International students in Canada will be allowed to work only 24 hours a week from September

Ottawa, Apr 30 (PTI) International students, including those from India, in Canada, will be able to work off-campus for only up to 24 hours per week starting in September, according to a new rule that will come into effect from Tuesday.

“The temporary policy allowing students to work more than 20 hours per week off campus will come to an end on April 30, 2024, and it will not be extended,” Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said in a press release issued on Monday.

“This fall, we intend to change the number of hours students may work off campus per week to 24 hours,” he said as the Canadian government clamps down on a surge in international student enrolments across the country.

The Liberal Party-led government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau temporarily waived the 20-hour cap on work hours for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to ease labour shortages facing the country. That waiver expires on Tuesday, CTV News reported.

Canada is one of the most sought-after destinations for Indian students. According to a 2022 report of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), there were 3,19,130 Indian students in Canada. In both colleges and universities based in Canada, Indians hold the majority of seats among international students.

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.

“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 the US and Canada have shown that there is a considerable decline in academic performance for students working more than 28 hours per week, and that working more than 24 hours per week increases the chances that a student will drop out of their programme, the press release underlined.

Most countries that welcome international students set limits on the number of hours they may work while they study. Australia recently changed its policy to allow a student to work 48 hours every 2 weeks. In the US, students must meet additional criteria before being permitted to work off campus at all, the release noted.

In December 2023, the Canadian government raised the cost-of-living threshold that students must meet to be approved for a study permit so they are financially prepared for life in Canada and are not as dependent on working.

International students who begin a college programme delivered through a public-private curriculum licensing arrangement on or after May 15, 2024, will not be eligible for a post-graduation work permit when they graduate. Those who already started this type of programme prior to May 15, 2024, will still be able to access a post-graduation work permit, provided they meet all other criteria, the release said.

According to a report, the new work limit comes as the federal government clamps down on a surge in international student enrolments across Canada.

Critics have warned that allowing international students to work full-time could turn a study permit into an unofficial work visa, which would undermine its purpose, it said.