How to Work While Studying in Canada

Working while you study in Canada can be incredibly rewarding, offering a chance to socialize and providing financial freedom. But what guidelines should you follow? Here, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration physicians talk about how to legally work in Canada while you are studying and what you should know about being employed as a student.

Working while you are in Canada studying can help you support yourself and form connections that can last a lifetime. The experience gained can also help with your job hunt once you are done with school. Here is some key information about how to legally work in Canada while you are studying.

Requirements for Working in Canada as a Student

If you are a full-time international student at a Designated Learning Institution and have a study permit, you will be able to work both on and off campus during your studies.

Working on campus will be working for any employer that is directly situated on the campus. This can include the institution itself, a member of the faculty, a student organization, a contractor or as a self-employed person.

Keep in mind that you will need to provide proof of finances when you apply for your student visa, meaning that you will need to prove that you are able to financially support yourself during your studies with or without a job.

If you are unsure if you are able to work during your stay, take a look at your study permit. It will offer a statement outlining the rules for your particular permit. You will need to apply for a social insurance number in order to work in Canada and this statement will allow you to do so.

Your study permit may not have this statement. If this is the case then you will need to have it amended. This will not cost you anything. This can be done at any time after your arrival but you should try and take care of it as soon as you arrive at the immigration office.

There are a few situations where you will not be allowed to work while studying. These are:

  • When enrolled in a program that will be completed in less than six months
  • If your program is English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • French as a Second Language (FSL) programs
  • You are a temporary visitor or exchange student

If you are between programs or terms, it will be important to remember that you cannot work until your program starts back up.

How to Find a Job as an International Student

Determining your eligibility and applying for your work permit is the easy part, now it's time to find a job. Luckily, employers in Canada are happy to hire students as part-time employees. 

Once you decide to start applying for jobs you will need to create or update your resume. This resume will highlight your experience, abilities and achievements. You should also create a personalized cover letter for each position that you apply for. 

There are a number of ways that you can begin looking for job postings. These include:

  • Libraries
  • Websites such as Indeed
  • Newspapers
  • Job Bank Website

You could also dress in business-appropriate clothing and walk around with your resume. If you spot any signs about hiring at a business that interests you then you can go in and ask to speak with the hiring manager.

Don't forget to make it clear that you are a student and that you will need to work around deadlines and testing or exam schedules.

Even though you are an international student, you will still have the same employment rights as any other worker in Canada. Always request a copy of your contract and ask for all pay stubs. These will help to protect you if you have any issues.

Getting Your Paycheque

Direct deposit is the most common method of payment for employees in Canada. In order to be paid using this method you will need to set up a bank account in Canada. Be sure you have this ready for when you start a new job so that your employer is able to pay you for your work.

Learn More About Banking Options

How to Get a Canadian Co-op Work Permit

Generally, working without a permit is allowed for international students. One exception is if your program requires you to complete a co-op or internship work placement in order to be able to graduate. In these cases, you will need to apply for a co-op work permit along with your study permit.

In order to obtain your co-op work permit you will need to provide a letter from the institution outlining the required internship and as well as a valid study permit. 

While you can obtain these at the same time, you are also able to apply even after you already have your study permit. Speak with your school if you need help with this process.

How to Get a Job in Canada on a Work Visa After Graduating

While Canada typically will require you to stop working immediately once you are no longer studying, you may be able to take steps that allow you to continue.

You may be able to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), allowing you to work anywhere in Canada. This can be used to work for any employer for up to three years after graduation. You will need to apply for this permit within 180 days of completing your studies.

If you choose to continue with your studies after you've completed your program, you may be able to continue working. This can happen if you:

  • were allowed to work off-campus while previously studying
  • Your study permit is still valid or has been extended
  • Can provide a letter of acceptance to a new program
  • You will begin your new program less than 150 days after completion of the previous program

If you choose not to pursue a PGWP then you then you may fall into one of the International Experience Canada (IEC) categories, which can allow you the opportunity to work in Canada for up to two years.

Having previous Canadian work experience along with a degree can put you ahead of the pack when it comes to applying for jobs in Canada.

Using Work Experience for Job and Permit Applications

If you have already finished school then you may wonder 'How can I go live in Canada for work?'. The answer to this question will depend on the type of permit you apply for. The different permits will have different eligibility requirements and not all will accept any previous work experience from when you were a student.

Looking to the Future

After you've graduated and gained all the necessary work experience in the time after completing your program you can start to think about whether or not you'd like to pursue permanent residency. When applying for residency you will have an entirely new set of guidelines to follow and eligibility requirements. These requirements can vary depending on the method of application. You can expect to show proof of a job offer and financial stability, as well as complete an immigration medical exam.

Does your program of study require an immigration medical exam or are you now completing the requirements for your permanent residency application? Please contact us at Immigration Physician Ottawa to learn more about how our services can help.


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