Work Opportunities for International Students

October 3rd, 2006 by IEFA

International students cannot and should not rely on employment during school as a primary funding source for their education. For one thing, you typically cannot use future employment income to meet the financial requirements of your visa. In addition, students cannot earn enough to fund their education solely or primarily through work.

However, there are definitive advantages to being able to work while you study internationally. The income can help supplement other sources of funds, and can provide living and travel expenses. The experience you will gain is invaluable, and will help you to get the most out of your time abroad. You will learn to use your English skills in a different setting. You may find a job related to your future career, which will give you a significant advantage when applying for jobs after graduation. And regardless of the type of work, employers want employees who have worked, not just studied.

Canada Off-Campus Employment

The next few posts will highlight the employment rules for international students studying in english speaking countries. We’ll start with Canada, which has had the most dramatic recent change. There are over 150,000 international students in Canada, and as of this semester, the majority of them are eligible to work off-campus. Previously, international students were restricted to on-campus work, as they are in the US.

On-campus work is very limited, difficult to obtain, typically not very lucrative, and not often related to your studies. So opening up off-campus work for international students in Canada is a great leap forward, and will help to make Canada an even more attractive location for international students.

Some details of the new rules, adopted last April:

In order to be eligible for the Canadian program, foreign students must have a valid study permit, and they must have studied full-time at an eligible Canadian public, post-secondary institution for at least six months out of the 12 months preceding their work permit application. Schools must sign an agreement with the province or territory in which they are located in order to participate in the program. The agreement includes monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure that students retain their eligibility for the program.

Under agreements with the provinces, eligible full-time students who retain satisfactory academic standing can apply to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week off-campus while
classes are in session and full-time during scheduled breaks (including summer or winter
holidays and reading weeks).

Exchange students, students enrolled in English- or French-as-a-second-language programs, and students who have received awards from the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program, the Government of Canada Awards Program or the Canadian International Development Agency are not eligible for work permits under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program.

For more information, read the full press release from Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding the new rules here:

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