International students with a valid study permit may work while studying in Canada without a work permit.
WORK ON CAMPUS
You can only start working in Canada when you begin your study program. You can’t before your studies begin. You can work on your school campus, without a work permit, if you:
- Are a full-time post-secondary student at a:
- public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
- private college-level school in Quebec that operates under the same rules as public schools, and is at least 50% funded by government grants, or
- Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law
- Have a valid study permit
- Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
You should stop working on-campus on the day you stop studying full-time, or when your study permit expires, or
if you’re on authorized leave from your studies, or if you’re switching schools and aren’t currently studying.
You can return to work only once you’re back to studying, and you meet all the requirements to work on-campus.
Where you can work
“On-campus” means you can work at all the buildings on your school campus. If your school has more than one campus, you may only work at the campus where you’re studying in most cases. You can work at other locations if you’re working as a teaching or research assistant, and your work is strictly related to a research grant. In this case, you may work at a library, hospital, or research facility associated with your school, even if they’re outside the campus.
Who you can work for
An “on-campus” employer can be the school, a faculty member, a student organization, you if you run a business physically located on-campus, a private business establishment, or a private contractor that provides on-campus services to the school.
You and your employer must make sure you can work off-campus without a work permit before you start working. If
you work off-campus but don’t meet the requirements, you may have to leave Canada.
You can work off-campus without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:
- You’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- Your enrolment is in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
- Your study program is at least six months long and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
- You’ve started studying
- You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
If you’re a part-time student, you can work off-campus only if:
- You meet all of the above requirements, and
- You’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because you’re in the last semester of your study program, and you don’t need a full course load to complete your study program, and you were a full-time student in your study program in Canada, up until your last semester
If you’re on authorized leave from your studies, or you’re switching schools, and you’re not studying, you can’t work off-campus. You can only return to work once you’re back to studying.
How many hours can you work off-campus?
During regular school terms/semesters, you can work up to 20 hours per week. Working more than 20 hours
is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status and may be refused a study or
work permit in the future. You may also have to leave the country.
During scheduled breaks in the school year, you can work full-time. Scheduled breaks include winter holidays, summer holidays, and fall or spring reading week. You’re free to work overtime or work two part-time jobs that add up to a higher than the usual number of hours. You must be a full-time student both before and after the break to work full-time. You can’t during the break that comes before you start your very first school semester.
Who can’t work off-campus?
You can’t work off-campus without a work permit if any of these situations apply to you:
- Your study permit says you aren’t authorized to work off-campus while you study
- Your enrolment is only in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program
- You’re only taking general interest courses
- You’re only taking courses required for acceptance into a full-time program
- Your situation changes, and you no longer meet all of the requirements to work off-campus
If any of these situations apply to you, and you want to work while studying in Canada, you need to apply for a work permit.
What if your study situation changes?
If you weren’t eligible to work off-campus, but your study situation has now changed, you may be able to change
the conditions of your study permit. You must apply to change them. There’s a fee to make this change.
You can apply to change the conditions of your permit if you’ve changed your study program to one that may allow you to work off-campus and your study permit says, “This permit does not permit the holder to engage in off-campus employment in Canada” OR your study permit includes a condition that may no longer apply.
Example: You already have a study permit to complete prerequisite courses, such as an ESL or FSL course. You now receive an acceptance into a full-time study program. This development would mean you could apply to have the condition (not being allowed to work off-campus) removed from your study permit.
WORKING AFTER YOU COMPLETE YOUR STUDY PROGRAM
After you complete your study program, you may be able to work full-time if you already applied for a work permit before your study permit expired or you’re starting a new study program. If your work or study permit application gets rejected, you must stop working and leave Canada.
If you already applied for a work permit
You can work full-time while waiting for a decision on your work permit application if you were allowed to work off-campus during studies, and you applied for a work permit or post-graduation work permit (PGWP) before your study permit expired.
If you’re starting a new study program
You can work full-time if you meet all of these requirements:
- You were already able to work off-campus during your previous studies
- You have a valid study permit, or you applied to extend your study permit before it expired
- You received written confirmation from your current school that you completed your program
- You received a letter of acceptance to a new full-time study program at a DLI
- You’ll start your new program within 150 calendar days of receiving the confirmation that you completed your previous program
GET A SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. With this
number, you can work in Canada and get government benefits and services.
To apply for a SIN from Service Canada to work on campus, you must have 1 of these conditions printed on your study permit:
- May accept employment on or off-campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186 (f), (v), or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
- This permit does not authorize the holder to engage in off-campus employment in Canada. May accept employment only on campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186 (f). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
If you’re eligible to work on campus, but either of these conditions is not included on your study permit, you
can ask to have them added. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your study permit.
To apply for a SIN from Service Canada to work off-campus, you must have 1 of these conditions printed on your study permit:
- May work 20 hours per week off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186 (v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
- May accept employment on or off-campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186 (f), (v), or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.
If you’re eligible to work off-campus, but either of these conditions is not included on your study permit, you can ask to have them added. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your study permit.
WORK AS A CO-OP STUDENT OR INTERN
Some study programs include work experience as part of their curriculum. You can apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:
- You have a valid study permit
- Work is required to complete your study program in Canada
- You have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your study program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
- Your co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of your study program
You aren’t eligible for a co-op work permit if you’re taking English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL),
General interest courses, or Courses to prepare for another study program.
If you’re not eligible for a co-op work permit, but you want to work in Canada, you need to apply for a work permit.
How to apply
How you apply for a co-op work permit depends on if you already applied for your study permit or not.
- If you already applied for your study permit and you are in Canada, in most cases, you must apply online for your co-op work permit. You don’t have to pay any fees to get a co-op work permit. If you can’t apply online, you can submit a paper application if you can’t apply online because of a disability or there’s a problem with the online application.
- If you already applied for your study permit but haven’t yet travelled to Canada, you need to apply for an open work permit. The work permit will let you complete the work placement you need to graduate. If you apply for your work permit from outside Canada, and you arrive in Canada before it is processed, you may need to return to a port of entry to get it. It’s best to apply for your work permit with your study permit.
- If you haven’t already applied for your study permit, you can apply for your co-op work permit at the same time. Your acceptance letter from your designated learning institution must confirm that a co-op or internship placement is part of your program’s curriculum.
Get in Touch for more information about Work while Studying in Canada or for assistance in applying for a change in conditions of your study permit or applying for a work permit.