canada for three years and requires no courses to be taken and no criminal record to qualify. Graduates often find this permit invaluable as it opens up numerous job opportunities while earning more money than working full-time as students alone.
If you are considering working while studying, meet with an immigration specialist for guidance and information on the process and steps necessary to start. Keep in mind that you must meet all requirements set by a visa officer at an interview; work with a professional so you can be certain your application will be successful so you can start working in Canada as quickly as possible.
Co-op Work Permit
Co-op work permits provide students with an opportunity to combine paid academic study with hands-on practical experience. Immigration Canada lists universities as their employer; however, any job accepted through co-op or internship programs counts towards fulfilling co-op work permit criteria and is therefore integral part of their course. Typically valid for the same duration as their study permit, students who receive this type of work permit often also receive one as an open work permit.
Students enrolled in programs requiring co-op internships should ensure they include details of their planned co-op on their application for an International Confirmation of Enrolment letter and indicate whether or not they plan on applying for a co-op work permit at their Canadian port of entry upon arriving in Canada.
International students wishing to work in Canada must satisfy all the minimum requirements of their study program, which may include showing they possess adequate financial resources. Anticipated future earnings cannot count as adequate financial resources and thus it is imperative that a student balances working hours and course loads accordingly.
International students typically can work 20 hours each week while their studies are in session. Students authorized to work off campus must also apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), otherwise they risk "being out of status" with the University and being required to leave if found working without appropriate permission.
Work experience in Canada can be an invaluable addition to a student's resume, helping them stand out in a competitive workforce and networking with professionals in their area of interest, which can increase chances of finding employment when they graduate.
IRCC has adopted a temporary public policy allowing international students to work after graduating, provided their program qualifies and their employer has been approved as sponsors of their Post-Graduation Work Permit application. This program gives graduating students an invaluable work experience that builds their resumes while giving them confidence for entering today's global economy.
Open Work Permit
If you are an international graduate student or new graduate studying or recently graduated in Canada who would like to gain work experience, an open work permit may be an option for you. It will last as long as your study permit and allows for any job - though certain professions such as those that involve children or healthcare settings will require medical exams beforehand.
Once you've graduated from an eligible educational institution, international students can also obtain a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). This program helps international students seamlessly transition into Canadian workforce, making life after school much simpler.
One prerequisite for applying for this work permit is studying full time for at least 8 months before graduating from your academic program, without switching between full and part time study loads during this timeframe. Applications must also be made within 180 days after finishing your program.
Some students can apply for an open work permit through their employer; this requires a Labour Market Impact Analysis (LMIA), however. Such work permits are typically only granted if the position in question is highly sought after and no Canadian citizen or permanent resident exists to fill it.
International students looking for open work permits have another avenue available to them through International Experience Canada (IEC), which offers work and travel opportunities in Canada for young adults from specific countries.
If you apply for an open work permit through this program, a visa interview at your home country's Canadian Consulate will be mandatory. Officials will conduct this interview to make sure you intend on returning when your work permit has expired as well as being honest about employment history and credentials. They will ask you to sign a document certifying that all information submitted was honest as well as having committed no offenses while living in Canada.
Spouse or Common-Law Partner
International students bringing their spouse or common-law partner can apply for an open work permit that will enable them to work both on and off campus, providing vital financial assistance during studies. Usually valid for the same length as their study permit, this type of work permit should help support themselves while studying takes place.
This approach aligns with the government's goal of building an inclusive and diverse Canada, encouraging those not traditionally employed to contribute to its economy and social fabric. However, some labour advocates have voiced criticism, stating that such efforts encourage Canada to rely on an underpaid temporary workforce and depress wages and working conditions across the board for all Canadians.
Common law couples follow many of the same rules and requirements as married couples, yet with some differences. For instance, in BC to qualify as a "common-law" spouse one must have lived together for at least a set period (similar to what's required of marriage partners), live conjugally and share relationship responsibilities and assets; however a common-law partner doesn't enjoy equal rights upon separation and cannot claim spousal support payments from either partner.
As with a marriage, being in a common-law relationship does not prevent you from sponsoring your partner into the country, but additional proof will need to be presented in order to validate it. This may require providing statutory declarations from individuals familiar with your relationship as well as providing supporting evidence such as photos from trips or dates, text messaging logs, emails, instant messages gifts and receipts as proof.
Whoever wishes to bring their dependents as permanent residents must demonstrate they possess sufficient financial resources in case their support needs increase, as well as significant ties with Canada such as property, family relationships, bank accounts or driver's licenses. Sponsors must also undergo medical exams and submit supporting documentation.