Work related to a research, educational or training program – exemption codes C31, C32 and C33 (International Mobility Program)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

A work permit may be issued under subparagraphs 205(c)(i), (i.1) and (i.2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) (labour market impact assessment [LMIA] exemption codes C31, C32 and C33) to foreign nationals who meet the eligibility requirements outlined below.

Research – exemption code C31 eligibility

Exemption code C31 (research) is intended for foreign nationals who are

  • coming to Canada to work temporarily for the International Development Research Centre of Canada;
  • sponsored by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. as distinguished scientists or post-doctoral fellows;
  • sponsored by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), or a department or agency that is associated with NRCan and participating in the Postdoctoral Research Program for distinguished scientists and scholars coming to participate in research for these departments and agencies as part of the Postdoctoral Research Program (departments and agencies that have joined NRCan’s Postdoctoral Research Program are responsible for issuing their own letters of offer to candidates); or
  • holders of research chair positions at a Canadian university, nominated for their research excellence and partially or wholly funded by federal or provincial governments.

Post-secondary co-op – exemption code C32 eligibility

Exemption code C32 (co-op for post-secondary international students) is intended for foreign nationals who intend to perform work that is an essential part of a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program offered by a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. The work cannot form more than 50% of the total program of study.

The acceptance letter provided by the DLI should clearly establish that the work is an essential part of the academic, vocational or professional training program that all participants enrolled in the program are required to complete in order to receive their degree, diploma or certificate. The most common example is undergraduate co-op programs at universities and colleges.

Outside Canada

Students who are outside of Canada can work while their study permit and co-op work permit are being processed. If their school and employer agree, they can either

  • accept a Canadian work placement and begin working remotely from their home country or
  • work for a company in their home country

Inside Canada

Students who are already in Canada and have applied for a co-op work permit may begin their co-op placement using their on-campus and off-campus work authorization, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements.

There is no limit on work hours for on-campus work. A student may accept employment on the campus of the university or college at which they are a full-time student under paragraph 186(f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

For off-campus work authorization, as per paragraph R186(v), students can work a total of 20 hours per week during an academic term or semester while they are waiting for their co-op work permit; however, the 20 hours must include both the hours worked at their co-op job and those worked at their regular paid job (if they have one). They can work full-time during the regularly scheduled breaks.

If the co-op work permit application is refused, they must stop their co-op work immediately.

Issuing a post-secondary co-op work permit (C32)

Note: All co-op work permits are open work permits.

Officers should code the unrestricted occupation open work permits in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) as per the following

  • Employer name: DLI
  • Location: unspecified or unknown
  • Fee exemption code: E02
  • Occupation: NOC 99999 (no other code should be used)

Conditions in GCMS to be entered by officers in Canada

Officers must enter both of the following conditions:

  • condition 18 (“must leave Canada by”)
  • condition 26 (“not valid for employment in businesses related to the sex trade, such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort services”)

If a medical examination has not been completed, the condition or conditions below must be imposed. The specific occupational sector restriction depends on whether the person has resided in a designated or non-designated country.

  • For people from non-designated countries, the following condition should appear on the work permit: “Not authorized to work in 1) child care, 2) primary or secondary school teaching, 3) health services field occupations” (condition 15).
  • For people from designated countries, the following conditions should appear on the work permit:
    • “Not authorized to work in 1) child care, 2) primary or secondary school teaching, 3) health services field occupations” (condition 15)
    • “Not authorized to work in agricultural occupations” (condition 16)

Do not select condition 21 “not authorized to work for any employer other than stated”.

Applicants whose work permit includes condition 21 are able to work for co-op participating employers. If this condition causes an issue to the DLI or employer, they may submit a request for a change to the conditions of their work permit to have this condition removed.

Officers must copy and paste the following remark into the user remarks field in GCMS: “Employment practicum cannot form more than 50% of the total program of study. Authorized to undertake employment which forms integral part of studies as certified by the institution”.

In cases where several work periods are necessary throughout the academic course (for example, 5 work terms and 8 study terms for a degree), the work permit should be valid for the same period as the study permit.

Note: This provision applies only to work that is required for a program offered by a Canadian institution. Exemption code C32 does not apply if the employment is a requirement of an academic, vocational or professional training program offered by a foreign institution.

Secondary school co-op – exemption code C33 eligibility

Exemption code C33 (co-op for international secondary school students) is intended for study permit holders who intend to perform work that is an essential part of a Canadian program at the secondary school level. This includes vocational training programs offered by a DLI in Quebec and programs that require students to work in order to obtain their secondary or high school diploma or certificate of graduation.

Note: For the purpose of subparagraphs R205(c)(i.1) and (i.2) (exemption codes C32 and C33), students are not eligible if they undertake any of the following:

  • general interest courses
  • preparatory courses
  • work-study programs offered by institutions that primarily offer English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) courses
  • business-type programs containing primarily ESL/FSL courses; officers may request more information regarding the curriculum directly from the school before finalizing the application

Applicants under exemption code C31, C32 or C33 are exempt from the work permit processing fee [R299(2)(e)] and the open work permit fee [R303.2(2)(a)].

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