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Studying and working in Canada as an international student


The Canadian government is dedicated to providing a welcoming environment for international students, with a host of services and support structures designed to make their journey both rewarding and successful.

Working On and Off Campus While Studying

As an international student, you have the opportunity to work on or off campus. The eligibility criteria for both these options vary and it is important to familiarize yourself with the specifics. Generally, as a full-time student, you're not allowed to work more than 20 hours off-campus during the academic year. However, you can exceed the 20-hour-per-week cap if you're working on campus. Full-time off-campus work is only permissible during scheduled academic breaks, such as during the summer or winter holidays​1​.

Work as an International Co-op Student or Intern

For those interested in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, internships and co-op placements offer an invaluable opportunity. As an international student in Canada, you are eligible to work as a student intern only if work experience is required to complete your study programme. These opportunities not only provide the chance to expand your professional network and develop soft skills, but also significantly boost your odds of securing employment after graduation​1​.

Student Experiences

Consider the story of Jaimin, a third-year student from Kenya studying Biology and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. He benefited greatly from the resources available at the Career Centre and was able to gain valuable experience from the International Student Work Experience Program (ISWEP) at the university. His journey from attending resume and cover letter workshops to securing a job through ISWEP is a testament to the wealth of resources available to international students in Canada​2​.

Job Opportunities for International Students

As an international student working part-time, most jobs available will be entry-level positions. These include roles in retail and merchandising, front desk duties, and servers in food and beverage services. Other popular part-time jobs for international students in Canada are lab assistants or data entry positions, usually listed on the university's job portal. These roles often relate to faculty research, which can help build your resume for future careers in your field​1​.

Starting a Business in Canada

For entrepreneurial international students, Canada offers the opportunity to start your own venture while studying. However, this would require contacting Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for a modified study permit to get working status approved for off-campus work. Keep in mind, the limits to your working hours stipulated on your study permit still apply, even if you run your own business​1​.

Helping Your Spouse or Common-law Partner Work in Canada

Who can get a work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of a student?

Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit if you:

  • have a valid study permit

  • are eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) and

  • are a full-time student at one of these types of schools:

    • a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec

    • a private college-level school in Quebec

    • a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree)

Working in Canada After Graduation

Post-graduation, international students have the chance to work in Canada through the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This permit allows you to work as long as your years of study, up to a maximum of three years. Securing a permanent full-time job with the PGWP is often the first step towards getting permanent resident status in Canada​1​.

Canada offers a wealth of opportunities for international students to gain professional experience while pursuing their academic goals. With the right resources and guidance, it is possible to maximize your time in this country and secure a job in Canada. Stay informed, be proactive, and take full advantage of what Canada has to offer.

Studying and Working in Canada as an International Student is Easier Than You Thought

Studying and working in Canada as an international student and navigating the laws and regulations around employment can be daunting. It's important to ensure that you understand your rights and limitations in order to stay in compliance with Canadian law. Seeking guidance from Ansari Immigration can provide the clarity and assistance you need to navigate these challenges with confidence.

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