Immigration Canada has published clarifications regarding the off-campus work program for study permit holders in Canada. International students may work off campus without a work permit as per section R186(v) of the Immigration Regulations They can work part time (up to 20 hours a week) during a regular academic session and full time during regularly scheduled breaks between academic sessions.
International students can work off campus without a permit, provided that all of the following statements are true:
• they hold a valid study permit
• they are full-time students enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI)
• the program in which they are enrolled is a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, or a vocational training program at the secondary level offered in Quebec
• the program of study is at least 6 months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
Note: The eligibility requirements for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) differ from off-campus work eligibility requirements.
• Academic program: A post-secondary program that awards academic credentials to persons for whom the normal entrance requirement is high school completion or higher. This program is often delivered at institutions that award an academic degree, diploma or certificate, such as any of the following:
◦ institutes of technology
• Professional training: A type of training usually offered to a person who is already a professional in a given field. Professional development is generally “accredited”; that is, it is recognized by an industry, association or profession. Professional training can be offered by learning institutions or professional associations, regulatory bodies or unions (for example, real estate appraisal, production and inventory control, food services management or specialty courses for lawyers, doctors, accountants, business administrators, engineers, dentists, teachers and counsellors).
• Vocational training: A preparation for a specific occupation in an industry or a trade that is generally “accredited”. It may be offered through on-the-job programs, by unions in conjunction with businesses or employers or by learning institutions in conjunction with a specific industry or employer. This training may include any of the following:
◦ technical training
◦ organizational training
◦ basic skills training
• Regularly scheduled break: To be considered a regularly scheduled break, the break must be part of the DLI’s academic calendar (for instance, winter and summer holidays, Reading Week). Each regularly scheduled break should not be longer than 150 days. The maximum cumulative duration of scheduled breaks is 180 days per calendar year.
• Off campus: Any location outside the boundaries of the campus of the educational institution at which the student is registered.
Ineligible programs of study
Students are not eligible for the off-campus work permit program if either of the following applies:
• they are registered in a general interest program of study that does not meet the definition of an academic, professional or vocational training program as defined above (for instance, ESL/FSL courses for self-improvement)
• they are undertaking a course or program of study that is a prerequisite to their enrolment at a DLI
Note: Students who are enrolled in a program of study that meets the definition of an academic, professional or vocational training program and who are undertaking the ESL/FSL component simultaneously may be eligible to work off campus pursuant to paragraph R186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
DLIs set the number of hours and credits toward a degree, diploma or certificate that are required for a student to hold full-time status. Officers will defer to DLIs on the determination of a student’s status. Students must stop working off campus as soon as their full-time status becomes part-time during a regular academic session (for instance, a student may begin a regular academic session on a full-time basis and become part-time during the same session as they drop courses). In this case, they are no longer authorized to undertake off-campus work.
If the DLI considers a co-op student with a co-op work permit to have full-time status during the “work experience” portion of their program, and if the student continues to comply with the eligibility requirements under the co-op work permit program, the student may be eligible to work off campus, pursuant to paragraph R186(v), on top of their co-op work hours.
Conditions for work
Maximum working hours permitted
Students eligible to work under paragraph R186(v) can do the following:
• work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions once they have commenced their program of study
• work full time during regularly scheduled breaks between academic sessions regardless of their course load
Students may not work until they have commenced their program of study. They must actually commence studies in Canada at a DLI before being eligible to work off campus.
Some intensive programs may not have regularly scheduled breaks. Students participating in such programs may work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the entire program of study.
Full-time students with a part-time course load in their final academic session
Students who have maintained full-time status for the duration of their program of study, and who only require a part-time course load in their final academic session in order to complete their program of study, may work off campus up to 20 hours per week during their final academic session.
Working on campus in addition to working off campus
There are no restrictions on the number of hours students can work on campus [as per R186(f)] in addition to working off campus, provided they continue to meet the applicable eligibility requirements.
