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

To work in Canada after you graduate, you must apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

The Post-Graduation Work Permit 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 (but not shorter than 8 months) may be eligible for a PGWPP issued for the same length as their program.

For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you may be eligible for a three-year work permit so long as you meet the criteria. If you graduate from a one-year degree program, you qualify for a valid work permit for no more than one year.

You might not be eligible for a PGWP if you did not continuously study full-time in your program. If this applies to you, speak to an International Services Centre advisor to discuss your situation.

Work experience gained under the PGWP may qualify you for PR through the Canadian Experience Class and/or the Alberta Immigration Nominee Program. 

Resources:

Post Graduation Work Permit

IRCC’s PGWP Temporary COVID Policy

IRCC announced that students currently enrolled in programs of study and studying online while outside Canada due to COVID would maintain their eligibility for the Post Graduation Work Permit Program.

All your time studying online outside Canada between spring 2020 and August 31, 2022, counts toward the length of a PGWP. This applies even if you're completing 2 study programs.

You can now finish 100% of your studies online from outside Canada and still have this time count towards your PGWP eligibility.

You're eligible for this temporary policy if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You're enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program.
  • You were outside Canada and unable to travel to Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic but were still able to take online courses.
  • You began a program in any semester from spring 2020 to summer 2022, or your program was already in progress in March 2020.
  • You have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or you have applied for a study permit for which you are eventually approved before starting your program.
  • You meet all other PGWP eligibility criteria.

The following time won't count toward the length of a PGWP:

  • time spent studying outside Canada after August 31, 2022
  • time spent studying before you applied for a study permit
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 University of Alberta International at advising@ualberta.ca.

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 as an international student.

Once the completion letter is issued, if you submit a PGWP online application on the same day, you can work full-time during this time up until a decision is made, so long as you meet the following requirements:

  1. Your study permit is valid when you submit your application.
  2. You apply within 90 days of the issued date of the completion letter.
  3. Your study permit has the required work authorization statements.

If the PGWP application is not submitted immediately, students are not eligible to work at all.

How to apply for PGWP

Within 180 days of completing your studies, you must apply to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and have a valid study permit or valid visitor status in Canada. 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. 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 completion.

The 180-day period usually starts on the date issued of your letter from the University that acknowledges program completion.

Visit the IRCC website for more information.