Student Work Permits

Student Immigration

Work Permits for Students

Work related to a research, educational or training program Certain academic or training programs and research activities are designated as work which can be performed by a foreign national based and are confirmation-exempt. Foreign students (excluding medical interns or resident physicians) who need an employment practicum (which doesn’t form more than 50% of the total program of study) can obtain a Work Permit. That work must be an essential component of your academic program in which all participants are expected to complete before they receive their degree, diploma or certificate. An open Work Permit should be issued with your academic institution listed as your employer. In cases where several work periods are necessary throughout the academic course (e.g. five work terms and eight study terms for a degree), the Work Permit should be valid for the same period as the study permit.

Internships for career colleges and language schools Students (who hold study permits) attending career colleges or language schools (e.g. ESL/FSL) may also be eligible under this exemption, if there is a work practicum component to their study program.

Applicants should provide:

  • Written evidence from the school that a work component is required for successful completion of the course of study (i.e. a letter from the school, or a copy of the school’s curriculum).

  • Details of the work to be performed.

  • Normally the work will be supervised and involve a specific number of hours per term or semester. The work may be unpaid at times. The school should be in a position to name the businesses or types of businesses involved in this kind of study/work program.

  • The work practicum cannot comprise more than 50% of the total program of study.

High school students in the province of British Columbia B.C. requires all high school students in grades 11 and 12 to obtain work experience in order to graduate. An open Work Permit is given.

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers in Canada on Work Permits These people coming to Canada as temporary foreign workers may be authorized to work without first having a confirmed job offer.

Eligibility requirements: The principal foreign worker must be in a skilled occupational (NOC 0, A or B) and must either hold a Work Permit that is valid for a period of at least 6 month, or, if no Work Permit required must prove they will be working for at least 6 months. They must both physically reside in Canada.

PNP nominated applicants Spouses or common-law partners of Work Permit holders who have been nominated for permanent residence by a province will be entitled to open Work Permits for the duration of the Work Permit of the provincial nominee principal applicant regardless if the applicant is low skilled.

Work Permit The spouse’s or common-law partner’s Work Permit may be issued for a period that ends no later than the Work Permit of the principal foreign worker.

Spouses or common-law partners of foreign students These people are allowed to accept employment in the general labour market without HRSDC confirmation. This applies to students engaged in full-time studies at a Canadian university, community college, CEGEP, publicly funded trade/technical school or at a private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees. The Work Permits may be issued for as long as the spouse’s study permit, or the period of time the spouse is entitled to work after graduation.

Post-graduation employment Students may accept education-related employment for a maximum of one or two years (depending on which set of criteria they meet) following successful completion of their studies without the need for HRSDC confirmation. Students graduating from distance-learning programs are ineligible. Self-employed applicants can submit a business plan or contract(s)

General eligibility criteria

Students must have graduated from a program at a qualifying post-secondary institution and enrolled in full-time studies. They must have completed and passed their course of study or program, which lasted for at least eight months.

Must apply within 90 Days You must apply within 90 days of formal written notification by the institution that you’ve met the course requirements. Students who can prove that they have completed their program (e.g., final transcript, letter from the institution) may apply for the Work Permit before this formal notification. Calculation of the 90 days begins the day when the student’s final marks are issued, or when a formal written notification of program completion from the institution is received, whichever comes first. You must still hold a valid study permit upon application. Further, you mustn’t be formerly issued a Work Permit under this program following another course of study.

Length of Work Permit Study period 8 months – 2 years: Work Permits can be issued for a period no longer than the length of time studied, for up to 2 years.

More than 2 years: A Work Permit up to 3 years may be granted

Qualifying Institutions

  • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, university or CEGEP (in Quebec), or;

  • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and receives at least 50% of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify), or;

  • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees–but only if you are enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree as authorized by the province and not in all programs of study offered by the private institution

Canadian interests: Reciprocal employment – Youth exchange programs

International exchange programs allow students and young workers to work temporarily in another country where they acquire new skills, gain exposure to the values of the host country and develop a better understanding of other cultures. These allow university and college students and recent graduates the opportunity to combine employment, leisure and exploration of the host country.

Specific multilateral and bilateral exchanges

  • The International Association for Students of Economics and Commerce (AISEC)

  • The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)

  • The Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP)

  • The Working Holiday Programs (WHP) administered in Canada by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and its subsidiary, the Canadian Universities Travel Services (Travel Cuts) (tel. 416-966-2887 ext. 222). SWAP participants apply at SWAP affiliates abroad, while WHP participants may apply directly at a mission.

All foreign nationals participating in these programs, except citizens of the U.S., should apply outside Canada for their Work Permits. All of these programs listed above are fee exempt.

Applicants must be citizens of the countries with which Canada holds these reciprocal arrangements, and must apply at the mission responsible for their country

Note: Citizens of the U.S. accepted for any of these reciprocal exchange programs may apply for their Work Permits at any of the consulates or at ports of entry. Since the quota is not generally exceeded, there is currently no need for management of the quota from any one mission within the U.S. They should have an acceptance letter from the participating organization. Inland offices may not issue an initial Work Permit but they have the authority to extend a valid Work Permit provided the applicant is still within the allowable duration period.

Repeat participation: Foreign nationals are permitted to work in the same program only once. However, a student exchange program participant is permitted to subsequently apply for a Work Permit in a worker youth exchange program. They can re-apply for a Work Permit under one of the other programs. (Note: that the Young Trainees or Young Workers Programs and Co-op programs are employer–specific. The only exception is the U.S./Canada SWAP, whereby participants are eligible for a second year in the program following the completion of another year of full-time post-secondary study.)