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Just in – Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, has just dropped a major update increasing off-campus work hours for international students to 24 hours per week! While bumping up from 20 to 24 hours might seem marginal, this small step allows students and employers to engage in three shifts weekly, instead of two.

Key Takeaway

  • Starting Fall 2024, international students in Canada will be able to work up to 24 hours a week during term time. 
  • Public policy allowing certain international students in Canada to work full-time will not be extended past April 30th, 2024.
  • All international students must reduce their term time, off-campus work hours to 20 hours a week until Fall 2024 when the new 24-hour rule comes into force.

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New Off-Campus Work Limit: 24 Hours per week!

In a bold move, Canada is increasing off-campus work hours for international students to 24 hours per week, a slight bump from the prior 20-hour work week limit. This change will come into effect beginning this Fall and will be a permanent change.

While a shift from 20 hours off-campus work to 24 hours might look marginal, it effectively allows students and employers to engage one another for three shifts per week rather than two. As many shift-based jobs have a seven- or eight-hour rotation, employers may be less inclined to onboard and train new team members who can only be available for two shifts per week. 

The increase to 24 hours’ off-campus work per week tips the balance to three weekly shifts, potentially giving more employers confidence to hire student workers, and thereby putting more money in the pockets of those workers — money that can help pay international student tuition fees in Canada.

The decision to implement this change was carefully deliberated, taking into account factors such as typical shift lengths and research findings highlighting the negative impact of prolonged work hours on academic performance. Research has shown that increased work hours during studies are associated with declining academic performance and higher dropout rates.

Recognizing these risks, Canada is committed to providing international students a balance between academic excellence and financial support. 

Rationale for The 24-Hour Work Limit

According to Marc Miller, the rationale behind the 24-hour work week, equivalent to three shifts of eight hours each, strikes a reasonable balance that does not significantly impact academic performance. This is in line with the core principle of the international student program, which prioritizes academic pursuits over employment. 

Miller acknowledges the financial challenges faced by international students, but emphasizes the importance of ensuring their financial well-being.

What Does This Mean For Current International Students?

This new law will not come into effect until Fall 2024 therefore those currently studying in Canada will need to follow current regulations when it comes to working in Canada as an International Student. That is, up to 20 hours a week during term time and full time during scheduled breaks.

What Does This Mean For Future International Students?

For those looking at commencing studies in Canada, this new law will mean that you can work up to 24 hours a week during your studies. This might seem insignificant but will allow you to earn more money to support your studies. Take Ontario as an example. If you work a minimum-wage job in the province of Ontario, this would amount to roughly $2000 extra income over the school year.

How Does This Compare to Other Countries?

It is common for countries to limit the number of hours international students can study during term time. Studies conducted across the US and Canada have shown a decline in academic performance when students worked more than 28 hours a week.

A recent update for Australian international students allows 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 and even if they meet the additional criteria, they are only permitted to work 20 hours a week. Likewise, international students in the UK can only work 20 hours a week during term time.

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Previous Efforts to Allow International Students to Work More Hours

In October 2022, Canada waived the 20-hour per week restriction on off-campus work for international students, with intentions to support local economies and reduce financial burdens on students during the pandemic recovery.

Following this, in December 2023, the policy was extended to allow unlimited off-campus working hours for international students, contributing to the economic recovery efforts. However, this policy will come to an end on April 30th and will not be renewed.

The waiver for international students to exceed the 20-hour per week off-campus work limit during the academic term will remain in effect until April 30, 2024. This extension primarily affected current students in Canada and applicants who submitted their

Will The Public Policy be Extended?  

The short answer is no. The policy is set to expire on April 30th and it will not be renewed. The decision stems from the policy’s effectiveness in facilitating economic recovery, which has eliminated the need for its continuation.

This means that if you are an international student currently working full time during term time, you must reduce your hours to a maximum of 20 hours a week as of April 30th, 2024. If you work more than 20 hours a week during term time as of April 30th, 2024, there could be serious repercussions on future immigration applications.

 

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With the New 24-Hour Work Limit, Will International Students Still Be Able to Work Full-Time During Breaks?

Yes, the new 24-hour work limit caps the number of hours an international student can work during term time. During school breaks, international students can still work full- time.

Continued Reforms for International Students

The changes to off-campus work hours are just one part of a broader reform agenda for the international student program. In addition to changes to off-campus work hours, Canada is actively collaborating with provincial and territorial partners to drive progress.

In addition to this, a recognized institution framework has been implemented to reward post-secondary institutions that offer enhanced support for international students. 

By implementing these changes, Canada is showing their commitment to ensuring the success of the international student program, and is taking decisive action to improve the program for all those involved. 

Impact on Permanent Residency Pathways

When studying in Canada, it is important to note that work experience gained as a student does not count towards the minimum requirements for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Program.

However, there is good news for those applying under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program. Student work experience can be counted towards the minimum requirements if the work meets specific criteria:
  • paid,
  • continuous (with no gaps in employment), and
  • meets all other program criteria.

Author’s experience working as an International student

As an international student in Canada, I worked part-time alongside my full-time studies. From the get-go, I understood that part-time work would provide extra funds for daily expenses, savings, emergencies, or to improve my financial standing for PR down the line.

Even with a 20-hour weekly limit, juggling work and school was tough. Morning shifts and evening classes weighed on me, taking up mental energy that could have impacted my performance. I learned that doing well in school was more important because it could affect my study permit conditions and future work opportunities.

Ultimately, I viewed part-time work as a bonus, not the main focus. Full-time work during term breaks provided extra income when needed. The key takeaway is to prioritize studies, using part-time earnings as supplementary support.

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About the author

Rachel Dancel video content at 鶹ӳý

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Newcomers Influencer & Video Content Creator
Originally from the Philippines, her immigration journey began as an international student, leading to permanent residency in 2021. Passionate about sharing her immigration experience, she created a YouTube channel during a pivotal time. A visual storyteller, Rachel adds unique perspective to the team as our Video Content Creator. She crafts engaging and informative content to help fellow immigrants navigate their journey to Canada.
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