Working in Canada

Working in Canada During Your Studies

As an international student, if you plan to work while you study, you do not need to apply for a work permit to work in Canada.

However, it is crucial to inform the immigration officer at Canada's border of your intent to work while you study so that they can mark your study permit with "May accept employment" or "May work."

International students may work in Canada while studying, depending on their registration status and employment location. International students cannot work before their studies begin.

If you are eligible to work during your studies, Canada's immigration regulations permit three types of employment for international students:

Working on Campus
International students with valid study permits containing the remarks "May accept employment" or "May work," who are enrolled full-time, are permitted to work, without a work permit, at any employment facility located within the boundary of the University of Alberta's North campus, and at other Edmonton U of A campuses, including Enterprise Square, Campus Saint-Jean, and South Campus.

There is no maximum number of hours you can work when it comes to on-campus work, but the hours must follow provincial labour standards.

Important!

If your student status changes to part-time, you must stop working immediately. If you have a part-time registration status during your final term of study, you continue to be eligible to work.

Please note: If you work as a teaching or research assistant, and your work is strictly related to a research grant, you can work on or off-campus at a library, hospital, or research facility associated with the University of Alberta.

ESL, Exchange and visiting students may work on campus if they hold a valid study permit and are registered full-time. They must apply for study permits outside of Canada and have the required work conditions on their study permit.

After you arrive on campus, find out how to apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Working off Campus

You do not need a work permit to work off-campus. You must have a valid study permit with the remarks "May accept employment" or "May work" and be enrolled full-time in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate (ESL/ELP programs are not eligible). If your student status changes to "part-time," you must stop working immediately. If you have a part-time registration status during your final term of study, you continue to be eligible to work.

Exchange and visiting students may work off-campus if you hold a valid study permit with the remarks "May accept employment" or "May work" and are registered full-time. You must apply for study permits from outside Canada and have the required work conditions in your study permit.

You need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work on or off campus. Find out how to apply for a Social Insurance Number.

You can:

  • Work off-campus up to 20 hours per week during regular terms (fall and winter) and full time during regularly scheduled breaks (including spring, summer, winter break, and reading weeks)
  • Work full time if you completed your program of study and applied for a post-graduation work permit with a valid study permit within 90 days of finishing your program.

If you have completed your program of study and have not applied for a post-graduate work permit, you are not authorized to continue working off-campus beyond your program completion date.

ELP, Open Studies, and Special Students - you are not eligible to work off-campus because your program of study does not meet the eligibility requirements for working off-campus and will not lead to a degree.

You are eligible to work on campus, provided you are in full-time studies (9 credits or more) and have a valid study permit containing the remarks "May accept employment" or "May work."

IMPORTANT NOTE: Part-time international students, or students on academic leave, or authorized leave of absence, cannot work on- or off-campus in Canada.

Co-Op Students

Students studying in a program that requires a co-op, internship or practicum placement as part of their curriculum must apply for a Co-op Work Permit. Co-op Work Permits are for programs with mandatory work components such as co-op/internship programs or programs with practicums only. Visit the International Services Centre to speak with an International Student Advisor for information on how to apply.

More information on Co-Op Work Permits [PDF]


Co-Op Work Permit COVID-19 Program Delivery Updates

Updated January 19, 2021

The Government of Canada announced temporary measures that provide students with the opportunity to begin their co-op work placement before their co-op work permit is issued.

The measures differ depending on where the student will be when starting their co-op placement.

Students Who Will be Outside Canada:
If the student is outside of Canada at the start of their co-op placement, they can start their co-op placement if both their school and employer agree.

They can either:

  • accept a Canadian work placement and begin working remotely from their home country
  • work for a company in their home country
Students Who Will be Inside Canada:

Students who are already in Canada, and have applied for a co-op work permit, may start their co-op placement using their on-campus and off-campus work authorization, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements.

On-Campus Co-Op Placements:

Students may start working full-time if their co-op placement is on campus and they are full-time students as per [R186(f)].

Off-Campus Co-Op Placements:

Students may start working a total of 20 hours per week during Fall and Winter terms as per [R186(v)]. While working a total of 20 hours/week during the co-op placement, the student should not have any other off-campus employment.

Students may start working full-time if their co-op placement takes place during scheduled breaks.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Students with refused co-op applications must stop their co-op work immediately. 

Work Requirements for Graduate Students

All University of Alberta graduate students on a Study Permit can work an unlimited number of hours per week on campus and up to 20 hours a week off-campus.

Thesis-based graduate students are permitted to work 20 hours per week off-campus year-round.

Course-based graduate students can work 20 hours a week off-campus during academic sessions and full-time during regularly scheduled breaks.

Part-time international students, or students on academic leave, or authorized leave of absence, cannot work on or off-campus in Canada.

