Canada tightens work limits for international students: Only 24 hours per week allowed

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International students, including those from India, studying in Canada will be restricted to working off-campus for a maximum of 24 hours per week starting in September, as per a new regulation set to take effect from Tuesday.

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, announced in a press release on Monday that the temporary policy permitting students to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus will conclude on April 30, 2024, and will not be extended. "This fall, we intend to change the number of hours students may work off campus per week to 24 hours," he stated, as the Canadian government responds to a surge in international student enrolments nationwide.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberal Party-led government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, temporarily lifted the 20-hour cap on work hours for international students to alleviate labour shortages in the country. However, this waiver expires on Tuesday, according to a report by CTV News.

Indian students: Major presence in Canadian education
Canada remains a highly sought-after destination for Indian students, with a significant majority of seats in both colleges and universities occupied by Indian students, as highlighted in a 2022 report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), which recorded 319,130 Indian students in Canada.

Prioritizing studies: Focus on academic pursuits
Miller said students who come to Canada must be here to study. As such, allowing students to work up to 24 hours per week will ensure they focus primarily on their studies, while having the option to work, if necessary.

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Working off campus helps international students gain work experience and offset some of their expenses. As international students arrive in Canada, we want them to be prepared for life here and have the support they need to succeed. However, first and foremost, people coming to Canada as students must be here to study, not work. We will continue working to protect the integrity of our student programme, he said.

Recent studies conducted in both the US and Canada have shown a significant decline in academic performance for students working more than 28 hours per week, with an increased risk of dropout for those working over 24 hours per week, as emphasized in the press release.

Most countries hosting international students impose limits on their work hours during studies. Australia recently revised its policy to allow students to work up to 48 hours every two weeks, while in the US, students must meet additional criteria before being permitted to work off-campus.

Crackdown on student immigration
In December 2023, the Canadian government raised the cost-of-living threshold for students applying for a study permit to ensure they are financially prepared for life in Canada and reduce dependency on employment.

Additionally, the release noted that international students commencing a college program delivered through a public-private curriculum licensing arrangement on or after May 15, 2024, will not qualify for a post-graduation work permit upon graduation. However, those who began such programs prior to this date remain eligible for the permit if they meet all other criteria.

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The implementation of the new work limit coincides with the federal government's efforts to manage the influx of international student enrolments across Canada, according to a report by

Critics have expressed concerns that permitting international students to work full-time could transform a study permit into an unofficial work visa, thereby undermining its original purpose.

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