Regularly scheduled breaks
In order to work off campus without a work permit under paragraph R186(v), students must hold full-time status during the academic session before and after their regularly scheduled break.
Maximum duration of a regularly scheduled break
If an institution allows for back-to-back scheduled breaks, thus creating a break period longer than 150 consecutive days, students are only eligible to work off campus during the first 150 consecutive days. They cannot work for the entire break if it is longer than 150 consecutive days. Taking into account all regularly scheduled breaks, students may only work off campus on a full-time basis for a total of 180 days during each calendar year.
Full-time or part-time course load during a regularly scheduled break
Students who are enrolled full time during the academic sessions before and after a regularly scheduled break and who decide to undertake a full-time or part-time course load during that regularly scheduled break are eligible to work off campus on a full-time basis. If a program of study does not provide for a regularly scheduled break and a student creates their own break in a program, it is considered a leave from studies, rather than a regularly scheduled break. Students who create their own break in a program are not eligible to work on or off campus during that break.
International students who are unable to fulfil their conditions as temporary residents due to circumstances entirely beyond their control (for instance, a school strike) during a regular academic session can, if they are eligible, still only work part time (up to 20 hours a week) off campus. In the event that a DLI goes on strike during a regularly scheduled break, international students who are eligible to work off campus may work full time only during the period that constitutes the regularly scheduled break.
Off-campus work and completion of a program of studies
Students who have not applied for a subsequent study or work permit or a program of study
Students may work off campus on a part-time basis if the following applies:
• they meet the eligibility criteria to work off campus [R186(v)]
• they have completed the final academic requirements for their program of study but have not yet received written confirmation of program completion from their institution (for instance, a transcript, an official letter or an email)
• they have not applied for a work permit (for instance, a post-graduation work permit or a work permit with a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment) or a study permit extension or enrolled in a subsequent program of study
They may work until the first date they receive written confirmation of program completion from their educational institution (for instance, an email, a letter, a transcript or a diploma), provided their study permit remains valid during this period. If the study permit becomes invalid [as per R222] before the student receives the notification of program completion from their institution, the student must cease working the day the study permit becomes invalid.
Once a student receives written confirmation of program completion from their institution, they are no longer authorized to continue to work in Canada, as they no longer meet the eligibility criteria in paragraph R186(v). They should apply to change their status or leave Canada before their study permit becomes invalid as per section R222.
Students who have completed a program of study and will be starting a new program of study within 150 days of receiving a written confirmation of program completion from their current institution
Students may work off campus on a full-time basis until the start of their new program if the following applies:
• they meet the eligibility criteria to work off campus [R186(v)]
• they have received written confirmation of program completion from their current institution (for instance, a transcript or an official letter)
• they have submitted an application to change conditions, extend their stay or remain in Canada as a student before their current study permit expired, or they still have a valid study permit
• they have been issued a letter of acceptance to a subsequent program of full-time study at a DLI and will be starting the new program within 150 calendar days of receiving a notification of program completion from their current institution
If the new program of study starts more than 150 calendar days after the first date they receive written confirmation of program completion from their current institution, the student is eligible to work off campus only during the first 150 consecutive days after the first date they receive written confirmation of program completion. They should then either apply to change their status (for instance, change it into visitor status) or leave Canada until their new program commences.
Students who have applied to extend their stay in Canada as a student are required to cease working if their study permit application is refused.
Reminder: When students transfer from one DLI to another, they must update their DLI number in their My Account immediately. When students transfer from one program of study to another at the same DLI, they are not required to notify Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Non-compliance with study permit conditions or the act of working without authorization may result in enforcement action. It may also negatively affect future applications made under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the IRPR. For example, a subsequent study permit or work permit may not be issued.
For more information about study and work permits, please feel free to contact our office. If you would like to know whether you could be eligible to immigrate to Canada, we invite you to complete our online assessment questionnaire: On-line Assessment Questionnaire.