Working in Canada as an international student

Are you interested in working in Canada during or after your studies? There are a number of options available to you. However, it is important for you to understand the eligibility criteria and applicable conditions in order to avoid violating any of the conditions for study permit holders or immigration laws.

In addition to the applicable immigration legislation, you will need information concerning your Social Insurance Number (SIN), Canadian labour standards and your tax obligations, and above all, you must ensure that studying always remains your primary activity.

Balancing studies and work

Working while you study allows you to acquire work experience in Québec, and gives you additional income. It is definitely something to consider, but you must be able to handle the workload!

Combining full-time studies with work can represent a considerable challenge. Your studies at ÉTS must always be your main objective and primary activity. Otherwise, you may run into administrative problems (e.g.: failure or insufficient grade point average) or immigration problems (non-compliance with the law). ÉTS offers workshops focusing on part-time work for international students. Keep an eye on the Interface newsletter (in French).

Combining off-campus work, on-campus work and a co-op work term

It is legally permissible to combine on-campus work, off-campus work and a co-op work term if you meet the conditions for each of these programs, as described below.

Working on campus

Working on campus

As an international student, you are permitted to work on campus at ÉTS without a work permit if you meet the following eligibility conditions:

  • You are a full-time student*;
  • You hold a valid study permit;
  • Your study permit lists one of the following work conditions:
    • May work 20 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;
      OR
    • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria;
  • You have a Social Insurance Number.

*In the last semester of your study program, you are permitted to work on campus while being registered for part-time studies.

Definition of "on campus"

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stipulates that "On campus" means you can work at all the buildings on your school campus.

An on-campus employer can be ÉTS, as the educational institution, a faculty member, a student organization, yourself if you run a business that is physically located on-campus, a company (e.g.: Tim Hortons), etc.

You can also work at other locations under the following conditions:

  • You are working as a teaching or research assistant;
  • Your work is strictly related to a research grant.


Part-time work on campus

Are you interested in a few hours of paid work on campus? During every session, the various services and departments at ÉTS offer part-time jobs or hire students for specific events. Consult the list of on-campus jobs.

Work-study program

Are you a full-time ÉTS student looking for an on-campus job? The Work-Study Program subsidizes part-time jobs to help students who are experiencing financial difficulties. Visit the work-study program page.

Working off-campus

Working off-campus

As a general rule, international students can work part-time in an off-campus job without a work permit:


Overview of eligibility conditions

  • You are a full-time student:
    • In the last semester of your study program, you are permitted to work off campus while being registered for part-time studies.
  • You hold a valid study permit;
  • Your study permit lists one of the following work conditions:
    • May work 20 hours per week off campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;
      OR
    • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria;
  • You have a Social Insurance Number;
  • You respect the maximum number of hours per week (20 hours).

If you no longer meet these conditions, you must cease working immediately.

Number of permissible hours

If you are permitted to work off campus without a work permit, you must respect several conditions, especially with respect to the number of hours you can work per week. Please note that these hours are not cumulative from one week to the next. For example, it is not legal to work 30 hours in a given week because you only worked 10 hours the previous week.

IRCC stipulates that a student can work:

  • up to 20 hours per week* during a regular semester;
  • full-time (unlimited number of hours) during regular school breaks (e.g.: Summer vacation, Holiday season, period between two semesters).

* These hours are not cumulative from one week to the next. For example, it is not legal to work 30 hours in a given week because you only worked 10 hours the previous week.

Fall and winter semesters

  • For students in any full-time study program: Maximum of 20 hours per week.

Summer semester

  • For students in a full-time doctoral program or Master’s with Research program: Maximum of 20 hours per week, because students who are in these programs must be registered on a continuous bases, meaning three semesters per year;
  • For students in a Bachelor or DESS program, or in a part-time Master’s with Project program** or unregistered students: Permitted to work full-time if you were registered as a full-time student for the previous semester (Winter) and will be a full-time student for the next semester (Fall). If you are planning to take part in a co-op work term, you must hold a co-op work permit, even if the co-op work term is carried out during the Summer semester.

