15 Free Important Things to Know to Study and Work in Canada

1) Working while Studying in Canada

Many International Students want to work while studying in Canada to help cover some expenses and/or to gain valuable work experience and build their Resumes. 

You will need to be enrolled in a full-time Post-Secondary Study Program at a Designated Learning Institution (or DLI).

While you are studying in Canada, you can work part-time while you study, up to 20 hours per week during each study term, and full-time during vacations and official school breaks.

If the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from your Post-Secondary Designated Learning Institution indicates that Work Experience (such as a Co-op or Internship) is part of your Study Program, you may be able to work more than 20 hours per week during each term, in which case you may be issued a Study Permit and a Work Permit.

In any case, these documents will define if you are allowed to work off- or on-campus and for how many hours per week.

Become a Clearport Study-Work Concierge Member and we will help you in every step, from choosing your program to preparing and submitting your School and Study Permit applications.

2) Why Study in Canada?

Canada is among the Top-3 Education destinations in the World for International Students, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).  Per the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), 530,540 International Students attended School in Canada even during COVID-19, in the 2020 school year. According to Statistics Canada, International students accounted for all of the growth in Post-Secondary enrolments in 2018/2019, and International Student enrolments in formal programs in Canada more than tripled over a 10-year period.

There is great demand to study in Canada!

The top 3 reasons why International Students choose Canada are:

1. Canada’s quality of life and quality of education
2. Its reputation as a safe country
3. Its tolerant, non-discriminatory society

Other advantages of Studying College or University in Canada include that:

  • International Students can work part-time in Canada while they study a full-time accredited program at a designated Post-Secondary institution (DLI).
  • Upon graduating, most Post-Secondary International Students may also be eligible to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit, based on the length of their study program (for a minimum of 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years).
  • Canada offers great Employment opportunities for International Students that complete a Post-Secondary Program in Canada.
  • Canada offers more affordable Tuition and Cost of Living costs than the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries.

Why Canada to Study and Work

3) Tuition and Cost of Living in Canada

Tuition: Post-Secondary Tuition Costs in Canada are substantially more affordable than those in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, for example. In the case of Undergraduate Studies, Canada is almost 27% more affordable than the U.S., 40% more affordable than the U.K., and 4% more affordable than Australia. Canada’s advantage in affordability for Graduate Tuition Costs is even higher.

Table: Canada Tuition Cost Comparison vs USA-UK-Australia

Source: Clearport Team with 2019 tuition cost statistics from various countries

Tuition plus Cost of Living: When Cost of Living is added to Undergraduate Tuition, Canada ranks first in affordability vs. the top Study Destinations in the world. As shown in the table below, Canada is 16% more affordable than the U.S., 36% more affordable than the U.K., and almost 14% more affordable than Australia.

Table: Canada Tuition Plus Cost of Living Comparison vs USA-UK-Australia

Source: Clearport Team with 2019 Tuition and Cost of Living statistics from various countries

As a reminder, the Tuition figures above are averages, and there are many Study Programs in Canada that cost significantly less.

4) What Are the Conditions of a Canadian Study Permit?

Your Study Permit comes with certain conditions, which you must respect.

  • You must be enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), in a full-time Study Program with a duration of more than 6 months.
  • You must not take any leaves from your Study Program longer than 150 days, even if authorized by your School.
  • If your Study Permit allows you to work Part-Time, you must comply with the conditions stated in your Study Permit (i.e., where are you allowed to work, number of hours per week, etc.).
  • If you receive a Work Permit additionally to your Study Permit, you must comply with the conditions stated in both your Study Permit and your Work Permit.
  • You can only stay in Canada as long as permitted in your Visa and/or Study Permit, and if you want to continue to study in Canada for a longer time you must apply to renew or extend your Study Permit before it expires.

Working in Canada can help you to develop business contacts and to gain practical experience for the future. It can even help you immigrate to Canada after you graduate.

There are three ways to work in Canada while you complete your education:

  • On-campus work,
  • Off-campus work,
  • Co-Op placements or Internships (note that some Co-Op and Internship programs are unpaid).

Wages or salaries for work in Canada will depend on the skills required for your position and the employer. Minimum wage varies by province.

5) Where can I work while I Study in Canada?

You can Work On-Campus, Off-Campus, or work as a Co–Op Student or Intern.

As an International Student, you can work in Canada without a Work Permit if your Study Permit indicates as a condition that you are allowed to work On-Campus or Off-campus.

You can also work while you study in Canada if you have a Study Permit and a Work Permit, which applies for International Students enrolled in a Full-Time Study Program that includes a mandatory Co-Op Placement or Internship.

