Frequently asked questions about summer jobs for international students in Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: June 6, 2024

International students remaining in Canada for the summer may have some questions about finding employment while they wait for the fall semester.

International students are only allowed to work in Canada, without a separate work permit, if they have work authorization on their study permit. This work authorization will indicate if the study permit holder is permitted to work on campus, off campus, or both.

Note: International students without work authorization are not permitted to work in Canada.

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What is Canada’s policy for work hours as an international student?

International students should start their job search by understanding the work hours policy implemented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changes. These changes are dependent on the time of year.

More specifically, it is important to know that the summer months are typically considered a “scheduled break” in the academic calendar unless an international student chooses to (or must) take classes over this period.

The reason this distinction is important is because IRCC allows international students to work 40 hours or more per week during scheduled academic breaks. As of right now, the policy is back to 20 hrs a week and it goes to 24 hrs in the fall.

IRCC’s new 24-hours-per-week policy will replace the temporary policy enacted in October 2022, which allowed international students with an off-campus work authorization to work more than 20 hours per week while classes were ongoing. IRCC’s temporary policy came to an end on April 30, 2024.

Note: According to IRCC, this summer, before the new policy takes effect, students on a scheduled academic break can continue working unlimited hours.

Accordingly, international students are often keen on gaining an understanding of how summer employment works in Canada, so that they may capitalize on this time to earn money to support themselves.

What types of work can I do?

As long as they meet the eligibility requirements for working on or off campus (more details to follow below), international students can pursue any type of employment during the summer.

For ideas on what jobs to pursue as an international student, click here for some of the top jobs for international students in Canada last year.

Do I need a work permit?

No. Instead, to be eligible for on-campus work without a work permit, international students must:

  • Have a valid study permit or maintained status
  • Have started their studies*
  • Have work authorization on their study permit
  • Be a full-time post-secondary student at an eligible institution
  • Have a social insurance number (SIN)

Click here for more information from IRCC about working on campus as an international student, including where international students can work on campus and who they can work for, as well as conditions related to when international students must stop working on campus.

Meanwhile, international students looking to work off campus without a work permit must meet the following conditions to be eligible:

  • Be a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • Be enrolled in a qualifying** study program that is at least 6 months long and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • Have started their studies*
  • Have a SIN

*According to IRCC policy, international students can only start working in Canada when their study program has started. This means they cannot work before they start their studies.

**To be eligible, international students must be enrolled in either a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program or a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)

Note: Part-time students are eligible for off-campus work under specific conditions. For more information on working off campus as an international student, visit this IRCC webpage.

What documents do I need to work in Canada?

Typically, international students will need many of the same documents as any other job applicants in Canada, with some exceptions.

Beyond resumes and cover letters, which are two important components of the job searching process for international students. They may need to show proof of their work authorization to verify that they are legally allowed to work in Canada as part of their job interview or onboarding process.

Visit this dedicated webpage to learn more about crafting a Canadian-style resume.

What is a SIN and how do I get one?

Most importantly, however, is that international students remember they require a SIN to work in Canada.

SINs are individual, unique nine-digit numbers provided to eligible Canadians, permanent residents and temporary residents. While this is not a “document” in the same way that a resume is, all workers in Canada require a SIN to secure employment.

Visit this Government of Canada webpage to learn more about applying for a SIN.

What if I face challenges at work?

International students, just like any other foreign national in Canada, have the same rights as Canadian-born workers as it relates to fair and just treatment in the workplace.

Specifically, there is legislation in place from the Canadian government, including the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Equity Act, that outlines the rights provided to foreign workers in this country.

These rights include:

  • Being compensated for their work
  • Having a safe workplace
  • Being able to keep their passport and work permit

Click here for a dedicated webpage outlining foreign workers’ rights in Canada.

Also, visit this link to get a better understanding of your employer’s obligations as it relates to workplace health and safety, maintaining a workplace free of abuse and Canadian employers’ duty to accommodate.

The more informed you are as a foreign national, including as an international student, the better you will be able to prepare for work in Canada.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information on summer employment as an international student in Canada, visit any available online resources, including the following webpages:

Additionally, your post-secondary institution will have an office you can visit and resources you can access to learn more about working as an international student. Contact your university or college as early as possible to learn more in time to secure employment this summer.

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