UW Immigration

International students in Canada face new limit on work hours this fall

International students can now work off campus up to 24 hours per week, instead of the 40 hours they were allowed to work throughout the academic year, as of this fall.

The federal government will reinstate the weekly work-hour cap, which was reduced during the epidemic to enable international students, according to Immigration Minister Marc Miller. This will lessen the financial pressure that students suffered due to growing living expenses and help Canada’s employment shortage.

During a scrum on Monday, Miller told reporters, “It was a successful measure in helping our economy recover from the pandemic and is therefore no longer necessary.” “Let me be clear: studying is the main goal of the international student program—working is not.”

Being able to work off campus has grown to be a significant draw for overseas students studying in Canada. Not only may they work to help pay for their education, but they can also gain the experience they need in the workplace that may lead to permanent residency.

Over 900,000 international students enrolled in Canada last year, a threefold increase in enrollment in the past ten years. Employers in Canada have become accustomed to using students to staff gig work, low-paying fast food restaurants, retail stores, warehouses, and factories.

Although students can now work three full shifts a week due to the 24-hour work restriction, activist Jaspreet Singh noted that this may present issues for individuals who work in the large warehouses. The 20-hour work restriction was implemented prior to the outbreak. This is a result of the four-day work week that many of these firms have implemented, with ten hours per shift.

The president of the International Sikh Student Association stated, “The 20-hour (limit) was a problem because employers don’t usually offer a half-shift, and students didn’t want to break the law by working a third full shift.” She also mentioned that the majority of study permit holders would have preferred a 30-hour weekly work rule.

International students were only allowed to work off campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week prior to the epidemic. More than 80% of students worked more than 20 hours after the cap was lifted, according to Miller. Raising the cap by a mere four hours will enable them to work three eight-hour shifts every week.

“Working longer hours while enrolled in post-secondary education can result in a decline in academic performance and a higher chance of program dropout,” he clarified. “We must ensure that international students are prepared for success and provide them with support.”

International students and holders of post-graduation work permits make up a portion of the temporary resident population that the Trudeau government has been under intense pressure to reduce due to public backlash against high immigration levels and concerns about the impact on affordable housing.

Some students have experienced financial hardship due to rising housing and rent expenses, similar to many Canadians, and are searching for more work hours. Community food banks have become a source of support for some.

Miller has changed a lot of things since taking over as immigration minister, such as capping the quantity of study permits granted to each province at two years in order to slow down the program’s explosive expansion.

“It would have been unduly burdensome to reduce it to 20 hours or even more,” Miller said. “Students that want to come here have to realize that they can only work 24 hours, right, in order to offset some of their costs or bring the material resources themselves.”

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