6) Working On-Campus While You Study

Who Can Work On-Campus?

You cannot work On-Campus before your studies begin, only when you start your Study Program in Canada (see information about this from the Government of Canada).

You can work on your School Campus without a Work Permit if you:

  • Are a Full-Time Post-Secondary Student:
    • at a public Post-Secondary school, such as a College or University (or a CEGEP in Quebec);
    • at a private College-level school in Quebec that operates under the same rules as public schools, and is at least 50% funded by Government Grants; OR
    • at a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under Provincial law;
  • Have a valid Study Permit, AND
  • Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Who Cannot Work On-Campus?

If and when any of the following happens, you are obligated to stop working On-Campus:

  • On the same day you stop studying full-time;
  • When your Study Permit expires;
  • At any time that you start an authorized leave from your studies, and while the leave is in place;
  • When you start the process of switching from one School or Study Program to another and while you are not studying.

You can go back to work Part-Time On-Campus only after you are back to studying, and only if you meet all the requirements to do so.

Where Can You Work On-Campus?

First, let us define what “On-Campus” means.

“On-Campus” includes all the buildings on your School Campus. In most cases, if your School has several Campuses, you can only work at the Campus at which you are studying.

You can only work at other locations while studying in Canada:

  • If you are working as a Teaching or Research Assistant; AND
  • If your work is strictly related to a Research Grant.

If this is your case, you may work at a Research Facility, a Library, or a Hospital associated with your School, even if they are outside the Campus you are studying at.

Who is an “On-Campus” Employer that You Can Work For?

An “On-Campus” employer can be:

  • Your School (University, College);
  • A Member of the Faculty;
  • A Student Organization;
  • Yourself, if you own a business that is physically located On-Campus (i.e., if you own a Restaurant, Coffee Shop, or any other legally incorporated and permitted business located On-Campus);
  • A Private Business;
  • A Private Contractor that provides On-Campus services to your University or College;

Do I Need a Social Insurance Number to Work On-Campus?

Yes, you do. Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9-digit number that is provided by the Government of Canada. With this number, you can work in Canada, get government benefits and services, and pay taxes on your wage or salary.

To apply for a Social Insurance number (SIN) to work On-Campus, one of the following two conditions must be printed on your Study Permit:

  1. “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria”.
  2. “This permit does not authorize the holder to engage in off campus employment in Canada. May accept employment only on campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria”.

If you are eligible to work On-Campus but your Study Permit does not include one of the two conditions above, you can ask to have them added, and there is no Government fee required. You will need to request and obtain an Amendment to your Study Permit before you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from the Government of Canada.

7) Working Off-Campus While You Study

Remember that you cannot work Off-Campus before your studies begin, only when you start your Study Program in Canada (see information about this from the Government of Canada).

Who Can Work Off-Campus?

If you are able to work Off-Campus during your studies, it will say so in the conditions on your Study Permit.

Important: note that if you start working Off-Campus without meeting all requirements, you may have to leave Canada. Before you start working, both you and your Employer must ensure that you can work Off-Campus without a Work Permit, and that you meet all requirements.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements to Work Off-Campus?

You can work Off-Campus without a Work Permit if you meet all of these Five Requirements:

  1. You are a Full-Time International Student at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI);
  2. You are enrolled in:
    • A Post-Secondary Academic, Vocational or Professional Training Program anywhere in Canada; or
    • A Secondary-Level Vocational Training Program in Quebec only;
  1. Your Study Program:
    • Is 6-months long or longer; and
    • Leads to a Degree, a Diploma, or a Certificate;
  1. You have already started studying in your Study Program; AND
  2. You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Working Off-Campus in Canada

If you are a Part-Time International Student, you can only work Off-Campus if:

  • You meet all of the requirements listed above; AND
  • You are only studying Part-Time instead of Full-Time because:
    • You are in the last Semester of your Study Program, and you do not need a full course load to complete it; and
    • You were a Full-Time student in your Study Program in Canada up until your last Semester.

If you are on an Authorized Leave, or if you are Switching Schools or Study Programs:

If you are on an Authorized Leave from your studies in Canada, or if you are switching your School or Study Program to another and you are not studying, you cannot work Off-Campus. You can return to work only after you are back studying and meeting all requirements.

Do I Need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to Work Off-Campus?

Yes, you do. This 9-digit number provided by the Government of Canada is needed to work Off-Campus. To obtain your SIN to work Off-Campus, one of these two conditions must be printed on your Study Permit:

  • “May work 20 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations”.
  • “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria”.

