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.

Find out if you can work off campus

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.

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

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:

International students who hold a study permit and are registered full time can work on campus with no limit to the number of hours.

Even if you are not limited to 20 hours per week, studying must always be your main activity in order to remain in compliance with the conditions of your study permit.

You maintain your authorization to work off campus with no limit on hours, even if you are studying part time during the final session of your study program, as long as you were registered for full-time studies throughout the rest of your program.

IRCC clarified the rules governing self-employment, reiterating that it is subject to the same conditions as on- or off-campus work, depending on the physical location where the self-employment is carried out. If your self-employment is carried out on campus (e.g.: you live in the ÉTS residences and carry out contracts as a webmaster), you are authorized to work an unlimited number of hours.

Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that you document your hours and keep all relevant documentation.

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 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.
  • Respect the maximum number of hours per week.

Summary table of authorized off-campus work hours (PDF)

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

In terms of authorization for working off-campus, it is crucial to respect the maximum number of hours per week. In short, IRCC stipulates that a student can work:
 

  • a maximum of 20 hours per week during regular sessions*;
  • full-time (unlimited hours) during regular breaks indicated in the academic calendar**

*Regular session: At ÉTS, the Fall and Winter sessions are considered to be regular sessions for all programs. The regulatory framework at ÉTS makes a distinction between programs with a research profile and course-based programs with respect to the Summer session. For more detailed information, consult the Glossary of university studies at ÉTS and the section below that discusses the specific characteristics of the Summer session.

**Break indicated in the academic calendar: The break must be part of the ÉTS academic calendar, such as the holiday period at the end of the year, the student break week, break periods between sessions, etc.

Attention! – These hours are not transferable from week to week. For example, you are not permitted to work 30 hours during a given week because you only worked 10 hours during the previous week.

For the Summer session, it is important familiarize yourself with the specific conditions that apply to your study program in order to avoid placing yourself in a non-legal situation.

For students who are registered in a research-type program (PhD, M.A.Sc.)

  • The Summer session is a regular term for Doctoral and Master with thesis programs. Therefore, full-time registration is mandatory, and off-campus work must be limited to 20 hours per week.
  • If you do not wish to register for the Summer session, you must apply for an authorized absence from ÉTS. In such a case, you are not authorized to work on campus or off campus, as stipulated on the IRCC website under the section entitled Authorized leave from studies.

For students who are registered in a course-type program (bachelor, certificate, Specialized Graduate Program (DESS), M.Eng.)

  • If it is not your first session in the program, registration for the Summer session is not mandatory although it is strongly recommended to accumulate course, internship or project credits. .
  • You may decide to register for part-time studies or full-time studies, or to not register, while still taking advantage of the right to work full time, subject to certain conditions:
    1. Have been registered full-time for the preceding Winter session;
    2. Register for full-time studies in the same study program for the subsequent Fall session, OR on an exceptional basis, register for part-time studies if the Fall session is the final session for your study program.

For more information, please consult the section entitled Full-time or part-time course load during a scheduled break on the IRCC website.

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 renew your immigration documents.

You maintain your authorization to work off campus up to 20 hours / week, even if you are studying part time during the final session of your study program, as long as you were registered for full-time studies throughout the rest of your program.

There may be certain nuances related to your study regime at the end of your program, depending on the type of program:
 

  • Programs with a research profile: Even if you have accumulate all of your research credits and are registered for zero (0) credits (REDAC – writing), ÉTS considers you to be continuing to study full time, even in the case of an extension of your program, as long as you were studying full time for all of the previous sessions of your program (mandatory according to the Regulations).
     
  • Programs with a project profile: If you are in your final session with zero (0) credit activities (REDAC – writing) AND you were registered for full-time studies throughout the rest of your program (including Summer sessions), ÉTS considers you to be continuing to study full time. However, if you have exceeded the normal length of your program and have extended your program, ACTIVIT will be considered as part time.

If your final session is a Summer session, you must limit your working to 20 hours per week, regardless of your study program, because the authorization to work full time is conditional upon the fact of also being registered for the subsequent session.

For more information, consult the Full-time students with a part-time course load in their final academic session section of the IRCC website.

IRCC has clarified the rules governing self-employment, reiterating that it is subject to the same conditions as on- or off-campus work, depending on the physical location where the self-employment is carried out.

Considering that off-campus work is limited to 20 hours / week, it is important to document all of your hours, and it is your responsibility to do so. As indicated on the IRCC website, “hours are calculated as any time you spend doing any of the following:
 

  • Earning wages;
  • Being paid wages for performing a service or selling a product;
  • Collecting a commission for performing a service or selling a product.
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 is set to expire before the end of your work-term, you must renew it before the end of the session corresponding to the work-term. You can renew your work permit at the same time as your study permit, or you can submit a separate application. To submit a first application or to renew your PGWP, follow the procedure indicated below or consult our memory aid (in French).

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.

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. You must ensure that you maintain your proper standing during the transition period between the end of your studies and obtaining your 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.

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.

Your right to begin working full-time immediately depends on your legal status at the time when you submit your application for a PGWP.

If your study permit allows you to work off campus and is valid at the time when you submit your application for a PGWP:

If you are in a situation of maintained status (in the process of renewing your previous study permit):

  • You are not eligible to work until you have obtained your work permit. As per paragraph R186(w), graduates need a valid study permit to be eligible to work full time without a work permit.

If your study permit will expire before you are able to submit an application for a PGWP:

  • You must extend your stay in Canada as a visitor, appending an explanatory letter, before your study permit expires.
  • You are not eligible to work until you have obtained your work permit.

If you do not have a legal status:

  • You have 90 days after the expiration of your study permit to apply for a PGWP and restore your status as a student, or else you must leave Canada and submit an application from abroad.
  • You are not eligible to work until you have obtained your work permit with the exception of your final session of registration for your program, and only if you have been registered as a full-time student up to that point.

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.

  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.

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

Income tax obligations and labour standards

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

Office of Student Life 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.

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.