Work off campus as an international student 

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Who can work off campus

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.

You can only start working in Canada when your study program has started. You can’t work before you start your studies.

If you’re able to work during your studies, it’ll say so in the conditions on your study permit.

Eligibility requirements

You can work off campus without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:

If you’re a part-time student

You can work off campus only if:

  • you meet all of the requirements above and 
  • you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:
    • you’re in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete your program and
    • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester

If you’re on an authorized leave

If you’re on an authorized leave from your studies, or you’re switching schools and you’re not studying, you can’t work off campus. You can only return to work once you’re back to studying.

Get a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada

A SIN is a 9 digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. You need one to work in Canada.
To apply for a SIN to work off campus, you must have 1 of these conditions printed on your study permit:

  • May work 20 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
  • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.

If your study permit doesn’t have work conditions on it

You can ask to have these conditions added if you’re eligible to work off campus. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your permit.

You’ll need to request an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN from Service Canada.

How many hours you can work off campus

During regular school terms/semesters

You can work up to 20 hours per week.

During scheduled breaks in the school year

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.

How many hours count as full-time work

There is no set number of hours per week that counts as ‘full-time’ work. However, your employer(s) must follow all provincial laws on overtime pay and time between shifts.

If your program doesn’t have scheduled breaks

You can work up to 20 hours per week.

Working more than 20 hours per week is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status for doing this, and may not be approved for a study or work permit in the future. You may also have to leave the country.

Who can’t work off campus

You can’t work off campus without a work permit if any of these situations apply to you:

  • your study permit says you aren’t authorized to work off campus while you study
  • you’re only enrolled in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program
  • you’re only taking general interest courses
  • you’re only taking courses required to be accepted into a full-time program
  • your situation changes and you no longer meet all of the requirements to work off campus

If any of these situations apply to you, and you want to work while studying in Canada, you need to apply for a work permit.

If your study situation changes

If you weren’t eligible to work off campus, but your study situation has now changed, you may be able to change the conditions of your study permit.

You can apply to change the conditions of your permit if:

  • you’ve changed your study program to one that may allow you to work off campus and 
  • your study permit says “This permit does not permit the holder to engage in off campus employment in Canada”

OR

  • we included a condition on your study permit that may no longer apply

Example: You have a study permit to complete prerequisite courses, such as an ESL or FSL course. You’re then accepted into a full-time study program. This would mean you could apply to have the condition (not being allowed to work off campus) removed from your study permit.

You must apply to change the conditions of your study permit. There’s a fee to make this change. You must change the conditions on your permit before you can apply for a SIN.

Changing the conditions on your study permit

You’ll need to apply for a new study permit from within Canada.

When you apply online, your personalized checklist will include the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Student [IMM 5709]. On that form, check the box to Apply for a study permit for the first time or extend my study permit and fill out the rest of the required fields.

Include a letter with your application explaining why you need the condition removed from your study permit.

Working after you complete your study program

After you complete your study program, there are 2 ways you may be able to work full-time:

  • you already applied for a work permit before your study permit expired or
  • you’re starting a new study program

You need to meet all the requirements listed below to work full-time. If we refuse your work or study permit application, you must stop working and leave Canada.

If you already applied for a work permit

You can work full-time if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You were already able to work off campus during your studies
  • You applied for a work permit or post-graduation work permit (PGWP) before your study permit expired
  • You’re waiting for a decision on your work permit application

If you’re starting a new study program

You can work full-time if you meet all of these requirements:

  • You were already able to work off campus during your previous studies
  • You have a valid study permit or you applied to extend your study permit before it expired
  • You received written confirmation from your current school that you completed your program
  • You received a letter of acceptance to a new full-time study program at a DLI
  • You’ll start your new program within 150 calendar days of receiving the confirmation that you completed your previous program
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