Employers Beware – Off-campus Work Hours Change For International Students On May 1, 2024

MLT Aikins LLP


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As of May 1, 2024, the temporary policy that allowed international students to work full-time off-campus will end.
Canada Immigration
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As of May 1, 2024, the temporary policy that allowed international students to work full-time off-campus will end. This policy initially began as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and enabled certain international students to work off-campus full-time, beyond the standard cap of 20 hours per week.

As the policy was not extended, employers should be aware that, as of May 1, 2024, international student employees may only be eligible to work a maximum of 20 hours per week when their study program is in session, unless they hold an alternative work authorization. Students will still be permitted to work full-time during regularly-scheduled study program breaks, provided they are returning to full-time studies following the break. Any other full-time work would require alternative authorization.

Jobs commonly occupied by students

This may lead to a decrease in labor availability, particularly in sectors that have been heavily reliant on student workers such as the hospitality, service and retail industries. These sectors – which are already facing labour shortages – may see further challenges as a result of this policy shift. Employers who have relied on international students and the policy to fill full-time roles should review to ensure employment is adjusted to reflect the reversion back to the standard rules on study permit-based international student work.

Recent changes to the international students program

The temporary policy allowing for full-time work was part of a series of reforms to the International Student Program. In addition to the policy, the federal government announced new measures to protect international students from increasing instances of fraud, including the introduction of a new verification process for letters of acceptance, a recognition framework for high-quality institutions, reforms to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and an increased cost-of-living funds requirement for prospective international students. These changes were made with an aim to increase available protections for international students and to ensure these students are able to meet their needs while in Canada. Many international students and their employers will be find it difficult to adjust to the reduction back to part-time work eligibility.

International students remain a benefit to Canada

According to the federal government, international education accounts for more than $22 billion in economic activity annually, greater than Canada's exports of auto parts, lumber or aircraft. The sector supports more than 200,000 jobs in Canada. The temporary drop in international students in 2020, during the pandemic, resulted in a loss of more than $7 billion for Canada's gross domestic product that year.

The end of the full-time off-campus work policy marks a return to pre-pandemic regulations for international students in Canada. While this may impact labor availability in certain industries, it is a reminder of the valuable role that international students play in our economy.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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