Working In Canada as an International Student – Dos and Don’ts

As an international student, there are lots of opportunities for you to work; on campus and off campus.

Most international students in Canada come here on scholarships and already have part of their expenses (such as tuition) taken care of for them. However, whether that is the case or not, students are bound to have unforeseen expenses and spend above what they receive. Even when that doesn’t happen, it’s always nice to have an extra buck. In that case, working in Canada as an international student becomes a wise path.

Working in Canada as an international student has a lot of advantages, but it also has rules that must be followed to avoid breaking the country’s law. In this article, we are going to discuss the dos and don’ts of the trade, and within what limits you can explore them.

Can I work in Canada as an International Student?

Luckily for you, the answer is yes. As long as your study visa permits it, you can work in Canada as an international student. However, your study visa only permits 20 hours of part-time work per week (or full-time, during the holidays or scheduled breaks).

If your study permit contains a condition allowing you to work on or off-campus, you may be able to work in Canada while studying. You must also satisfy all of the other prerequisites.

However, you can only start working in Canada when you start your study program.  International students are not permitted to start work with their study visas until such a time as those studies begin.

Eligibility Requirements for Working in Canada as an International Students

Any international student enrolling full-time in an academic, vocational, or professional program may be eligible for on-campus or off-campus employment. The study permit granted to the student acts both as permission to study and a license to work in Canada. To be eligible to work in Canada, students must be engaged in full-time courses and have good academic standing, with at least a 2.0-grade point average.

Essentially, you may be qualified to work as a student on or off-campus if you satisfy the following requirements.

  • You’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution
  • You’re enrolled in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program
  • Your study program is at least 6 months long and leads to a degree, diploma, and certificate
  • You’ve started studying
  • Your study permit has a clause that grants you permission to work.
  • You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

What is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the Canadian government. To work in Canada, you must have a SIN. A SIN can be obtained in three ways: online, via mail, or in person. Some documentation will be required, including a study permit indicating that you are permitted to work on or off-campus.

If your study permit does not include work requirements and you are qualified to work, you must request an adjustment to your study permit before applying for a SIN.

Other exceptions to working in Canada as an international student 

Certain exceptions exist to working as an international student in Canada. They include;

  • You’re studying part-time because you’re in the final semester of your program and also don’t require a full coursework to finish.
  • If you’re on authorized leave from your studies, you can resume work when you’re back to studying

Who is not Eligible to Work in Canada as an International Student?

As an international student in Canada, you are not eligible to work in Canada if;

  • Your study permit expires
  • You stop studying full time; that is, unless you’re in your final semester
  • You’re on authorized leave from your studies
  • You’re switching schools and aren’t currently studying

You can return to work only once you’re back to studying and meet all the requirements to work on-campus.

Working in Canada as an International Student

As an international student in Canada, there are lots of opportunities for you to work; on campus, off campus, etc. Certain schools allow students gain part-time employment in the library and other school facilities.

Students can also move outside the school to seek part-time employment at coffee shops, bars, cinemas, remote jobs, etc. As long as it falls within the permitted hours, it’s fine. All you need do is find a job that does that.

Here are some of the oppportunities you can get to work in Canada as an international student;

On-Campus

International students can work on campus without a work permit as long as they’re full-time students in a post-secondary educational institution, have a valid study permit and a SIN.

An on-campus employer can be:

  • The institution
  • A faculty member
  • A student organization
  • A private business/contractor that provides on-campus services to the school
  • Yourself, if you run a business that is physically located on-campus

Off-Campus

If their study permit allows it, international students may work off-campus without a work permit. You are only permitted to work up to 20 hours a week while your program is in session and full-time during school breaks.

Work as an Intern

Some academic programs require that you gain work experience as part of the curriculum. You can apply for an intern work permit if:

  • You have a valid study permit
  • The work experience is required to complete your study program in Canada
  • You have a letter from your school stating that all students in your school need to complete work placements to get a degree
  • Your internship comprises less than 50% of your study program

Unfortunately, you will not be eligible if you study English or French as a second language (ESL or FSL) and take general interest or preparatory courses.

Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

The Post-Graduation Work Permit allows international students who have graduated from accredited Canadian educational institutions to get significant work experience in Canada. It permits the holder to work for any employer in Canada for as many hours as they like.

To obtain a post-graduation work permit, the applicant must

  • Apply within 180 days of the completion of their program of study
  • Currently hold valid status in Canada. If their study permit has expired, they may apply for status as a visitor before applying for the PGWP or apply from overseas.
  • Have completed an academic, vocational, or professional training at an eligible institution in Canada that is at least 8 months in duration leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate
  • Have maintained full-time student status in Canada during their program of study. However, if a student studied part-time during their final academic session, they’re still eligible for a PGWP.
  • Have received a transcript and an official letter from their institution confirming that they have indeed completed their program of study.

Students who are not eligible to work on or off campus?

  • Students on a visitor visa
  • High school students
  • Part-time students (enrolled in less than 9 credits)
  • Students on a leave of absence or medical leave
  • Students on that does not meet the academic standing, for example, those with GPA lower than 2 ( e.g. students on suspension or those who failed majority of their courses, withdrew from courses or arbitrarily took time off from studies at VIU)
  • New international students working before their program of study commenced.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are international students legally entitled to work in Canada?

Yes. Students who possess a study permit and are enrolled full-time in a designated learning institution (DLI), may work in Canada.

How many hours can international students work?

International students can work up to 20 hours per week during the session. During breaks, they can work up to 40 hours per week during vacation

How much can an international student earn in Canada?

International students can work up to 20 hours per week, and that’s approximately CAD 8 – CAD 10 per hour.

Which job is best in Canada for international students?

The top 5 highest paying jobs for international students in Canada are freelancing, library attendant, event catering, tutoring, teaching/research assistant.

What if international students work over 20 hours per week in Canada?

Working over 20 hours per week is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status for doing this. In addition, you may not be approved for a study or work permit subsequently and you may be asked to leave the country.

Can international students stay in Canada after graduation?

International students can stay to live and work in Canada after graduation for a maximum of three years courtesy of the post-graduation work permit.

What if my Canada Study Permit does not grant express permission to work?

If your study permit does not grant you permission to work, you can go to the embassy and have it added. Note, however, that there is no extra charge for such an addition.

Conclusion

Working as a student in Canada exposes you to the Canadian workplace and allows you to develop your abilities. It is an excellent opportunity for you to expand your network as an international student, gain useful work experience for your resume, and boost your employability in the Canadian job market.