Studying as an international student in Canada is full of wonderful opportunities!
Amongst these is that Canada has an extremely generous range of work privileges for international students. These include opportunities to work on and off campus, and to get a work permit of up to three years after graduation (Post-graduation Work Permit or PGWP).
It is important at all times to carefully follow Canadian laws including the laws especially for international students. So when it comes to work opportunities, there are two main types of opportunities to be familiar with.
What work is permitted or not permitted?
As a general guideline, most study permits include a work permit at the point of issue. If your study permit includes this work permit you are eligible to work on the institution campus, or off-campus (including co-op work programs).
You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which you can apply for immediately upon arrival. The SIN is used to track all employment income and to file personal taxes in Canada.
SIN Information is available at this link https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/sin.html
You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.
You also have to stop working (i) on the day you stop studying full-time or (ii) when your study permit expire or (iii) if you’re on an authorized leave from your studies or (iv)if you’re switching schools and aren’t currently studying.
If you are eligible to work on-campus or off-campus but this was not included in your study permit, there is a process to apply for this after arrival. Most institutions have an office that will help an international student apply for this. There is no extra fee and it is fairly simple.
However, if a work permit is important to you it is very important that you verify with the institution you are planning to attend that the program is eligible for a work permit. Some reasons that a program may not be eligible include (i) the institution is not a Designated Learning Institute (DLI) for which Canada Immigration will issue a work permit or (ii) the institution is eligible but the specific program is not eligible for a work permit or (iii) the program is too short (less than 6 months in length).
For DLI information, please see:
How many hours a week can I work?
On-campus You can work as many hours as you want, in addition to working off campus, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements for working on campus.
During regular school terms/semesters
The official Canadian government website states:
You can work up to 20 hours per week while studying full-time. You can work more than 1 job to make up these hours as long as you continue to meet the conditions of your study permit.
Working more than 20 hours per week during regular school terms or semesters is not permitted. If you violate this limit you may lose student status or even need to leave Canada.
During scheduled breaks in the school year (for example, summer break) The official Canadian government website states:
You can work full-time if you’re on a scheduled break, such as winter and summer holidays, or a fall or spring reading week. You’re free to work overtime or work 2 part-time jobs that add up to a higher than usual number of hours. You must be a full-time student both before and after the break to work full-time. You can’t work during a break that comes before you start your very first school semester.
What if I want to make money doing my own job? The official Canadian government website states:
If you’re a self-employed person, you’re also responsible for keeping track of the hours you work off campus and proving that you’re complying with the conditions of your study permit. So the same rules apply as if you were employed in other jobs. Unless it is during a scheduled break in the school year, there is a 20 hour weekly limit.
It is important to consult the Canadian government website for the latest information as the rules are subject to being changed: