Work off campus as an international student 

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Who can work off-campus

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

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 work as an international student in Canada if your study permit lists a condition that says you’re allowed to work on- or off-campus.

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

  • you have a valid study permit that includes a condition that says you can work off-campus
  • you’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • you’re enrolled in a
  • you’ve started studying
  • your study program
    • is at least 6 months long, and
    • leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

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
  • you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester
  • you don’t need a full course load to complete your program

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

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that the Government of Canada gives you. You need it 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 you’re eligible to work off-campus, but we didn’t include either of these conditions on your study permit, you can ask to have them added. 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 can you work off-campus?

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

During regular school semesters:

  • you can work up to 20 hours

During scheduled breaks in your school year, like during winter and summer holidays:

  • you can work full-time
  • you can’t work during a break that comes before you start your very first school semester

If your program doesn’t have scheduled academic breaks, you can’t work more than 20 hours per week.

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 changed

If you weren’t eligible to work off-campus but now your study situation 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

You must apply to change the conditions of your study permit. There is a fee to make this change. You must do this before you can apply for a SIN. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a new study permit from within Canada. Include a letter explaining why you need the condition removed from your study permit with your application.

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
  • 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.

You already applied for a work permit

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

  • were already able to work off-campus during your studies
  • applied for a work permit or post-graduation work permit before your study permit expired
  • are waiting for a decision on your work permit application

You’re starting a new study program

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

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