Canada temporarily lifting work cap for international students to meet labour shortages

International students can now work off-campus for as many hours as they want while class is in session. Ottawa is lifting the 20-hour per week cap for a limited time period that spans a little over a year.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced the change for eligible post-secondary students Friday morning.

“With the economy growing at a faster rate than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and workforce needed to fuel our growth. Immigration will be crucial to addressing our labour shortage,” Minister Fraser stated in a news release. “By allowing international students to work more while they study, we can help ease pressing needs in many sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”

From November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, international students who are in Canada and who have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will not be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. Foreign nationals who have already submitted a study permit application, as of today, will also be able to benefit from this temporary change, provided their application is approved.

The federal government says this measure will provide many international students with a greater opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada, and will increase the availability of workers to sustain the country’s Canada’s post-pandemic growth. There are 500,000 international students already in Canada available to potentially work additional hours. Study permit holders are still expected to balance their study and work commitments, as those who stop studying or reduce course loads to only study part-time are not eligible to work off-campus.

This month, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also launching a pilot project to automate the processing of study permit extensions. The types of applications being included in this pilot have a consistently high approval rate, as all applicants have previously been approved to study in Canada. The pilot will involve a small group of applicants who could see their extended study permit processed much faster, with the goal of improving client service. Should the pilot be successful, it will be expanded in order to help reduce processing times and allow officers to focus on more complex applications.

The latest announcement is part of a series of initiatives that aim to benefit international students and graduates, while supporting Canada’s broader efforts to improve client service and application processing times, IRCC said in a statement.

Other measures recently launched to benefit international students and recent graduates include a transition period for those studying online from abroad and an opportunity for those with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits to get an additional 18-month open work permit.

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