Starting today, international students in Canada will be able to work more hours along with their university courses.

Canada has temporarily lifted its 20-hour-a-week limit on the number of hours international students can work off-campus, to address the critical labor shortage that has been crippling the country since the pandemic.

The new measure means that the 500,000 international students already in Canada are allowed to work more hours and there are no restrictions on the type of employment a student can opt for.

The new policy will only apply to students studying full-time and will be in effect from November 15 through the end of 2023.

Students have said the 20-hour cap made them vulnerable to exploitation because many end up working longer hours without protections.

You are allowed to work while studying in Canada if you:
Hold a valid study permit
Are studying full-time at a designated learning institution
Are studying in an academic, vocational, or professional training program that is at least six months in duration and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate
Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Canada’s job vacancy rate fell to 5.2 percent this September, down from a peak of 6.0% in April 2022. Canadian employers were actively looking to fill nearly 1 million jobs as of July.

“There’s more job opportunities than there are workers in almost every community in Canada,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said early in November, adding that while some international students will work in service jobs, he hopes some will find employment in their field of study.

Fraser said lifting the cap will give students a greater choice of employment opportunities, making them less likely to fall victim to “unscrupulous employers.”

“That will actually create a better opportunity for students to not fall victim to an individual employer they may be beholden to.”

Fraser also announced a pilot project to automate some approvals of study permit extension applications, meant to address a backlog.

Canada has become increasingly dependent on temporary residents, including international students, to fill its labor force needs.

Advocates and economists say this creates a precarious workforce and can depress wages and working conditions for all employees.

The growth in temporary residents has been especially steep for students coming from abroad to study. Canada has become an increasingly sought-after destination for international students who often come with the intent of eventually obtaining permanent residency.