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.

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