Earn While You Learn: International Students Work in Canada from Arrival through Post-Graduation

By:Kathleen Legris

International students are permitted to work in Canada from the point of arrival through post-graduation. In most cases, students will need to apply for a Work Permit to participate in a co-op/internship placement, work off campus, or apply for jobs after graduation. A Work Permit is not required for on-campus employment.

Working On Campus
International students do not need to apply for or hold a Work Permit in order to work on campus. Students may work on campus immediately upon arrival in Canada if they are:

* Enrolled full-time in a designated post-secondary; and
* Have a valid study permit.

Working Off Campus
The Off-Campus Work Permit Program allows certain international students to work off campus while completing their studies. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a participating post-secondary educational institution and meet the guidelines set out by that institution. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) publishes a complete list of eligible institutions, by province on their website.

Students are not eligible to apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit immediately upon arrival in Canada. Instead, they must have been enrolled full-time at least 6 of the previous 12 months and meet the academic requirements set out by their university or college to be eligible.

Co-op and Internship Programs
For some academic programs, work experience is part of the curriculum. In these cases, an open Work Permit can be issued with the institution listed as the employer. If several work periods are required throughout the program, the Work Permit can be issued for the same period as the Study Permit.

International students, scholars, and scientists may also obtain Work Permits for work related to a research, educational or training program.

Post-Graduation Employment Program
The Post-Graduate Employment Program is designed to provide graduating students with Canadian work experience. Students may work in Canada for up to three years after graduation. The duration of the permit is based upon the length of study in Canada. Students who have completed less than 8 months of study are not eligible.

An application guide and forms to apply for an Off-Campus Work Permit, Co-op Work Permit, and Post Graduate Employment can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. International Student Advisors in university Student Services offices can also provide advice and information on these processes.


  1. 6. Just because one is a student doesn’t mean that one cannot possibly hope for a job that coincides with one’s course. I myself am still a student and I’m earning more than the regular wages per month. One of the things students have to realize is that nothing is impossible. And that there are opportunities everywhere. It might not come knocking on their doors so they would have to seek them out themselves!

  2. There are definitive advantages to being able to work while you study internationally. The income can help supplement other sources of funds, and can provide living and travel expenses. The experience you will gain is invaluable, and will help you to get the most out of your time abroad. You will learn to use your English skills in a different setting. You may find a job related to your future career, which will give you a significant advantage when applying for jobs after graduation. And regardless of the type of work, employers want employees who have worked, not just studied.

  3. can I please get the official details for this information. I am an international student in Canada, and my school officials are unaware of the rule and are asking me not to start work till the first day of the first class.

    (PS - In Canada, registered for the first semester, but have not attended any class yet since it would be my first semester)

  4. :) hope u get the job
    I am coming to Canada in few month
    Please share your experience with me
    Mail me at kangfu88@gmail.com


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