If you are eligible to work Off-Campus and your Study Permit does not have one of these two work conditions printed on it, you can request them to be added on it. There is no Government fee to do this. Remember, you will need to request an Amendment to your Study Permit before you can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) from the Government of Canada.

How Many Hours can you Work Off-Campus?

  • During regular school terms/semesters, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.
  • During scheduled breaks in the school year, like Winter and Summer Holidays, or during a Fall or Spring “reading week”, you are allowed to work Full-Time. During these periods, you can even work overtime or work 2 part-time jobs! You must be a Full-Time student both before and after the break to work Full-Time.

Remember that you can only work after you started studying in Canada (for example, the study break that happens immediately before you start your 1st school semester in Canada does not qualify as a break for you, because you have not started your Study Program).

How Many Hours Are Defined as Full-Time Work?

Each Province has its own set of rules and regulations around work. However. The Federal Government considers Overtime:

“any hours worked in excess of the standard hours specified in the Code or Regulations, in most cases 8 in a day or 40 in a week”.

Accordingly, your Employer must follow all Provincial Laws about Overtime pay and about time between shifts.

Who Cannot Work Off-Campus without a Work Permit?

You are not allowed to work Off-Campus without a Work Permit if any of the following apply to you:

  • Your Study Permit says you are not authorized to work Off-Campus while you study; or
  • You are only enrolled in an English or French as a Second Language Program (ESL or FSL, respectively); OR
  • You are only taking General Interest courses; OR
  • You are only taking courses required to be accepted into a Full-Time program; OR
  • Your situation changes and you do no longer meet all of the requirements to work Off-Campus.

If you are under any of these circumstance and you want to work Off-Campus while you study in Canada, you must apply to obtain a Work Permit.

Can I Work Off-Campus if My Study Situation Changes?

If you were not eligible to work Off-Campus but your study situation has changed, you may be able to change the conditions of your Study Permit. This will be the case if:

  • You have switched to a Study Program that allows you to work Off-Campus; AND
  • Your Study Permit says “This permit does not permit the holder to engage in off campus employment in Canada”

OR if

  • The Government included a condition on your Study Permit that may no longer apply to you.

For example, if you originally had a Study Permit to complete courses that are a pre-requisite to your Full-Time Study Program, such as an English as a Second Language (ESL) Pathway course, and -after completing this course-  you have been accepted into your Full-Time Study Program, you could apply to have the condition of not being allowed to work Off-Campus removed from your Study Permit.

If your study situation changes and you must apply to change the conditions of your Study Permit, the Government will charge a fee to make this change. And remember that you must change the conditions on your Study Permit before you can apply for a Social Insurance Number.

Changing the Conditions on your Study Permit

To change the Conditions of your Study Permit, you will need to apply for a new Study Permit within Canada (in other words, while you are still physically in Canada and your current Study Permit is still valid).

This application can be done online. You will need a personalized document checklist, which will include the form “Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Student”. You will also need to include a letter with your application, explaining why you need the condition of not being allowed to work Off-Campus removed from your Study Permit.

8) Can International Students do Co-Op or Intern Work While Studying in Canada?

Some Study Programs in Canada include mandatory or optional Co-Op work or Internships as part of their curriculum, so that Students can gain some work experience related to the Study Program while they study. Information on this is available online through the Government of Canada.

Gain Work Experience While You Study in Canada

Eligibility

You can apply for a Co-Op or Intern Work Permit if all of these apply to you:

  • You have a valid Study Permit;
  • Work is required to complete your Study Program in Canada;
  • You have a Letter from your School that confirms that all Students in your Study Program must complete work placements to get the degree that the program grants; AND
  • Your Co-Op placement or Internship equals 50% or less of your Study Program.

Co-Op or Internship Placements During COVID-19

While COVID-19 restrictions apply, many International Students are studying online from their countries of origin or residence. If your School and your Employer agree, you can:

  • Accept a Canadian Co-Op or Internship placement and begin working remotely from your country of origin or residence; OR
  • Work for a company in your country of origin or residence.

You must get written agreement to the above from both your School and your Employer. In either case, if you are working remotely from outside Canada, you can do so while the Government of Canada processes your Study Permit and Co-Op Work Permit applications.

Who Is Not Eligible to do Co-Op or Intern Work?

You do not qualify and are not eligible for a Co-Op Work Permit if you are taking any of the following:

  • English or French as a second language (ESL or FSL, respectively);
  • General interest courses; OR
  • Courses to prepare for another Study Program (for example, English Pathway Courses).

