Study permits: Off-campus work

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Officers must continue to accept and process work permit applications submitted under the off-campus work permit Program (OCWPP) until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, May 31, 2014.

Eligibility requirements

As of June 1, 2014, R186(v) allows certain students to work off campus without work permit for up to 20 hours a week during a regular academic session and full time during regularly scheduled breaks, provided that:

  • they hold a valid study permit;
  • they are full-time students enrolled at a designated learning institution;
  • the program in which they are enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec;
  • the program of study is at least six month or more in duration and one that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate; and
  • they continue to fulfil the terms and conditions of their study permit, as well as the conditions to engage in off campus work (e.g., work no more than 20 hours a week during a regular academic session).


  • Six-month waiting period: There is no waiting period between when the study permit is issued and when the holder may begin working off campus.
  • Verification of eligibility by institutions: Institutions are no longer required to provide verification of the student’s eligibility to work off-campus.

Programs of study

For the purpose of off-campus work authorization, the following definitions apply:

  • Academic program: A post-secondary program that awards academic credentials to persons for whom the normal entrance requirement is high school completion. This program is often delivered at universities, colleges, seminaries and institutes of technology that award an academic degree, diploma or certificate.
  • Professional training: A type of training usually offered to a person who is already a professional in a given field. This type of training is usually recognized as meeting an official standard of an industry, association, or profession.
  • Vocational training: A preparation for a specific occupation in industry, agriculture or trade. This training generally includes technical, organizational and basic skills training. It may be offered through on-the-job programs, by unions in conjunction with businesses, by community colleges or universities in conjunction with a specific industry, and by private career colleges.

Ineligible programs of study

Students are ineligible if any of the following apply:

  • they are participating in one of the following:
    • they are a visiting or exchange student;
    • they are registered in a general interest program; or
    • they are registered in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program.

Note: Students who are enrolled in a degree program that includes an ESL/FSL component may be eligible to work off campus only once they have completed the ESL/FSL component.

Full-time status

Designated learning institutions set the number of hours/credits toward a degree, diploma or certificate that is required for a student to hold full-time status. Students must cease working off-campus as soon as their status changes (e.g., a student may begin an academic session on a full-time basis and become part-time during the same session as they drop courses).

One or two distance learning courses within an academic, vocational or professional training program are acceptable within the context of determining full-time status.

If the designated learning institution considers a student to have full-time status during the "work experience" portion of the program (for which a work permit under the co-op work permit program is required) and the student continues to comply with the eligibility requirements under the co-op work permit program, the student may be eligible to work off campus pursuant to R186(v).

Scheduled breaks

Students must hold full-time status during the academic session prior to, as well as subsequent to, their scheduled break. Each scheduled break should not be more than four months consecutively and students are not eligible to work full-time if the institution allows for back-to-back scheduled breaks. Essentially, taking into account reading breaks and the winter holiday, students may only work off campus on a full-time basis for no longer than five months during each calendar year (e.g., working full-time for four months consecutively during a scheduled break plus full-time during reading breaks that generally do not exceed one week at a time).

Conditions for work

Maximum working hours permitted

Students eligible to work under R186(v) can work up to 20 hours per week during their regular academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks (e.g., winter/summer holidays, reading week) and during the transition period to a post-graduation work permit (if applicable).

Students who are registered as full-time students during summer academic sessions (May to August) may only work up to 20 hours per week during that period.

Some intensive programs may not have scheduled breaks. Students participating in such programs may work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the entire program of study.

There are no legal restrictions preventing students from working on-campus in addition to working the maximum 20 hours per week off-campus.

If staff at a designated learning institution goes on strike, students holding an off-campus work permit may not work full-time.

Final academic session transition from off-campus work permits to post-graduation work permits

  • Students can apply for a post-graduation work permit during the 90-day transition period following the completion of their program of study (i.e., the date on which they receive a notification of completion) if they fulfil all of the requirements for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).
  • They can continue to work off campus provided that they hold a valid study permit and have applied for a work permit under the PGWPP.
  • They may be a part-time student if the course load required to complete their program of study during the final academic session is part-time.
  • Students must cease working if their work permit application under the PGWPP is refused.


Students who fail to comply with the terms and conditions of their study permits are considered non-compliant. Students who become ineligible and who do not cease working would be violating the conditions of their study permit. Non-compliance may also result in enforcement action taken by the Canada Border Services Agency, or invalidation of the study permit. It may also negatively affect future applications made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations.

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