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Work In Canada as a Student: 101

Who Can Work?

You must have a remark on your study permit that authorizes you to work on- and off-campus. If your study permit doesn’t have this remark, you must request an amendment to your study permit, and then apply for a SIN from Service Canada before you can start working in Canada.

TIP: Check your study permit to ensure the remark authorizing you to work is there! You should have one of the following remarks or conditions:

  • May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies

  • May work 20 hrs off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR

  • May accept employment on or off-campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria

Are You Eligible To Work?

In order to be authorized to work during an academic term, you must be enrolled full-time. For undergraduate and non-thesis students, full-time means you are enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits. Masters and PhD Thesis students are continuously enrolled full-time in every academic term that they are registered for, regardless of the number of credits they are taking – that includes the Fall, Winter and Summer terms.

NOTE: Students taking part in a full-time Co-op Semester are considered full-time – regardless of how many credits the Co-op counts for on their transcript.

How Many Hours Can You Work?

Eligible students are authorized to work full-time or unlimited hours on-campus and up to a maximum of 20 hours per week off-campus during an academic term. As per Immigration Canada, there is no set number of hours per week that counts as ‘full-time’ for students working on-campus. Students working off-campus can only work a maximum of 20 hours in any given week (i.e., you cannot work 23 hours one week and 17 hours the next then average it out). You can, however, work both on and off-campus as long as you respect the 20 hour per week maximum for off-campus work.

What Jobs Can You Work In?

Check your study permit to see if there are any conditions or restrictions on the types of jobs or industries you can work in. If you did not have a medical exam by a panel physician when applying for your initial study permit, you may see a condition that prohibits you from working any jobs that bring you into close contact with people such as in the childcare, agriculture or healthcare industry. For a full list of jobs that require a medical exam, please see the Immigration Canada website.

The condition will look something like this:

  • Not authorized to work in childcare, primary/secondary school teaching, health field occupations.

If your study permit has this condition, you cannot work in those industries until the condition is removed. To do so, you must undergo a medical exam by a panel physician and apply to change the conditions of your study permit.

NOTE: Even if your study permit does not bear this condition but you intend to work in a job for which a medical exam would be required and you haven't had one, you must undergo a medical exam by a panel physician and obtain a new study permit before starting.

Part-Time Students

Students who are enrolled part-time* (i.e., students who are registered for less than 12 credits during an academic term), are not authorized to work. If you began the semester with 12 or more credits but end up reducing your course load to less than 12 credits at any point in the term due to course drop/withdrawal – you are no longer a full-time student for immigration purposes regardless of what it says on your transcript. If you worked before becoming part-time, you were authorized to do so. However, you are no longer authorized to work as of the date you are enrolled for less than 12 credits.
*Exception for final semester only. See below for details.

TIP: Check Minerva to confirm how many credits you are currently registered for to know if you are authorized to be working.

Working In Your Final Semester

Exceptionally, students who are enrolled part-time in their final semester before graduating and who have been continuously enrolled full-time in every other semester of their program are authorized to work. Students who do not meet this requirement can only work in their final semester if they are enrolled full-time.

NOTE: If you have taken a leave of absence, or if you have any gaps in your studies, this exception does not apply – you must be full-time in order to work in your final semester.

Working During a Scheduled Break In Your Program

In order to be authorized to work during a scheduled break in your program, you must be enrolled full-time in the term before and after the break. For example, if you are not enrolled for at least 12 credits in the Winter term, you would not be authorized to work during the following Summer Break. *Exceptionally, students may be authorized to work during the Summer Break if they are full-time in the preceding Winter term AND will be part-time in the Fall term because Fall is their final semester before graduation (see above - Working in Your Final Semester).

TIP: Depending on your program, a summer semester may not be considered a regularly scheduled break. If you are unsure whether or not you have a regularly scheduled break in the summer, contact your department/faculty.



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