Student Work Permit

Studying and working in Canada as an international student

Work while you study, help your spouse or common-law partner get a work permit while you study, work temporarily or stay permanently in Canada after you graduate as an international student.

Who can work on-campus

You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.

You can work as an international student in Canada if your study permit lists a condition that says you’re allowed to work on- or off-campus.

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, and
  • have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Who can’t work on campus

You must stop working on-campus:

  • on the day you stop studying full-time
  • when your study permit expires
  • if you’re on an authorized leave from your studies
  • 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
  • yourself, if:
    • you run a business that is physically located on-campus (for example: you own a coffee shop that is located on campus)
  • a private business
  • a private contractor that provides on-campus services to the school

Get a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 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 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 we didn’t include either of these conditions on your study permit, you can ask to have them added. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your permit.

Who can work off-campus

You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.

You and your employer must make sure you can work off-campus without a work permit before you start working. If you start working off-campus but don’t meet the requirements, you may have to leave Canada.

You can work as an international student in Canada if your study permit lists a condition that says you’re allowed to work on- or off-campus.

You can work off-campus, without a work permit, if you meet all of these requirements:

  • you have a valid study permit that includes a condition that says you can work off-campus
  • 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
    • secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
  • you’ve started studying
  • your study program
    • is at least 6 months long, and
    • leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • 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 requirements above and you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:

  • you’re in the last semester of your study program
  • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester
  • you don’t need a full course load to complete your program

If you’re on an 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

Get a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. You need it to work in Canada.

To apply for a SIN 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, must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.

If you’re eligible to work off-campus, but we didn’t include either of these conditions on your study permit, you can ask to have them added. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your permit.

You’ll need to request an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN from Service Canada.

How many hours can you work off-campus?

You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.

During regular school semesters:

  • you can work up to 20 hours

During scheduled breaks in your school year, like during winter and summer holidays:

  • you can work full-time
  • you can’t work during a break that comes before you start your very first school semester

If your program doesn’t have scheduled academic breaks, you can’t work more than 20 hours per week.

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
  • 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

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.

If your study situation changed

If you weren’t eligible to work off-campus but now your study situation changed, you may be able to change the conditions of your study permit.

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
  • we included a condition on your study permit that may no longer apply

You must apply to change the conditions of your study permit. There is a fee to make this change. You must do this before you can apply for a SIN. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a new study permit from within Canada. Include a letter explaining why you need the condition removed from your study permit with your application.

Work as a co-op student or intern

Eligibility

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 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 one of the following:

  • 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.

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