9) Can I Bring My Family With Me While I Study?

If you have a spouse (you are married or live in a common-law union), you may want to bring your spouse with you when you come to study in Canada. If you have children, you and your spouse may want to bring them with you.

International Student Spouse and Children

This must be clearly indicated in your Study Permit Application, and the Visa Officers will take it into consideration.  Remember, if you apply to bring your spouse and/or children with you, you will need to provide Proof of Funds demonstrating that you have enough funds available to cover not only your personal living expenses, but also those of the family members that come along with you to Canada. 

You can see here the amount of funds required by the Government of Canada by number of family members.

10) Can My Spouse Work in Canada While I Study?

If your Study Permit Application includes your spouse and children, and if it is approved, your spouse will receive an Open Work Permit to work Full-Time in Canada, and -depending on their age- your children will receive Study Permits to study Grade School.

You can book an Immigration Consultation with our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants to learn more.

11) Am I Covered by Canada’s Health Care System While Studying In Canada?

All International Students in Canada must have Health Insurance in Canada (by an Insurer in Canada), which is provided by Health Insurance Plans obtained through your school of choice in Canada.  This Health Insurance is usually paid when you pay your Tuition Fees.

International Students in Canada Must Have Canadian Health Insurance

12) Can I Stay in Canada After I Graduate?

Yes. You can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you graduate, and you must do it immediately after graduating. A PGWP will allow you to stay in Canada and work for a length of time equal to the length of the Study Program you graduated from (with a limit of 3 years).

13) Can I Apply for Permanent Residence if I Graduated from a Canadian College or University?

Yes. After working in Canada under a Post-Graduation Work Permit for a minimum of 1 year (or equivalent number of hours), you can apply for Permanent Residence in Canada.

14) Who Can Help Me With The Whole Study Application Process?

We can. Since 2008, we help International Students to come to study in Canada, from Grade School to English as a Second Language, College, University, and Post-Graduate studies.

Post-Secondary Schools in Canada offer great programs that are recognized worldwide, ranging from Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas or Certificates, to full Bachelor degrees, Master degrees and PhDs. They also provide strong support for International Students.

You will broaden your horizons with a true international experience and make new friends from Canada and all over the world. And the best part is that you will have lots of fun! We can help make this lifetime experience come true.

Click on the Image to Become a Clearport Student Member

Click on the image above to become a Clearport Student Member and Study & Work in Canada

Our Two types of Memberships give you the level of service and value that you want as an International Student:

Basic Student Membership:

This is an economical Self-Service option that gives you access to our world-class online tools to choose the right school and apply to it; it also gives you access to SRT, our English Assessment and Improvement tool, to assess if your English level meets school requirements, and to improve it with a free Personalized Learning Plan without additional cost.

Our Basic Student Membership is great value, saving you time and money vs the months it can take you to do all the school research and prepare a school application on your own.

Student Concierge Membership:

Our Student Concierge Membership gives you Convenience and all the Peace of Mind you and your family need. With our Student Concierge Membership, you get access to our fully personalized service, including one-on-one calls with our Education Consultants and step-by-step assistance in: School and Study Program research, review, and selection, including costs and requirements; School & Visa application processes; Housing arrangements; Budget preparation; and more, even 24/7 emergency support while studying in Canada.

Our Student Concierge Membership also gives you access to SRT, our English Assessment & Improvement tool to meet the English level required by your school of choice.

Click below to watch a short video and learn more about our Student Mobility Services to study in Canada!

15) Who Can Help Me With the Study Visa / Permit and Work Permit Process?

We can help you. If you are unsure whether applying to Study or to Work in Canada, or want to have specific Immigration information and assistance to Study and Work in Canada, our In-House Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can explain the requirements and take you through the process of applying for a Study Permit that allows you to work while you Study. Booking an Immigration Consultation can help define your situation and best strategy.

Book an Immigration Consultation with us, and our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants will guide you with qualified, professional Immigration Advise.

Click on the Image to Book an Immigration Consultation With Us

Click on the image above to Book an Immigration Consultation

An Immigration Consultation can save you time and money by providing the professional guidance you require from a well-prepared, certified Team of ICCRC-regulated consultants.

Please beware of advice from “immigration consultants” that are not regulated or in good standing. Only a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant in good standing with the ICCRC can offer consultancy services for applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Verify Status with ICCRC: link to ICCRC site

Rui Jiang, RCIC # R530523

Dongkai Li, RCIC # R522600

We are Your Door to Canada!



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