International students in Canada enjoyed a temporary reprieve from the 20-hours per week off-campus work limit, but with the upcoming changes to the Work Permit Rules for Students that privilege is about to expire.
As of November 15, 2022, foreign students with valid study permits were allowed to work unlimited hours off-campus during scheduled school breaks and full-time hours during regular semesters. However, this flexibility ends on December 31, 2023, returning international students to the traditional 20-hour limit.
What the Change Means
Students who rely on off-campus work for income or career development need to be aware of the upcoming deadline.
As per the new work permit rules for international students starting January 1, 2024, exceeding the 20-hour limit without proper authorization could put their study permits and legal status in Canada at risk.
Eligibility for Unlimited Work Hours
While the unlimited work hour window is closing, certain students may still be eligible for extended work privileges under specific conditions:
1. Study Permit Applied on or Before October 7, 2022
For those with study permits applied on or before October 7, 2022, the following conditions must be met to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus:
- Hold a valid study permit.
- Study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) full-time (or part-time if in the final academic semester) with an expired study permit but maintained status.
- Approved for a study permit but haven’t arrived in Canada yet.
In addition, students must be in Canada or re-enter Canada by December 31, 2023, and have specific conditions on their study permits allowing extended off-campus work.
2. Study Permit Applied After October 7, 2022
For those applying to extend study permits that expire between November 15, 2022, and December 31, 2023, the following conditions apply:
- Have applied for the original study permit extension on or before October 7, 2022.
- Hold a valid study permit and study at a DLI full-time (or part-time if in the final academic semester).
- Be in Canada or re-enter Canada by December 31, 2023.
- Have specific conditions on the study permit allowing extended off-campus work.
- Must be in Canada or have re-entered Canada by December 31, 2023.
- Be a study permit holder.
- Be studying at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) full-time (or part-time if in the final academic semester).
- Have one of the following conditions printed on the study permit:
- “May work 20 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks.”
- “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria.”
Adherence to Conditions and Implications
Students and their employers must ensure compliance with these conditions before commencing off-campus work. Failure to meet eligibility criteria may result in students having to leave Canada.
- Students and employers must ensure eligibility before exceeding the 20-hour limit.
- Failure to comply with work permit rules could result in serious consequences, including study permit cancellation and potential deportation.
International students who will be impacted by the returning 20-hour limit are encouraged to explore alternative options for income generation or career development within the allowable timeframe. Consulting with immigration advisors or career counsellors can be beneficial in navigating these changes and securing future employment opportunities.