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international students off-campus work

Canada international students can now work unlimited hours off-campus

IRCC temporarily lifts cap on off-campus work hours

Updated November 17; first published October 12, 2022. Starting November 15, international students can temporarily work more than 20 hours per week. On October 7, 2022 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced temporarily lifting off-campus work hours for international students. It will also automate the processing of study permit extensions.

From November 15, post-secondary international students will be able to work as many hours as they like during school season. The temporary measure will be in place until December 31, 2023.

The announcement is in recognition of the challenges Canadian employers are currently facing in finding and retaining workers.

This is a one-time measure to help with Canada’s labour shortage, particularly in positions traditionally held by students such as food services, retail, and hospitality. However, there are no restrictions on the type of employment.

The new measure means that the 500,000 international students already in Canada are allowed to work more hours.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced two temporary measures in support of international students and Canadian employers:

  • Temporary lifting of the current restriction on off-campus work hours for eligible post-secondary international students between November 15, 2022, and December 31, 2023.
  • Pilot project for the automation of certain study permit extension applications.

Fraser says these measures will allow over 500,000 international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.

These temporary measures will also apply to foreign students who submitted a study permit application as of Octgober 7. They will also be able to benefit from this policy if Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada approves their application.

Note that students must continue to meet IRCC’s requirements for their study permits for off-campus work, including enrollment in full-time studies.

Lifting the 20 hours limit for off-campus work

Currently, eligible post-secondary international students in Canada with valid study permits are permitted to work off-campus up to 20 hours per week during school. This limit is lifted during scheduled breaks such as the summer and winter holidays.

The limit is to ensure that international students can support themselves financially while also while still focusing on completing their studies rather than be focused on working in Canada.

The temporary lifting will now enable international students to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus during school season. More off-campus work is an opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada. The experience will boost their Express Entry CRS score when they later apply for permanent residency under Express Entry. Moreover, working international students will be supporting Canadian employers during Canada’s post-pandemic growth.

Automation of certain study permit extensions

IRCC says it is also piloting a project to automate the processing of study permit extension applications. Specific details will be released later. The move is in recognition of the high approval rate of most study permit extension applications.

IRCC also reminded international students of recent initiatives to further facilitate international study in Canada. For example, IRCC has put in place a transition period for those studying online from abroad. IRCC has also implemented an opportunity for students with expired or expiring Post Graduate Work Permits to obtain an additional 18-month open work permit. Under PGWP eligible international students can get an open work permit to work for any employer in Canada for up to three years.

See Canada’s PGWP International Students can now stay longer in Canada.

Also Canada announces Open Work Permits for expired PGWP holders.

Canada is a top destination for international students

Canada remains a top pick for international students. In 2021 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued 621,565 study permits. That’s up almost 17.7 per cent from the 528,190 in 2020. That is impressively as high as the pre-pandemic levels. And it is only 2.6 per cent lower than the record of 638,280 study permits set in 2019.

Between January and August 2022, Canada already processed more than 452,000 study permit applications. That is a 23% increase compared to the 367,000 processed over January to August of 2021.

Currently there are some 125,966 applications for study permits outstanding with IRCC, and another 34,000 applications for study permit extension.

The Honorable Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister, said:

“With the economy growing at a faster rate than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and workforce needed to fuel our growth.”

“By allowing international students to work more while they study, we can help ease pressing needs in many sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”

Canada study permit as Pathway

A pathway is a sequence of steps that assure you of potential permanence residence under many Canadian immigration programs.

Working while studying improves international students eligibility for Canadian permanent residence. Canada’s international students can start building work experience for PR application under Express Entry.

After graduation international students can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). PGWP enables international graduates to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

Canadian work experience through PGWP adds high points to a candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking Score (CRS) in Canada’s Express Entry immigration pool, especially in the Canadian Experience Class category.

PGWP is valid to up to three years after graduation.

See also Update – Canada Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathways