Working while you study in Canada
Working on campus
If you have a valid study permit, you may be able to work on the campus of the institution you attend without a work permit. You can work for the institution itself, or for a private business located on the campus.
To do this, you must be a full-time student at a public university, a community college, a collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP), a publicly funded trade or technical school or a private institution authorized to confer degrees.
Working off campus
To work off campus, you must have a work permit. Through the Off-Campus Work Permit Program, you can work part-time during regular academic sessions (20 hours per week) and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as winter and summer holidays, and spring break. You can work in any occupation, and you can change employers whenever you like.
To qualify for the program, you must have a valid study permit and be a full-time student at a recognized postsecondary educational institution. Recognized institutions generally include a public, post-secondary college or university, a CEGEP in Quebec and degree-granting programs offered by private institutions.
For a list of participating institutions in the Off-Campus Work Permit Program, visit www.cic.gc.ca/institutions. Check with your institution to make sure the program that you choose is eligible.
Co-op and internship programs
If you are in a program with a work experience component, such as a co-op or internship placement, you will need a work permit as well as a study permit.
To get a work permit, you must prove that the work experience is essential to completing your program. Acceptable proof could include a letter from the school you are attending or a copy of the school curriculum.
The work experience cannot be more than 50% of your total program of study.
Working after graduation
The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows you to gain valuable Canadian work experience after you have completed your studies in Canada. This can help you apply to become a permanent resident of Canada.
To qualify, you must have graduated from a public or private institution that grants degrees recognized by the province or territory. These institutions may include a university, college or CEGEP.
Work permits under this program are valid for the length of your study program, up to a maximum of three years. For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you could be eligible for a three-year work permit. If you graduate from an eight-month certificate program, you would be eligible for a work permit that is valid for eight months.
You must apply for a post-graduation work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from your educational institution that you have met the requirements for completing your academic program.
With this permit, you can work in any occupation and change employers anytime you wish.
Work permits for spouses of students
If you are a full-time student at a recognized post-secondary institution, and you have a valid study permit, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for a permit to work in Canada. As long as they have a work permit, they can work in any occupation and change jobs at any time.
These permits are valid for the same period of time as your study permit.
Who can get a work permit as spouse or common-law partner of a student?
Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for an open work permit if you:
- are a full-time student at a:
- public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
- private college-level school in Quebec or
- Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree) and
- have a valid study permit.
How long is the open work permit valid for?
The work permit for your spouse or common-law partner is valid for the same period of time as your study permit.
How to apply
There are two ways you can apply for a spouse or common-law partner work permit:
To apply online you must have:
- access to a scanner or digital camera to make electronic copies of your documents for uploading and
- a valid credit card to pay with.
Apply on paper
1. Get the application package
The package includes the application guide and all the forms you need to fill out.
Read the guide carefully before you complete the application form. We do not refund the fee for processing your application. Make sure you are eligible for a work permit before you apply.
Photocopy the blank forms and use one as a working copy. Keep the working copy for your records.
Download and print the application package.
2. Complete application and attach documents
The application form has instructions. Read them and be sure to give us all the documents asked for. If information or documents are missing, it may delay your application. The document checklist in the application package lists all documents to include.
Answer all questions carefully, completely and truthfully. We will not process incomplete applications. We will return them to you. This will delay the application process.
3. Submit your application
The application package contains the mailing address where you must send your application.