Canada extending international student off-campus work hours policy until April 2024

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: December 8, 2023

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that they will be extending a policy that allows certain international students to work beyond the usual 20-hour-per-week limit imposed on off-campus employment outside of scheduled academic breaks.

In response to growing labour shortages across Canada, the country’s immigration department implemented a temporary policy in 2022, allowing certain international students to pursue full-time (40 hours per week) employment off-campus.

Before yesterday’s announcement, this temporary policy was set to expire on December 31 this year after being implemented on November 15, 2022. However, yesterday’s announcement has extended this temporary policy until April 30, 2024.

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Note: Prior to this new policy taking effect in late 2022, IRCC only allowed international students to work off-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school year. During scheduled academic breaks (reading week, winter break etc.), international students have always been allowed to work full-time under the IRCC’s current policy.

This means that, as articulated in yesterday’s announcement, “International students already in Canada, as well as applicants who have already submitted … [a study permit application] as of December 7, 2023, will be able to work off campus more than 20 hours per week until that time.”

More information on international student eligibility for this policy will be provided below.

What does this mean for eligible international students across Canada?

IRCC’s decision, while not making the policy permanent as many international students would have hoped, will still prove helpful to many international students across Canada.

This is because being able to work more hours allows international students to be less burdened from worrying about money. As articulated by one international student from Ecuador in a CBC story from November, being able to pursue full-time work “allows us to get more money and not have that financial burden, or worry so much about money."

Eligibility for IRCC’s work hours policy

Only certain international students are eligible to work beyond the usual limit imposed on off-campus employment. Specifically, to work more than 20 hours per week, an international student must:

  • Be taking in-person classes at their Canadian post-secondary institution (not online from abroad)*
  • Have off-campus work authorization included on their study permit

*Students who submitted a study permit application as of October 7 last year – the day IRCC initially announced this temporary policy in 2022 – have also been able to benefit from the removal of the restriction on off-campus work hours

Is IRCC considering any additional measures along these lines?

As part of yesterday’s announcement, IRCC has also noted that the immigration department “will continue to examine options for this policy in the future”. While nothing exact has thus far been actioned by IRCC, the pivotal announcement from yesterday did make specific mention of IRCC potentially “expanding off-campus work hours for international students to 30 hours per week while class is in session.”

This would represent another diversion from the usual limitations imposed on off-campus employment for international students, as foreign nationals pursuing their education in Canada are currently limited to 20 hours of off-campus work per week while they are attending classes.

Be sure to check back with CICNews for further updates on this and other crucial policy developments relevant to international students nationwide.

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