Is it your dream to study abroad? Perhaps in Canada? Canada issues tens of thousands of study permits to international students every year and maybe you will be one of them!
There are many benefits to being a full time student at a Canadian college or university in addition to the future advantages you will gain by having a top-quality Canadian education. The government of Canada has several incentives to attract international students to study at Canadian colleges and universities, and here we will describe some of these benefits.
Just to note: The options detailed in this article apply to international students completing a program of post-secondary study in Canada with their study permit. Students enrolled in English as a Second Language programs are not eligible for these benefits, even if they have a study permit.
Can I work in Canada while studying?
Yes, as an international student with a study permit, you can work while studying. Obviously, this will help offset the cost of study in Canada.
Many students get jobs on the campus of the university or college where they are studying. There are no restrictions on the number of hours that international students can work on campus.
For off campus work, there are some restrictions. Until recently, you could only work off campus up to 20 hours per week during your school sessions, and full-time during school breaks. Post-secondary schools usually break for a few weeks over Christmas and 4 months each summer, giving international students considerable time to work to help pay your living expenses in Canada, and maybe improve your language skills at the same time!
A new temporary policy is currently in place for off campus work for the remainder of 2023. It started November 15, 2022 and will continue until December 31, 2023. This policy allows an international student already here who applied for their study permit (or extension) before Oct. 7, 2022 to work more than 20 hours per week off campus while class is in session. There are a few conditions, the main one being they have proof of enrolment in full-time studies at a Designated Leaning Institution (DLI). This temporary measure is seen as a way for the Canadian government to help employers who are still struggling to recover from the pandemic.
Is my partner able to work in Canada?
Yes, assuming they go through the application process and are approved for a visa – all the usual requirements apply to their application for things like supporting documents and admissibility checks.
They are eligible for an open work permit as the spouse of an international student. With an open work permit, your partner can work in almost any job, without the Canadian employer needing any special permission to hire them. This makes it much easier to get a job in Canada and can help offset the costs of your tuition, housing and living expenses while you study in Canada.
Many international students are also hoping to qualify for immigration some day and become permanent residents. Although that is a dream of many, it is important to understand that there are far more international students in Canada than there are spots in the immigration programs available. So it is important to be realistic, but to try and access opportunities that will increase your chances if that is your goal.
For instance, your spouse or partner may qualify sooner than you would, and it worth starting to explore this soon in Canada. Always, the options for immigration will vary depending on which Province you study in, but your partner may be able to begin the process of applying for Permanent Residence by virtue of their own work background even while you are still completing your studies.
Can my child go to Public School In Canada?
Yes, a minor child of an international student who accompanies them to Canada can access the education system in Canada. Students can complete Grade 12 in the public school system, usually without paying international student fees.
Can I expect to get a Post Grad Work Permit when I graduate?
Yes. One of the most significant benefits of studying in Canada is obtaining the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after you graduate from a Canadian program of study.
A post-grad work permit is an open work permit. This means you can work in almost any job and the employer does not need any special permission to hire you, just the work permit.
But first, before you pay the tuition for your program, make sure the program of study actually qualifies for the PGWP at the end. The PGWP is run by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and they have rules for which programs will qualify. Most programs at public colleges and universities in Canada will qualify, but some programs in smaller colleges do not. You have every right to expect this is made very clear to prospective students, especially if you are attending a lesser known college or university, and you should get it confirmed in writing. Sadly, every year there are stories in the media about international students who finished their studies only to learn when they graduate that their program is not eligible for the PGWP.
How long is a post-grad work permit?
The duration of your post-grad work permit will depend on how long you studied and which post-secondary program you completed.
Post-grad work permits are issued for a period of 1-3 years.
If your program was one academic year in length, you are entitled to a 1-year work permit. If your program of study was 2 or more academic years in length, you are entitled to a 3-year work permit. In some cases, it is possible to study two programs of 1 year in length in order to obtain a 3-year post-grad work permit.
Essential information about the post-grad work permit
There are some key points that are very important to understand about a post-grad work permit. First of all, you can only obtain a post-grad work permit once in your lifetime. Even if you return to school and take another program of study, you cannot obtain a second post-grad work permit. So it’s important to carefully think through your future plans when contemplating your educational pathway in Canada.
The second point is that a 1-year post-grad work permit is not usually enough to enable you to qualify for Permanent Residence in Canada. You will only start to become eligible for most PR pathways after you have worked a full 12 months in Canada, usually in a skilled occupation. In most cases, it will take you longer than a year to find a job, complete the 12 months of work experience and make an application for PR. For that reason, if you have even the slightest interest in living in Canada on a permanent basis, a minimum 2-year program of study is recommended so you can get the 3 year PGWP which gives a lot of flexibility.
International students generally have many more possibilities to qualify for permanent residence if they can obtain skilled work experience with their PGWP, as the Express Entry program focuses on skilled occupations.
The final point relates to those of you with a spouse or common-law partner, and their status once you get a PGWP. If they have accompanied you to Canada while you have been studying, they received an open work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of an international student. Their work permit will expire at the same time as your study permit expires. However, as of January 30, 2023 they can renew their open work permit as the spouse or partner of a PGWP holder.
Consulting with a professional when dreaming about studying in Canada will ensure that you position yourself to maximize the immigration opportunities that are available to international students in Canada. The Way Immigration has a long history of working with international students from the start of their journey overseas, through the process of obtaining permanent residence, and eventually Canadian Citizenship. Contact our experts today to begin your journey to study in Canada!