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Work while studying in Canada

For many decades Canada has been attracting thousands of international students into its higher educational institutions by also offering them possibilities of working part-time. For those who want to pursue either bachelor’s or master’s studies, the job market in Canada is always an easy catch. Yes it’s possible for International  students can work in Canada as it helps them to cover the living expenses while studying in Canada, the option of working is quite fulfilling and motivates students to go on with their academic life. There are many jobs that are offered to international students, and they must only choose the area of interest. Working as a student will significantly enrich your CV,  make you an independent person, can help you develop business contacts and gain practical experience for the future.

 Wages or salaries for work in Canada will depend on the skills required for your position and the employer. Minimum wage varies by province.


Do you need to get a work permit?

As an international student, you are allowed to work in Canada while you are studying, once you have secured your study permit which states that you are eligible to work on or off-campus . Working in these two settings means that students with a study permit are also allowed to work under a co-op program or placement, which of course is offered by a Designated Learning Institution.

In addition, students coming from abroad who have started their degree programs can work part-time, around 20 hours per week. Meanwhile, during summer break there is a chance of working full-time (40 hours/week). In order to work, students should have a co-op work permit, as well as a study permit.

There are many ways to work in Canada while studying:

1. On-campus work

You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. “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 attend classes.

An “on-campus” employer can be:

  • the school

  • a faculty member

  • a student organization

  • yourself, like if you run a business that is physically located on-campus

  • a private business

  • a private contractor that provides on-campus services to the school

It is possible to 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.

2. Off-Campus Work

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. It will be mentioned your study permit whether you are able  to during your studies. If you’re eligible for off-campus work, you don’t need a work permit.


Eligibility requirements 

  • 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

    • a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)

  • your study program

    • is at least 6 months long and

    • leads to a degree, diploma or certificate

  • you’ve started studying

  • you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which is a 9 digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. This is required to work in Canada. 

3. Co-op placements

A co-op placement or program involves working as part of your program of study. You may work on or off campus.

For example, you may be enrolled in a co-op degree program in environmental studies. This differs from the standard degree in environmental studies because it allows you to spend 3 or 4 months (or more) each year working in your field of study. It’s a great way to get hands-on professional experience in a Canadian work setting.

When you are part of a co-op program at a college or university, you can apply for a co-op work permit if:

  • You have a valid study permit.

  • Working is integrated into 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.

  • Your co-op or internship is 50% or less of the total program of study. 

You are not eligible for a co-op work permit if you are studying:

  • English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL)

  • General interest courses

  • Courses to prepare you for another study program

In the cases listed directly above, you need to get a valid work permit to work in Canada.

4. Internships

An internship provides you with on-the-job training. When you are an intern, someone in the workplace supervises you. By working as an intern, you gain knowledge and skills to help you succeed in a trade or profession.

The Canadian work permit you need for an internship is the same as the work permit for co-op students.

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