Work off campus as an international student; Explained
Who can work off campus
You and your employer must make sure you can work off campus without a work permit before you start working. If you start working off campus but don’t meet the requirements, you may have to leave Canada.
You can only start working in Canada when your study program has started. You can’t work before you start your studies.
If you’re able to work during your studies, it’ll say so in the conditions on your study permit.
If you’re eligible for off-campus work, you don’t need a work permit.
You can work off campus without a work permit if you meet all of these requirements:
- you’re a full-time student at a designated learning institution (DLI)
- you’re enrolled in
- a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program or
- a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
- your study program
- is at least 6 months long and
- leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
- you’ve started studying
- you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
If you’re a part-time student at a DLI
You can work off campus only if:
- you meet all of the requirements above, except the requirement to be a full-time student,
- you’re only studying part-time, instead of full-time, because:
- you’re in the last semester of your study program and you don’t need a full course load to complete your program and
- you were a full-time student in your program in Canada, up until your last semester
If your study permit doesn’t have work conditions on it
You can ask to have these conditions added if you’re eligible to work off campus. There’s no fee to add these conditions to your permit.
You’ll need to request an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN from Service Canada.
How many hours you can work off campus
During regular school terms/semesters
You can work up to 20 hours per week. You can work more than 1 job to make up these hours as long as you continue to meet the conditions of your study permit.
During scheduled breaks in the school year
You can work full-time if you’re on a scheduled break, such as winter and summer holidays, or a fall or spring reading week. You’re free to work overtime or work 2 part-time jobs that add up to a higher than usual number of hours.
You must be a full-time student both before and after the break to work full-time.
You can’t work during a break that comes before you start your very first school semester.
How many hours count as full-time work
There is no set number of hours per week that counts as ‘full-time’ work. However, your employer(s) must follow all provincial laws on overtime pay and time between shifts.
If your program doesn’t have scheduled breaks
You can work up to 20 hours per week.
Working more than 20 hours per week is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status for doing this, and may not be approved for a study or work permit in the future. You may also have to leave the country.
How to calculate your hours
You’re responsible for both of the following:
- keeping track of the hours that you work off campus and
Hours are defined as any time you spend earning wages or collecting a commission, even if you’re on call during these hours and not actually working.
- proving that you’re complying with the conditions of your study permit
- actively pursuing your studies
- not working more than 20 hours per week
- meeting any other conditions listed on your study permit
To do this, you must show that you’re
If you’re a self-employed person, you’re also responsible for keeping track of the hours you work off campus and proving that you’re complying with the conditions of your study permit.
Hours are calculated as any time you spend doing any of the following:
- earning wages
- being paid wages for performing a service or selling a product
- collecting a commission for performing a service or selling a product
Who can’t work off campus
You can’t work off campus without a work permit if any of these situations apply to you:
- your study permit says you aren’t authorized to work off campus while you study
- you’re only enrolled in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program
- you’re only taking general interest courses
- you’re only taking courses required to be accepted into a full-time program
- your situation changes and you no longer meet all of the requirements to work off campus
If any of these situations apply to you, and you want to work while studying in Canada, you need to apply for a work permit.
If your study situation changes
If you weren’t eligible to work off campus, but your study situation has now changed, you may be able to change the conditions of your study permit.
You can apply to change the conditions of your permit if:
- you’ve changed your study program to one that may allow 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”
- there is a condition on your study permit that may no longer apply
Changing the conditions on your study permit
You’ll need to apply for a new study permit from within Canada.
When you apply online, your personalized checklist will include the Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Student [IMM 5709]. On that form, check the box to Apply for a study permit for the first time or extend my study permit and fill out the rest of the required fields.
Include a letter with your application explaining why you need the condition removed from your study permit.
Working after you complete your study program
After you complete your study program, there are 2 ways you may be able to work full-time:
- you already applied for a work permit before your study permit expired or
- you’re starting a new study program
You need to meet all the requirements listed below to work full-time. If we refuse your work or study permit application, you must stop working and leave Canada.
If you already applied for a work permit
You can work full-time if you meet all of these requirements:
- You were already able to work off campus during your studies
- You applied for a work permit or post-graduation work permit (PGWP) before your study permit expired
- You’re waiting for a decision on your work permit application
If you’re starting a new study program
You can work full-time if you meet all of these requirements:
- You were already able to work off campus during your previous studies
- You have a valid study permit or you applied to extend your study permit before it expired
- You received written confirmation from your current school that you completed your program
- You received a letter of acceptance to a new full-time study program at a DLI
- You’ll start your new program within 150 calendar days of receiving the confirmation that you completed your previous program
Working outside Canada
You can work remotely for an employer outside Canada as long as you still meet the conditions of your study permit. This type of work doesn’t count towards your 20 hours per week off-campus work limit.