Working during your studies in Canada can be a great way for international students to gain experience, make connections, and earn extra money to pay the bills (or treat yourself to something special!). However, there are some restrictions on who can work while studying in Canada and what types of work they can do. Here’s what you need to know before you start your job search. 

In this article:

Who can work while studying in Canada

It’s important to make sure you qualify to work while studying in Canada before starting a job because, if you do so without qualifying, you could be asked to leave Canada. Your study permit will include information about whether you’re able to work on- or off-campus.

International students can work on-campus without a work permit if they meet all of these requirements. (Note that you must stop working on campus the exact day your full-time study ends.)

  • You are a full-time post-secondary student at either
    • a public post-secondary school, 
    • a private college-level school in Quebec that’s at least 50 per cent funded by government grants, 
    • or a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law.
  • You have a valid study permit.
  • You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

International students can work off-campus without a work permit if they meet all the following requirements. (Note that you can only start work in Canada once your study program officially begins.)

  • You’re a full-time student at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • You’re enrolled in either a post-secondary professional, vocational, or professional training program or a secondary-level vocational training program (Quebec only)
  • You’re in a study program that’s at least six months long and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate
  • You’ve already started studying
  • You have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

If you’re a part-time student, you must meet all of the above requirements and only be studying part-time because you’re in the last semester of your program and don’t need a full course load to complete it. 

Types of work permitted

On-campus work

On-campus work means any jobs located in the buildings on your school campus. If your school has more than one campus, you can normally only work on the campus you study at. You can, however, work at other locations if you’re a teaching or research assistant, or if your work is related to a research grant. An on-campus employer can be your school, a faculty member, a student organization, a private contractor that provides on-site services, or even yourself if you run a business that’s physically located on campus. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work on campus. You can learn more about working on-campus here

Off-campus work

If you meet all of the requirements for off-campus work, you may work up to 20 hours a week during regular school terms/semesters. During school breaks, such as winter or summer holidays, you’re free to work overtime or take two part-time jobs that add up to a higher than usual number of hours. Note you have to be a full-time student both before and after a break to qualify. This means the summer breaks before and after your study term are not included. You can find more information about off-campus work here.  

Internships and co-op placements

Some study programs include work experience as part of their curriculum. If this applies to your program, you can apply for a co-op or intern work permit as long as you meet these requirements:

  • You have a valid study permit
  • Work is required to complete your program of study in Canada
  • You have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to earn their degree
  • Your co-op or internship makes up less than 50 per cent or less of your study program

During COVID, the Canadian government has made some exceptions for remote co-ops and internships. You can learn more about these here.

Tips for working while studying in Canada

  • Plan your schedule well. Between work and school, it can be easy to overcommit yourself– especially in your first year of study. It may be best to give yourself some time to adjust to your new schedule before seeking out additional work.
  • Look for opportunities aligned with your field of study or ones that allow you to develop new skills (such as improving your English or French!). Jobs can have more benefits than just making money. Take this opportunity to learn outside the classroom and even make some valuable connections in your field. 
  • Consider future employment prospects with your employer. Canadian companies often offer full-time jobs to former interns or employees they’ve already worked with on a part-time basis. Use your co-op or part-time gig as a chance to get your foot in the door.
  • Network in the workplace and ask your manager to give you a referral on LinkedIn to show future employers you’re a valuable asset to their team. In Canada, many positions are filled through recruiters networks, so building your network will be key to hearing about job opportunities. Take this opportunity to meet others in your field. Even if they don’t end up hiring you down the road, they may know someone else looking to fill a position. 
  • Be proactive. Don’t be afraid to ask your manager for additional opportunities or express your interest in working on a particular project. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
  • Ask for help when you need it. Canadian companies tend to be very team-oriented and encourage employees to ask for help when they need it. Asking a colleague or manager for help can be a learning and networking opportunity.

 

Working while studying in Canada is a great way to make the most of your study permit. Finding the right job, internship, or co-op placement gives you an opportunity to learn new skills, make valuable connections, and further define your future career goals. Get access to more career resources and tips for international students by downloading the Arrive app

 

To get to know more about Canadian culture, the Arrive mobile app is a good starting point. The Arrive app can ease your transition and help you adapt faster life to Canada. It is specially designed to provide newcomers, like yourself, with information that matters, at a time when you need it the most. The best part: you’ll always have all resources in one place – in an app on your phone – and you can access it wherever you are, without having to provide any confirmation from the Canadian government. Whether you’re a year away from your move or recently landed, if you’re a PR, international student or temporary foreign worker, the Arrive app will provide timely and relevant content, tools and guidance to ensure you’re fully prepared for your move and your life in Canada. 

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About Arrive

Arrive is powered by RBC Ventures Inc, a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. In collaboration with RBC, Arrive is dedicated to helping newcomers achieve their life, career, and financial goals in Canada. An important part of establishing your financial life in Canada is finding the right partner to invest in your financial success. RBC is the largest bank in Canada* and here to be your partner in all of your financial needs. RBC supports Arrive, and with a 150-year commitment to newcomer success in Canada, RBC goes the extra mile in support and funding to ensure that the Arrive newcomer platform is FREE to all. Working with RBC, Arrive can help you get your financial life in Canada started – right now. Learn about your banking options in Canada and be prepared. Click here to book an appointment with an advisor.

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Disclaimer:
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.