International students in Canada allowed to work off-campus over 20 hours per week

Over 500,000 international students already in Canada potentially work off-campus more hours from November 15, 2022 to December 31, 2023.

International students in Canada allowed to work off-campus over 20 hours per week

Do you want to work while studying in Canada?  As an international student, you may be eligible to work in Canada while studying and after you graduate. There are many work permit programs for international students and their spouses/common law partners to make working in Canada possible.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the temporary lifting of the 20-hour-per-week cap on the number of hours that eligible post-secondary students are allowed to work off-campus while class is in session.

1.  Working for an employer off-campus

From November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, international students who are in Canada and who have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will not be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. Study permit holders are still expected to balance their study and work commitments, as those who stop studying or reduce course loads to only study part-time are not eligible to work off-campus.

This measure will provide many international students with a greater opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada, and will increase the availability of workers to sustain Canada’s post-pandemic growth. With more than 500,000 international students already in Canada available to potentially work additional hours, this temporary change reflects the important role international students can play in addressing our labour shortage, while continuing to pursue their studies.

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)
  • you’re enrolled 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 6 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 at a DLI

You can work off campus only if:

  • you meet all of the requirements above, except the requirement to be a full-time student,
  • 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 program and
    • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester

Students that are not eligible to work off campus include:

  • your study permit says you aren’t authorized to work off campus while you study
  • you’re only enrolled 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 to be accepted into a full-time program
  • your situation changes and you no longer meet all of the requirements to work off campus

2.  Working for an employer on-campus

Students may be eligible to work within the campus

A student may be eligible to work within the campus of where they are registered as long as the student meets certain eligibility criteria. They must:

  • hold a valid study permit
  • have a social insurance number (SIN)
  • be registered as a full time post-secondary student at a public post-secondary school (such as a college or university), a private college level school in Quebec.

The employment can be for:

  • the school,
  • a faculty member,
  • a private business on campus,
  • a student organization,
  • a private contractor providing services to the school, or
  • self-employed on-campus.

Students may work at a library, hospital or research facility associated with the school if the student is working as a teaching or research assistant or if the work is directly related to a research grant.

Students that are not eligible to work on campus include:

  • students who stop studying full time, unless they are in their final semester and meet other requirements
  • students whose study permit has expired
  • students taking an authorized leave from their studies
  • students switching schools and aren’t currently studying

3.  The co-op work permit

The co-op work permit is a separate, closed-work permit. It may only be used for work that is essential to the program of study. Work experience that is considered essential to the program of study is work undertaken for program credits and is required in order for the student to graduate.

A student who is studying at a DLI in Canada and requires a mandatory work placement or internship must apply for a co-op or intern work permit in addition to a valid study permit.

Students may have a standard work authorization granted by their student permit as well as a co-op work permit, meaning they can simultaneously have a job unrelated to their study program and be working in a mandatory work placement.

Students may be eligible to apply for a co-op work permit if they:

  • hold a valid study permit
  • are enrolled in a study program that requires mandatory work placement in order to obtain credits for the program
  • have a letter from the educational institution authorizing the work placement, and confirming that the work placement is required for the study program

4.  How your partner can work when you are students in Canada?

The spouse or common-law partner of an international student may be eligible for an open work permit if the student:

  • holds a valid study permit
  • is eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
  • is a full-time student at one of these types of schools: a public post-secondary school, a private college level school in Quebec or a Canadian private school that can legally award degree under provincial law.

5. What is a study permit for international students in Canada?

The study permit is a document that is issued to allow international students to study at designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada. Most international students need a study permit to study in Canada. Make sure you have all the documents you need before you apply. You should apply before you travel to Canada.


  • Acceptance Letter: You must have an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) to apply for a Canadian study permit.
  • Proof of Financial Support: You must provide documentation proving that you have sufficient funds to cover the cost of tuition for your first year of study as well as the cost of living (housing, food, etc.) for yourself and any accompanying family members.
  • Supporting Documentation: Extensive supporting documentation must be submitted with all study permit applications. This documentation varies from country-to-country. To determine the documents required for a specific location, you can consult the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, or you can contact our firm and one of our Educational Counsellors will contact you with assistance.

6. How to work after you graduate

Students in Canada may apply Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation

A study permit is usually valid for the length of your study program, plus an extra 90 days. The 90 days let you either

  • prepare to leave Canada or
  • apply to extend your stay

Once the student graduates, they may be able to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP is an open work permit, allowing the holder to work for an employer of their choice and is valid for up to three years.

In order to be eligible for a PGWP, the international student must meet the following criteria:

  • completed studies in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least eight months long at a DLI
  • study program must have led to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • held full-time student status in Canada during every academic semester of the program of study completed and included as part of the PGWP application
  • received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study

The student must also have graduated from one of the following:

  • a public post-secondary institution,
  • a private post-secondary school, a private secondary or post-secondary school in Quebec that offers programs that result in the issuance of a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP), or
  • a Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree) but only if the student was enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province.

The major benefit of the PGWP is that international graduates can gain professional work experience in Canada, which is helpful when they go on to apply for Canadian immigration. In general, a PGWP holder needs to gain one year of professional work experience in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code of 0, A or B to be eligible for a Canadian permanent residence program.

Apply to study in Canada as an international student, extend your study permit and find out about working while you study or after you graduate.

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