School vacations

  • For students in any full-time study program: Permitted to work full-time, with no limit on the number of hours. Consult the academic calendar for the dates of school vacations at ÉTS.

* Students who are registered for a full-time doctoral program or Master’s with Research program must be registered on a continuous basis, meaning three semesters per year.

** Students in a Bachelor program or in a part-time Master’s with Project program who are carrying out a co-op work term as part of their program must hold a co-op work permit, even if the co-op work term is carried out during the Summer semester.

IMPORTANT: Not studying during the summer will almost inevitably lead to exceeding the time allowed for completing your program. In addition to impacting your academic path, this will put you in a position of having to begin the process of renewing your immigration documents, which is both complex and costly. It is strongly recommended that you register for all sessions and use the Summer session to carry out your co-op work term or project within a company setting, and work only part-time.

Co-op work term

Co-op work term

Professional experience is an integral part of many programs at ÉTS. All undergraduate students must complete three paid co-op work terms. Some graduate students will also have an opportunity to complete an industrial co-op work term during their program. More information concerning co-op work terms (in French).

As an international student, you absolutely must obtain a co-op work permit (CWP) from IRCC, regardless of the session during which you carry out your co-op work term (including the Summer session). The CWP is also required in order to access the offers for co-op work terms, but it is not required in order to register for preparatory course PRE811.

If your permit expires before the end of your co-op work term, you must renew it before the end of the session corresponding to the co-op work term. You can renew this permit at the same time as your study permit, or via a separate application. Renewing your immigration documents

Documents to attach to your application

In addition to the required documents indicated on the document checklist, do not forget to attach the following document from ÉTS:

  • At the Bachelor or certificate 4023 level: Your ÉTS admission letter (which indicates that the co-op work term is an integral part of your study program)
  • At the Master’s with Project level: A letter requesting a co-op work permit. To obtain this letter, fill out an online request for certificate of registration (in French) from the Registrar’s Office.


Applying for a CWP

Via your application for a study permit

ÉTS strongly recommends that students apply for a CWP at the same time as the initial application or when renewing their study permit. This is the easiest and most efficient approach. By doing so, you will receive the letter of introduction or the CWP at the same time as your study permit, with no additional delays or fees.

  • During the initial application: Respond "yes" to the question "Is professional experience an integral part of your study program?";
  • During the renewal process: Respond "yes" to the question "Do you also want to request a work permit?";
  • Attach the admission letter OR the "Letter requesting a co-op work permit" certificate with the documents indicated on the document checklist;
  • If you are not given a work permit at the airport, submit an explicit application with Border Services.

Via a separate application

If you did not obtain your CWP via your application for a study permit, you can request it online (at no cost) from inside Canada. Processing times generally range from 2 to 3 months. You will receive your permit by mail at your residential address in Québec.

  • Step 1: Sign in to your IRCC secure account;
  • Step 2: The system will guide you with questions. You must respond by indicating that you wish to work in Canada, that you have not received a diploma and that you have not received a written offer of employment.


Applying at a port of entry (not recommended by ÉTS)

It is possible to apply for a CWP at a port of entry into Canada, on the condition that you are exempt from the requirement for a temporary resident visa. Your application will then be processed by a Canada Border Services Officer (not by Immigration Canada), and the permit will be issued on site. There is no form to fill out, but you must ensure that you have all of your supporting documents on hand. Begin by filling out a simulated online application or consult the document checklist corresponding to the application.

IMPORTANT! If you plan to apply at the Canada-US border ("flagpoling"), it is important to understand that this process requires you to leave Canadian territory and then cross the border again. The person who requests to enter Canada again is then subject to normal customs controls. You must also respect the service hours at border crossings during which these types of permits are issued. Therefore, it is crucial that you hold valid temporary resident status (student or visitor). ÉTS strongly recommends that you submit your application online through IRCC.

