Skip to content

Opinion: Don Curry, International students’ hours of work will drop in January

Another item in the news this week is a 40 per cent decline in the number of study permit applications from India in the second half of this year

The good times will soon be over for international students and local employers who have been providing them with full-time work hours.

A temporary federal government policy allowed international students to work more than 20 hours per week from November 15, 2022, to December 31,2023. It was put into effect to alleviate labour shortages.

January 1, 2024, the former policy resumes, meaning international students can work no more than 20 hours per week.  That will create a financial problem for students, and a labour shortage for employers.

I have met students working more than one job, more than 40 hours per week, and it begs the question—are they in Canada to work, or to study?

It’s no secret that post-secondary study permits are the key to permanent residence, and international students figured that out long ago. I have many clients with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from their home countries, who enrol at Canadore College or Nipissing University.

Upon graduation they can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, and getting a full-time job is key to their path to permanent residence through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program.

Policy wonks who study immigration were mostly not in favour of the temporary jump to full-time hours, saying the students are here to study, not to work. Students, on the other hand, enjoyed the extra income they earned in the past year, and wonder how they will survive without it.

There have always been those who abuse the system, taking cash under the table jobs to work as many hours as they can. This practice is illegal for both the student and the employer. The student risks the cancellation of his or her study permit, and likely expulsion from Canada, while the employer faces the wrath of the Canada Revenue Agency.

So, what are the rules come January 1?

A student can start working only when the study program has started. Work before studies begin is prohibited.

Students can work off-campus up to 20 hours a week if they are a full-time student at a Designated Learning Institution, such as Canadore or Nipissing. Their course of studies has to be at least six months long and lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate. They have to have a Social Insurance Number.

Students can work more than one job to make up 20 hours per week.

During school breaks, such as winter and summer holidays, students can work as many hours as they like. They must be a full-time student both before and after the study break.

Another item in the news this week is a 40 per cent decline in the number of study permit applications from India in the second half of this year. Post-secondary institutions in Canada rely on large numbers of international students from India, the major source country, which accounts for almost half the total from all countries.

Media reports say the decline is more likely due to students from India taking to social media talking about how they are exploited in Canada, rather than the deteriorating diplomatic relationships between India and Canada. Indian students have been posting social media comments about the hardships faced in Canada, referring to the high cost of living and lack of good job opportunities.

Canadore President George Burton told me months ago that the college is diversifying its international student outreach to other countries. He was obviously concerned that relying mostly on one country for students is not a sound policy.

Editor’s Note: Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant living in North Bay and is a member of Bay Today’s community advisory committee.

Reader Feedback

Don Curry

About the Author: Don Curry

Don Curry is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and president of Curry Immigration Consulting and a former journalism instructor
Read more