Working while Studying in Canada - Easy or Difficult?
Studying abroad is a costly affair. Even with scholarships and student loans, a little extra cash goes a long way in making your experience pleasant. As such, working while you study is an option that interests all international students. Canada, with the latest amendments to the Immigration and Refugees Act, has become a most favourable destination.
To begin with, as an international student, you can have three options for work. We discuss all three separately and what rules apply below.
There is no change in the rules pertaining to working on campus. If you are a student and have a valid study permit, you are eligible to work On-Campus. As long as you are not hampering your academic score, you can apply for and get the jobs available on campus. They usually include jobs at any local business inside the campus or the more research/ teacher assistant jobs. Many Universities in Canada have a designated officer on campus who would be able to assist you in finding a suitable job.
Students applying for a Study Permit on are after June 1, 2014, have good news. You need not apply for a separate Work Permit. According to the new rules applicable from June 1, 2014, if you have a valid study permit you are automatically eligible to work off-campus without a work permit.
Full-time students pursuing an academic, professional or vocational training program at a designated learning institution will be:
- Eligible to work off-campus without a work permit
- Allowed to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during a regular academic session and full time during regularly scheduled breaks
- Able to work off-campus immediately after reaching Canada rather than waiting six months as per earlier rules
It is important to note however that in order to work, you must register yourself and get enrolled at your designated learning institute. It is also required for you to apply for and get a Social Insurance Number from Service Canada.
Students already in Canada or the students who have applied for the Study Permit before June 1, 2014, still require the Work Permit under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program (OCWPP). Though the participating institutes are no longer required to provide attendance and status reports about the students working off-campus under the OCWPP, if you have applied for a Study Permit before June 1, 2014, you must apply for and get a Work Permit before you start working off-campus. In the case for students already with a Work Permit, the rules remain the same as defined under the OCWPP.
To sum it up for you, your eligibility to work Off-Campus with or without a Work Permit depends on the conditions written on your Study Permit. It becomes your responsibility and that of the employer hiring your services to make certain of your eligibility.
You are not eligible to work Off-Campus if you are studying English or French as a second language or are enrolled in any of the preparatory courses. In this scenario, you would have to appear for an Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada. Once you receive a positive assessment, you can apply for a work permit and work off-campus.
Working under the Co-Op/ Internship Program
A co-op program is defined as a study program with integrated on the job training. Usually, the student gets academic credits or a stipend in some cases. Their programs have alternating work semesters. Internship programs, on the other end, require you to complete a semester or two of work experience after completion of the course or during the stipulated breaks between semesters.
No matter which of the two you have sought admission in, if you have applied for a Work Permit on or after June 1, 2014, you can work under a co-op/internship program only if you prove that it is an integral part of the curriculum. In other words, your designated learning institute must validate that working is important for the academic/ vocation or professional training program undertaken by you. Once that is verified, you would have to apply for and get a co-op work permit along with your Study Permit.
If you are studying English or French as a second language or are enrolled in any of the preparatory courses, you are not eligible for a co-op work permit. Again for this, you would have to appear for an Assessment from Employment and Social Development Canada. Once you receive a positive assessment, you can apply for a work permit and work off-campus.
If you are not studying at a designated institute but already have a co-op work permit as on June 1, 2014, then you can:
- Work for the duration of your current permit; and
- Renew your co-op work permit in order to complete your program, but not beyond June 1, 2017.
Alternatively, if you have a co-op work permit but are not enrolled in a qualified academic, vocational or professional training program you can continue to work for the duration of your current permit. As mentioned earlier, you can also apply for and get a renewal for your work permit to complete your program but not beyond June 1, 2017.
To cut a long story short, your eligibility for working in Canada while you study in Canada depends on your Study Permit and whether or not you are enrolled in a designated institute. We recommend that you understand the criterion for your Study Permit before you plan your overseas education in Canada. The country, however, continues to be a rather favourable destination with easy immigration laws and options to continue to work in Canada after completing your education. So if Canada attracts you, we suggest you get packing.