Part-time registration periods or periods of authorized leaves that exceed 150 days may harm future post-graduation work-permit applications and could be interpreted as not "studying continuously." Students must provide additional documentation to explain these periods when applying for a post-graduation work permit.

Visit the International Services Centre for more information on working on or off-campus.


Working After Graduation

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) allows international students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to obtain an open work permit that allows them to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) may be issued for a maximum of 3 years if the program of study is at least 2 years long. Students who complete programs of study that are less than 2 years in duration (but not shorter than 8 months) may be eligible to receive a PGWP that matches with the exact length of study program completed.

For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you may be eligible for a three-year PGWP as long as you meet all the PGWP eligibility criteria. If you graduate from a one-year degree program, you will be eligible to receive a one year PGWP unless you complete a second PGWP eligible program in Canada within 2 years of the completion of your first program and you may be eligible to request a PGWP based on the combined length of two programs in this case. For detailed information on how IRCC assessed PGWP length, please review the information here

If you did not continuously study full-time in your program, please speak to an International Student Specialist to discuss your situation before submitting your PGWP application to IRCC.

If you are considering taking a break from studies or enrolling as a part-time student during a regular academic term in your program, please consult with an International Student Specialist to understand how this may impact your PGWP eligibility in future.

Work experience gained under the PGWP may qualify you to apply for Permanent Residency through the Canadian Experience Class and/or the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP), formerly the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program. 

Resources:

Post Graduation Work Permit

IRCC’s PGWP Temporary COVID Policy

On August 25, 2022, IRCC announced an extension until August 31, 2022 to the temporary policy that allows online studies completed outside Canada to count towards Post- Graduation Work Permit length. To learn more about IRCC’s announcement regarding the extended distance learning measure click here.

Learn more, read "Work in Canada after you graduate" IRCC pages: "Who Can Apply" and "About Post-Graduation Work Permit."

Students with questions about their PGWP eligibility can contact an International Student Advisor by submitting a general inquiry through our service portal, and you may also schedule a virtual meeting or connect with us in-person.

New Temporary Policy will allow some PGWP holders to apply for an Open Work Permit extension of up to 18 months 

On April 22, 2022, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a new temporary policy that will allow Post Graduation Work Permit holders to qualify for an Open Work Permit of up to 18 months.

On August 2, 2022, detailed information about this policy was announced, to access this information please click here.

Resources & Information for Working in Canada

Working After Completing Your Program

From the time your program is completed and before your completion letter is issued, you can work part-time for no more than 20 hours/week off campus, and you must stop working as soon as your program completion letter gets issued.

Once you submit your PGWP application to IRCC, you can immediately start working full-time while the application is under process - as long as you meet the following requirements:

  1. Your study permit is valid at the time you submit your PGWP application.
  2. You apply within 90 days of the issued date of the completion letter.
  3. Your study permit authorizes you to work off-campus.
  4. You did not work more than the allowable hours of work (20 hours per week off campus during regular academic terms)

NOTE: Study Permit becomes invalid in one of the following way (whichever comes first):

  • The expiry date listed on the permit, OR
  • 90 days after program completion date

If you submit your PGWP application on the same day your Program Completion Letter becomes available, you may continue to work without any gaps in your employment. If you are unable to submit your PGWP application on the same day your Completion Letter becomes available, you must not engage in any employment activity until you submit your PGWP application and if you meet all the eligibility requirements listed above, you may start full-time work after you submit your PGWP application to IRCC.

How to apply for PGWP

Within 180 days of completing your studies, you must submit your PGWP application to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Inside Canada applicants

Students who are inside Canada should ensure that their temporary resident status in Canada doesn’t expire before they submit their PGWP application to IRCC. Students whose study permit will become invalid or expire while they wait for their Program Completion Letter and Official Transcripts to be issued (required for the PGWP application) can choose one of the options listed below:

  1. apply for a Study Permit extension to request an additional 90-day period after their final term of study (we recommend that you apply to extend your Study Permit at least 4 - 5 months prior to the expiry date)
  2. apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada (while you wait for your final marks and/or program completion letter to be issued)
  3. leave Canada and apply for PGWP from outside

Note: If your study permit is going to expire before the end of your final term, you must proceed with Option 1 above (i.e. apply to extend your study permit before the expiry date listed on your permit).

If you are inside Canada and your Study Permit permit expires, you must apply to restore your status as a student to apply for your PGWP (additional fees must be paid). Please consult with an International Student Specialist if you find yourself in this situation. 

Outside Canada applicants

Students are also eligible to apply for the PGWP outside of Canada whether or not their study permit is valid, as long as this is done within 180 days from receiving formal notification of completion and their study permit was valid at some point in the 180 days preceding their application submission. The application must contain proof that you completed your program of study in the form of an official transcript and a letter from the University confirming your program completion.

The 180-day period usually starts on the issue date of your Program Completion letter from the University.

Visit the IRCC website for more information.