Canada international students can now work full-time

Dear Mr Brown,

Please explain how the lifting of the 20-hour workweek restriction will operate. I heard that international students in Canada can now work full time. Can I work full time while attending Lambton College in January?

—YM

Dear YM:

As you may know, international students who apply to study in an eligible Canadian education institution may be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week during their studies. No student can work more than 20 hours if he or she is enrolled in an active educational programme in Canada. The restriction is lifted during scheduled breaks, such as the holiday season. The policy is aimed at allowing international students to support themselves financially while also ensuring that they focus on finishing their studies rather than working in Canada.

Temporary removal of work restriction

The Government of Canada has recently announced the temporary removal of the work restriction of 20 hours for international students from November 15, 2022 – December 31, 2023. The measure was taken in order to address the labour shortages in the economy.

Canada is dealing with historic labour shortages as well as a historically low unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 per cent in September. The country is facing nearly one million job vacancies, impacting its economy at the time of global economic crises. The measure will allow over 500,000 eligible international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.

Challenges for International students

International students being able to work unlimited hours is a positive step. With the increased cost of living due to inflation, the move is welcomed. However, implicit with the temporary measure is that once the labour shortage is addressed, then international students will no longer be able to work unlimited hours.

Many critics of Canada’s immigration system would like the change to be permanent to allow international students more flexibility regarding work experience, including opportunities to work in managerial positions. International students have additional issues than domestic student such as higher tuition fees, yet they are restricted in working hours which limits their earning potential as well as the types of jobs they can apply for. This makes international students vulnerable to unscrupulous employers who may try to take advantage of their situation.

I have received a lot of positive feedback from my partner colleges in Canada and as well as my clients who will be able to work additional hours. This is definitely a welcomed change in policy.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study & Work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to documents.jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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