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1st May 2024

Canada: New limits on off-campus work during studies

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • As of 30 April 2024, international students in Canada can no longer work more than 20 hours per week off campus while studying
  • 8 in 10 international students do currently work more than 20 hours per week according to Canadian government research
  • Students are permitted to work for up to 20 hours per week until September 2024
  • In September 2024, the limit will increase to 24 hours per week
  • Students remain able to work unlimited hours during breaks and summer holidays

Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced this week that the temporary COVID-era policy allowing international students to work an unlimited number of hours off campus during their studies will end as of 30 April 2024. This means that the standing policy limiting students to 20 hours of off-campus work during studies is once again in effect.

However, the Canadian government also announced that beginning in September 2024, that limit on off-campus work hours will be increased to 24 hours per week. Until that time, students are permitted to work for no more than 20 hours per week while classes are in session.

The government had been debating whether it would extend the temporary provision enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic of students being able to work up to 40 hours per week, or to set a cap of 30 hours, but decided in the end that a weekly limit of 24 hours will:

  • Allow students to work the equivalent of three eight-hour shifts per week;
  • Dissuade visa applications from students whose main purpose of coming to Canada is to work;
  • Not create undue distraction for students from their studies.

Students will continue to be able to work as many hours as they like during breaks and summer holidays.

Announcing the forthcoming 24-hour weekly limit, Minister Miller said:

“Looking at best practices and policies in other like-minded countries, most of them limit the number of working hours for international students. Canada's rules need to be aligned or we will find our programs attracting more and more applicants whose primary intent is to work and not studying …. We know from studies as well that when you start working in and around 30-hour levels, there is a material impact on the quality of your studies.”

The new rules will be a major change for most international students in Canada. CBC News reports that the IRCC has determined that 80% of international students are now working more than 20 hours a week.

The Canadian government has published “Quick Facts” related to the announcement. These include:

  • “Recent studies conducted in the US and Canada have shown that there is a considerable decline in academic performance for students working more than 28 hours per week, and that working more than 24 hours per week increases the chances that a student will drop out of their program.
  • Most countries that welcome international students set limits on the number of hours they may work while they study. Australia recently changed its policy to allow a student to work 48 hours every 2 weeks. In the US, students must meet additional criteria before being permitted to work off campus at all.”

In general, international students coming to Canada must now have more existing funds than in the past. Each student applying for a visa must have CDN$20,635 (US$14,930) plus the first year of tuition and additional proof of being able to cover other costs. The requirement increases with every additional family member the student brings with them.

For additional background, please see:

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