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Understanding Work Opportunities as an International Student in Canada on-campus

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Work on campus

Before delving into your studies as an international student in Canada, you might be contemplating your work opportunities. The good news is, students can start working when their study program begins – prior to that, work is not permissible.

Your study permit should hold a specific condition that indicates you can undertake employment on or off your campus.

Working without needing a work permit is possible under certain conditions. For example, you can work on your school campus if you are:

  • Engaged in full-time studies at a public post-secondary institution, such as a university, college, or trade school, or at a CEGEP in Quebec.
  • Studying at a private post-secondary school in Quebec that adheres to the same rules as Quebec’s public schools.
  • Enrolled in a private or public secondary or post-secondary institution in Quebec that offers 900-hour or longer programs leading to a diploma or an attestation of vocational studies.
  • Attending a Canadian private school that can lawfully grant degrees under provincial law, only if the study program leads to a provincially authorized degree. Not all programs offered by the institution may be included.
  • Holding a valid study permit.
  • In possession of a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Even in your final semester, if you’re studying part-time after being a full-time student for all other semesters, you can work with no hourly limitations on campus.

However, there are certain conditions where working on campus must be halted. These include when you stop studying full time, when your study permit expires, if you take an authorized leave from your studies, or if you’re transitioning between schools and not currently studying. Your work can only resume once you return to your studies and meet all the on-campus work requirements.

Understanding the term “on-campus” is essential, which essentially means any buildings on your school campus. Mostly, you are restricted to working on the campus where you’re studying. Exceptions can be made if you are a teaching or research assistant and your work is closely connected to a research grant. In such cases, you may be permitted to work in a library, hospital, or research facility associated with your school, even if they are off-campus. Certain locations may require you to have a medical examination.

When we talk about “on-campus” employers, they could be the school itself, a faculty member, a student organization, or even yourself if you have a business located on-campus. Additionally, a private business or a private contractor offering on-campus services to the school also qualify as on-campus employers.

To work in Canada, it’s crucial to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which is a 9-digit number provided by the Government of Canada. With a SIN, you are eligible to work and gain access to government benefits and services.

To apply for a SIN for on-campus work, your study permit must have one of two conditions printed on it:

  1. Permission to take up employment on or off campus, given eligibility criteria are met. Work must cease if these criteria are no longer met.
  2. The permit does not authorize off-campus work. On-campus employment is permissible, given eligibility criteria are met. Work must cease if these criteria are no longer met.

If your study permit doesn’t include these conditions, you can request to have them added at no extra cost. An amendment to your study permit must be requested before you can apply for a SIN from Service Canada.

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