Request to amend a CWP

If there is inaccurate information on your work permit, or if the Employer, Location or Occupation sections contain erroneous restrictions or information, you must fill out a Request to Amend Valid Temporary Resident Documents.

Procedure

  • Fill out and sign the IMM 1436 form.
    • In Part C - box 2, explain that your co-op work permit is non-compliant, and indicate the information to be amended.
  • Collect all of the required documents, including the original of your work permit.
  • Send the entire package by registered mail to the address indicated on the form.

Processing times generally range from 1 to 3 months. Consult the IRCC website for current processing times.

Working after completing your studies

Working after completing your studies

In most cases, international students can apply for a work permit after completing their studies. Verify your eligibility on the IRCC website.

Transition from study permit to work permit

You must ensure that you maintain your proper standing during the transition period between the end of your studies and obtaining your work permit. Here are some important reminders:

  • If you have completed all of your academic activities, you can continue to work in compliance with the conditions stipulated on your study permit while you wait for your certificate of completed studies and your final transcript.
  • You must immediately cease working with your study permit once ÉTS has issued your certificate of completed studies and your final transcript.
  • If your study permit is valid at the time when you submit your application for a co-op work permit (CWP), you can begin to work full-time immediately, without waiting to receive your work permit by mail (implied status).
  • If your study permit expires before you submit your application for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you must change your status to that of a visitor by attaching an explanatory letter. You must wait until you receive your work permit before starting to work.
  • If you no longer have a legal status, you must apply for restoration of status at the time when you apply for your PGWP. You are not authorized to work during this period.


Overview of a post-graduation work permit

The PGWP is an open work permit, which means that it is not associated with a specific employer and you do not require a valid offer of employment when you apply for it.

Eligibility criteria

  • You must have successfully completed a study program and have received the transcript and certificate of completed studies from the Registrar’s Office;
  • Submit your application within 180 days after ÉTS establishes your final marks;
  • You must have maintained full-time status as a student in Canada during each semester of your study program (unless granted an authorized exception). If this situation does not apply, attach an explanatory letter and other supporting documents;
  • If you are in Canada, you must hold valid temporary resident status at the time when you submit your application;
  • You must not have received a PGWP following the successful completion of another study program;
  • See all of the eligibility criteria and the procedure to follow for applying for a PGWP on the IRCC website.

PGWP validity period

The validity period depends on the normal length of your study program:

  • Programs lasting 2 years or more (Bachelor, Master, Ph.D.): 3 years;
  • Programs lasting less than 2 years (DESS, certificate): Validity period equal to the normal length of your study program.


Processing times and fees

Processing times may vary depending on the time of year and where you submit your application. Verify the current processing times on the IRCC website.

According to the IRCC Fee list, the fee for obtaining a PGWP is $255, in addition to the biometrics fees that may apply, depending on your situation.

Biometrics

If you have not given your biometric data (fingerprints, photo) as part of a previous application (e.g.: study permit) within the last 10 years, you must do so as part of this application. The fees are $85 per person, or a maximum of $170 per family.

If you submit your application for a post-graduation work permit online, you will receive a letter advising you to make an appointment at a Service Canada Centre. Save time by paying the biometric fees when you apply for your work permit. Detailed information concerning biometrics.

How to apply

If is preferable to submit you application for a PGWP online, regardless of whether you are in Canada or not.

Online from Canada

The application is submitted online via your GCKey account. To submit you application from inside Canada, you must hold valid legal status.

Online from outside of Canada

The application is submitted online via your GCKey account. Once the application has been accepted, the Visa Office will issue you a letter of introduction for a PGWP for the port of entry into Canada, along with a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Please note that, if you submit an application from outside of Canada, you are not required to respect the condition of holding valid legal status.

