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International students in canada

Know Your Canada Work Permit Options While On Study Permit

Last Updated On 21 March 2023, 9:23 AM EDT (Toronto Time)

Studying in Canada has several benefits as it provides a pathway to work and settle in Canada.

We all know that after completing your studies, you may begin working in Canada on post graduate work permit (PGWP).

This enables international students acquire Canadian experience to then apply to become a permanent resident. 

However, changing your study permit to a full-time work permit before completion of your studies involves several factors.

An important factor is where you are in your program. It will determine how to convert your study permit to a work permit.

Working while studying 

Those with a valid study permit can work up to 20 hours per week while studying. In some instances, you can work full-time as an international student, such as during a study break or the official internship or co-op term. 

In addition, as a Canadian study permit holder, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit to work part-time while studying.

However, your study permit should indicate that you are authorized to work in Canada. 

There is also a temporary policy in place for international students allowing them to work unlimited hours.

This is only applicable to students if they submitted their study permit application on or before October 7, 2022 and entered Canada before December 31, 2023.

Nonetheless, you can apply for your study permit amendment if you are eligible to work in Canada, but your study permit does not indicate it. 

Moreover, specific Canadian educational programs require you to complete an internship, coop or a work placement.

Therefore, you might be qualified to work full-time while enrolled in school for a part of your studies if you meet the requirements for your program co-op or internship. 

However, you will need a separate coop work permit for working full-time during your internship, coop, or work term. 

Applying for closed work permit before completing studies 

To change your existing study permit to a work permit, you will require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

In addition, you would need a valid Canadian job offer from an employer willing to support your work permit application. 

An LMIA establishes that the Canadian employer could not fill the position with a citizen or permanent resident. 

Your employer will need to secure a positive LMIA to support you. If secured, you can then apply for your work permit with the secured LMIA.

However, it is important to note that you will receive a closed work permit. 

 A closed LMIA work permit, as opposed to an open post-graduate work permit, is tied to a particular employer, position, and location.

As a result, those with closed work permits have less mobility than those with open work permits. 

It is crucial to remember that once you stop taking classes, your study permit will not be regarded as valid.

Therefore, you must notify Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that you are ending your studies. 

Then, if you do not have legal status in Canada as a result of terminating your studies, you must leave the country while waiting for your work permit application to be processed. 

Applying for Open work permit before completing studies

International students who are unable to sustain themselves financially may be granted an open work permit.

Destitute means without the basic necessities of life.

This program attempts to assist international students who are unable to cover the expense of their studies in Canada, whether for day-to-day necessities or tuition, owing to circumstances beyond their control.

While academic institutions may offer some flexibility in terms of commitments such as tuition and residential costs, work permit may be the only option for students to subsist under these circumstances.

Since, study permit holders must have adequate funds to pay their tuition and maintain themselves and any family members without working in Canada.

So, the open work permit for destitute students would be given only in extraordinary cases where an overseas student could produce sufficient documentation.

You can read our detailed article on requirements on open work permit for destitute international students.

Applying for a work permit after studies

Upon completing your studies at a designated learning institution (DLI), you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduate work permit.

A post-graduate work permit allows international students to work for up to three years, depending on their study program duration. 

A post-graduation work permit’s advantage is that it is not attached to any particular employer, profession, or place.

It is also known as an open work permit that allows you to work in any position, anywhere in Canada. 

After completing your studies, you have 180 days to apply for your post-graduate work permit (PGWP).

You do not need a job offer to apply, but you require your graduation letter and transcripts.

Additionally, you can apply for your PGWP from inside and outside Canada. 


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international students in canada