Foreign nationals need authorization from the Canadian government to work. For international students, work experience can help a great deal in being exposed to the Canadian job market, earning extra income and providing the advantage of being able to adapt to workplace language and culture.
Generally, foreign nationals with a study permit (i.e. international students) can work without a work permit in Canada if they are studying full-time at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and their study permit includes an endorsement authorizing work. Immigration officers will typically grant this authorization as a matter of course, but if a study permit does not include it, a revision may be necessary.
Most major universities and colleges in Canada will be considered DLIs, but a full list can be found here.
The authorization to work on a study permit typically allows one to work on campus for an unlimited number of hours or off campus for up to 20 hours during regular academic sessions (and fulltime off campus during regularly scheduled breaks between sessions). On campus work is not limited to jobs involving the school as the employer; it includes any jobs physically on campus,(such as a job as a barista at a Starbucks on campus grounds).
Sometimes programs of study include a work component such a co-op semester, unpaid internship for a period of time, or even a clinic where one spends a few hours getting practical experience in a particular field of study. In most cases, these activities will be considered “work.” While the endorsement on a study permit may sometimes be sufficient to allow you to engage in these placements (i.e. provided you meet the conditions set out above for on campus and off campus work), very often it will not be enough.
If your co-op placement is for an extended period of time and requires you to work more than 20 hours a week, or if you are a part time student with a co-op on campus, or a combination of your personal employment and school placement total more than 20 hours a week, you will need a special work permit called a co-op work permit. A co-op work permit can be obtained at no additional cost to a study permit and it may be useful even to students who expect to stay within the conditions of the study permit authorization to work as it provides maximum flexibility. certain schools may even require it for all instances of program-based work. It is important to check the school’s requirements so that one can apply for the appropriate authorization.
Co-op work permits are available to those who are enrolled in a program at a DLI that requires work as an essential component of the program as long as the work doesn’t comprise more than 50% of the overall program. A letter from the school confirming these details will be needed in order to get a co-op work permit. A co-op work permit can be issued at the time a study permit is issued or afterward.
This article should not be construed as legal advice, and each case ought to be reviewed on a case by case basis. If you would like assistance with applying for a study permit and a work permit, please contact experienced immigration lawyer, Maya Krishnaratne of Devry Smith Frank LLP at 416-446-5841 or email@example.com
“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”