At a port of entry (not recommended by ÉTS)

It is possible to apply for a PGWP at a port of entry into Canada, on the condition that you are exempt from the requirement for a temporary resident visa. Your application will then be processed by a Canada Border Services Officer (not by Immigration Canada), and the permit will be issued on site. There is no form to fill out, but you must ensure that you have all of your supporting documents on hand. To get a better idea of the procedure, begin by filling out a simulated online application, or consult the document checklist.

IMPORTANT: If you plan to apply at the Canada-US border, it is important to understand that this process requires you to leave Canadian territory and then cross the border again. The person who requests to enter Canada again is then subject to normal customs controls. You must also respect the service hours at border crossings during which these types of permits are issued. Therefore, it is crucial that you hold valid temporary resident status (student or visitor). ÉTS strongly recommends that you submit your application online through IRCC.

Receiving your PGWP

Once you receive your post-graduation work permit, you must follow a number of other administrative procedures:

  • Insurance: You will then be eligible for the Régie d’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ – Québec Health Insurance Plan) throughout the validity period of your post-graduation work permit;
  • Social Insurance Number: Apply for or renew your SIN;
  • Temporary resident visa (TRV): If you require a visa to enter Canada, you can renew it;
  • Income tax obligations.
Social Insurance Number

Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required in order to work in Canada. You will be asked to provide it when being hired or on your tax returns. The SIN is a nine-digit number that is assigned to you by the Government of Canada. Your SIN is valid until your study permit or work permit expires, and is renewable.

Obtaining a Social Insurance Number

  1. Collect the required documents (e.g.: original of your study permit, work permit, passport, etc.);
  2. Go to the nearest Service Canada Centre (Complexe Guy-Favreau, 200 boul. René-Lévesque Ouest, Montréal) in person;
  3. If everything is in order, you will receive your SIN on site.

IMPORTANT: In order to obtain a SIN, you must have a valid work permit or a study permit that indicates that you are authorized to work. Consult the Immigration page if you wish to amend any of your documents.

Expiration and renewing your SIN

Most international students have a Social Insurance Number beginning with the number “9”. Your Social Insurance Number remains valid if you are in a situation of implied status or if you are waiting to receive your post-graduation work permit. It is important for you and your employer to consult the Employer information – SIN page, and specifically the section entitled "Before extending employment for your employee".

In both of these situations, you maintain your right to work and/or study in accordance with the conditions of your initial permit until a decision is rendered. You must then have your SIN renewed once you receive the new permit.

Be aware of fraud!

Your Social Insurance Number is confidential, so exercise caution. If it falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to obtain your personal information and invade your privacy. Visit Protecting your SIN to determine when you are legally required to provide your SIN and when you are not. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) and take all other necessary measures.

Tax obligations and labour standards

Tax obligations and labour standards

Income tax obligations

All Canadian residents are required to declare their income for the previous year on or before April 30. Income is declared to both Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Overview of income tax

  • The concept of resident for income tax purposes is different from that for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The requirement to declare your income is based on the status of residence, not on the status of student or citizenship.

  • Even if you are not working in Canada, it may be advantageous for you to declare your income here, as you may be entitled to certain tax credits.
  • If you plan to remain in Canada for a number of years to study or to work after completing your studies, start declaring your income right away. It’s easier and more beneficial.

For more detailed information


Income tax clinic

Student Services does not offer advice or guidance with respect to filling out tax returns. However, the ÉTS Student Association (AÉÉTS) offers students an income tax declaration service every spring. This is an easy, fast and affordable way to fulfil this requirement. Keep an eye on the Interface newsletter (in French) to remain informed.

Labour standards

All workers in Canada, regardless of their legal status, are protected by Canadian laws. This includes labour standards pertaining to holidays and absences, labour conditions, minimum wage and prohibited practices, such as harassment at work.

For more information:

Note: These pages present a summary of the applicable procedures, laws and regulations in Québec and Canada, which are subject to change without notice. The websites of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francophonie et de l’Intégration (MIFI) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) take precedence, and it is your responsibility to validate all information at the source.