International student arrested for working too many hours

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Jobandeep Sandhu, who worked as a truck driver while going to school, was arrested and could soon be deported.

On December 13, 2017, while driving a commercial vehicle between Montreal and Toronto, Sandhu, 22, was pulled over by an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer at the side of Highway 401 for a “routine traffic stop,” a report said.

A few moments later Sandhu was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back seat of an OPP squad car.

A police background check showed Sandhu had no criminal history at the time of his arrest.

His driver’s logbook showed he was exceeding the maximum number of hours an international student in Canada is allowed to work each week.

Under current rules, international students in Canada can work up to 20 hours a week “off campus” without a separate work visa. During scheduled breaks, including summers, foreign students are allowed to work full time.

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But the cost of living plus the high cost of tuition forced Sandhu to work more in order to remain in school.

His parents, who covered his first semester’s tuition, had exhausted their savings and were facing pressure to pay back loans from private money lenders in India, Sandhu said.

When Sandhu first arrived in Canada, he did not work, he said. He then got a job part time, working only occasionally. But when he switched colleges and his schedule changed, he started working full time as a truck driver — roughly 35 to 40 hours a week.

With the money he earned, Sandhu said he paid tuition and expenses and helped support his brother, who had also come to Canada as an international student.

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In a written statement, a spokesperson for the government said Sandhu’s study permit authorized him to work 20 hours a week while going to school.

The spokesperson also referenced a report from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) created on the day of Sandhu’s arrest that said he was “inadmissible” to Canada for breaking the terms of his study permit, noting that this decision was upheld by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board in a March 2018 hearing.

Sandhu has applied to IRCC for a temporary resident permit. If accepted, he will be allowed to stay. If not, he said CBSA told him he must go back to India no later than May 31.

The government also said the primary activity of study permit holders in Canada must be to study.

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“Limiting off-campus work to 20 hours per week while class is in session reflects that (policy) while continuing to offer the opportunity to gain valuable workplace experience in Canada and earn some money,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) spokesperson Béatrice Fénelon.

There are literally hundreds of international students working way more than the permitted 20 hours a week. Many work off the book for cash so they cannot end up breaking the law. This really allows business owners to take advantage of international students. And there are enough international students who’ve come here primarily to work and get right down to it by choosing courses that require the minimum amount of time in the classroom. -CINEWS

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