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Canada lifts 20-hour-per-week work restrictions for international students

Employers are facing unprecedented challenges in finding and retaining the workers they need during this period of economic recovery and growth. The Government of Canada is continuing to take concrete actions to address current labour needs.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the temporary lifting of the 20-hour-per-week cap on the number of hours that eligible post-secondary students are allowed to work off-campus while class is in session.

From November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, international students who are in Canada and who have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will not be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. Foreign nationals who have already submitted a study permit application, as of today, will also be able to benefit from this temporary change, provided their application is approved.

This measure will provide many international students with a greater opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada, and will increase the availability of workers to sustain Canada’s post-pandemic growth. With more than 500,000 international students already in Canada available to potentially work additional hours, this temporary change reflects the important role international students can play in addressing our labour shortage, while continuing to pursue their studies. Study permit holders are still expected to balance their study and work commitments, as those who stop studying or reduce course loads to only study part-time are not eligible to work off-campus.

From November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, international students who are in Canada and who have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will not be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. Click To Tweet

This month, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also launching a pilot project to automate the processing of study permit extensions. The types of applications being included in this pilot have a consistently high approval rate, as all applicants have previously been approved to study in Canada.

The pilot will involve a small group of applicants who could see their extended study permit processed much faster, with the goal of improving client service. Should the pilot be successful, it will be expanded in order to help reduce processing times and allow officers to focus on more complex applications.

Today’s announcement is part of a series of initiatives that aim to benefit international students and graduates, while supporting Canada’s broader efforts to improve client service and application processing times.

Other measures recently launched to benefit international students and recent graduates include:

With unprecedented interest in Canada from applicants around the world, IRCC continues to set the bar higher for immigration processing. Ongoing efforts and client service improvements by the department aim to strengthen Canada’s immigration system, shorten wait times, reduce application backlogs and improve the experience of clients overall.

“With the economy growing at a faster rate than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and workforce needed to fuel our growth. Immigration will be crucial to addressing our labour shortage. By allowing international students to work more while they study, we can help ease pressing needs in many sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”

 – The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

  • Most post-secondary international students are allowed to work on and/or off campus, with their authorization to work printed directly on their study permit. In the past, nearly half of the post-secondary international students in Canada reported earning income during their studies.
  • Prior to today’s announcement, any student with the authorization to work off-campus was permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while class is in session, as well as full-time during scheduled breaks. Students eligible to work on campus are not subject to a cap on hours for on-campus work.
  • From January 1, 2022, to the end of August 2022, more than 452,000 study permit applications have been processed. During the same period in 2021, which was a record year, 367,000 applications were processed. This represents an increase of 23%.
  • IRCC processed nearly 119,000 study permit extension applications in 2021, with an approval rate of 97%. From January 1, 2022, to the end of August 2022, more than 135,000 were processed, with an approval rate of 96%.
  • Applications being considered as part of the pilot to automate study permit extensions will need to meet certain criteria in order to be automated. Applications that fall outside of the criteria will be manually reviewed by officers. The automated process will not refuse applications or recommend refusals. Any decision to refuse an application will continue to be made by an officer.
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