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Explainer: Canada’s measure to let international students work over 20 hours


More than 6 lakh international students in Canada took a sigh of relief on Friday, as Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a major reform for international students in Canada. The government decided to temporarily lift the 20-hour work restriction for international students from 15 November 2022 until 31 December 2023, in order to deal with the historic labor shortages in Canada.

What was the 20-hour work restriction?

International students who apply to study in an eligible Canadian education institution may be allowed to work off-campus for up to 20 hours per week during their studies. No student can work more than 20 hours if he/she is enrolled in an active educational program in the country.

During scheduled breaks, such as the summer and winter holidays, this restriction is lifted.

Why this 20-hour work restriction?

Canada is a developed country with expensive education and a high cost of living. Many students from developing countries arrive in Canada with the intention of having a better education and lifestyle. They can’t afford their education without working and some even send remittances to their families to financially support them.

This policy is aimed at allowing international students to support themselves financially while also ensuring that they focus on finishing their studies rather than working in Canada.

Why restriction is temporarily lifted now?

Canada is dealing with historic labor shortages as well as a historically low unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in September, down from 5.4 percent in August. The country is facing nearly one million job vacancies, impacting its economy at the time of global economic crises.

The move will allow over 500,000 eligible international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.

Why study in Canada?

Canada is one of the top destinations for international students in the world. The country hosted over 620,000 international students in 2021, a figure that has tripled in the last two decades. Last year, Canada issued nearly 450,000 new study permits.

The quality of the country’s educational institutions, multiculturalism, the affordability of the Canadian dollar, and the country’s work and permanent residence opportunities all contribute to the country’s high preference among students.


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