International Students Will No Longer be Permitted to Work More than 20 Hours Per Week While Studying

Updated December 8, 2023: The federal government has delayed this change until May 1, 2024. The restrictions on hours for international students in Canada will take effect as of May 1, 2024 — not January 1, 2024, as previously reported.

Changes to government policy are coming fast. Expect that new announcements will be made before the May 1, 2024 deadline.

The good news is if you're an international student working in Canada, your maximum work hours will not be capped as of January 1. You'll have the rest of the winter term to work as much as you like. When we learn more about the new limits, we'll update you further.

The original article is below.

Canada's experiment with allowing international students to work more than 20 hours per week during the school year is coming to an end.

What was the pilot project?

The pilot project started in 2022 (see our article from October of last year), to explore giving international students more flexibility to decide when and how much they wanted to work while studying in Canada.

The program is slated to end on December 31, 2023 — just about four weeks from now — and the government has no plans to extend it.

What does this mean for me?

This means that as of January 1, 2024, the old rules will be back in force: international students will be restricted to working a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school year.

Students will be permitted to work more than 20 hours per week during scheduled holidays when classes are not in session, as well as during summer breaks.

Still, this change may hit international students during a period of inflation where the cost of just about everything is going up. International undergraduate students already pay nearly $40,000 CAD per year for degree programs (though this figure is lower for students in college or career college programs), according to Statistics Canada. International students must prove they have the funds required to study in Canada in order to receive a study permit, but the cost of living can be so high that students need at least one part-time job just to stay afloat.

The purpose of post-secondary education is just that — education — so focusing on your studies, instead of part-time work, is ideal. Economic circumstances can make this more difficult than it should be.

Will the government reverse course on this decision?

There's always a chance the government will change their position and extend the program beyond its closing date of December 31, 2023, but there's no evidence that will happen. So, if you're already studying in Canada, work as many hours as you can over the next month, and take advantage of holidays and session breaks where possible. Things could get more difficult come January.

We'll keep you updated on news as it develops. Best of luck.

Updated December 8, 2024: In case you missed it above, this change has been delayed from January 1, 2024, to May 1, 2024. Expect further announcements as we get closer to May, but please be aware that as of January 1, 2024, there is no cap on working hours for international students in Canada.

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