Working in Canada: A Guide for International Students

Many international students choose Canada as their destination for higher education due to its excellent education system and work opportunities. However, navigating the process of working in Canada can take time and effort. In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about working in Canada as an international student.

Getting a work permit

If you are an international student studying in Canada, you can work on or off campus without a work permit. Nevertheless, there are some limitations on the number of hours you can work. During the academic year, you can work up to 20 hours per week, while during scheduled breaks like winter and summer holidays, you can work full-time.

If you want to work off-campus, you must apply for a work permit. To be eligible for a work permit, you must:

  • have a valid study permit
  • be enrolled in a full-time program at a designated learning institution
  • have been studying for at least six months
  • have an excellent academic standing
  • be able to demonstrate that the work is essential to your financial support or the completion of your studies

After fulfilling the requirements, you may proceed with your application for a work permit. The application process can be done online or by mail, and the processing time will vary based on the type of work permit you are applying for. It is highly recommended that you apply as soon as possible since the processing time can take several weeks.

Types of work permits

There are two types of work permits that international students can apply for:

  1. Co-op work permit

A co-op work permit allows international students to work in a job that is directly related to their field of study. This type of work permit is required for co-op or internship programs that are a part of your academic program.

To apply for a co-op work permit, you need to provide a letter from your school that confirms the requirement for a work placement as a part of your academic program. You can apply for a co-op work permit at the same time as your study permit application or after you have received your study permit.

  1. Post-graduation work permit

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows international students to work in Canada after they complete their studies. This type of work permit is valid for up to three years, depending on the length of your study program.

To be eligible for a PGWP, you must have completed a full-time program at a designated learning institution that is at least eight months long. You must also apply for the PGWP within 180 days of receiving your final marks.

Working after graduation

After you complete your studies, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency in Canada. The Canadian government offers several programs for international students to become permanent residents, including the Express Entry system, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP).

To be eligible for these programs, you must meet specific criteria, such as language proficiency, education, work experience, and age. It is essential to research these programs and their requirements well in advance to increase your chances of being eligible.

Tips for finding a job

Finding a job in Canada can be challenging, especially for international students who are new to the country. Here are some tips to help you find a job:

  1. Start early

It is essential to start your job search early, preferably before you arrive in Canada. Research potential employers and job opportunities in your field of study, and prepare your resume and cover letter.

  1. Network

Networking is an effective way to find a job in Canada. Attend career fairs, join professional associations, and connect with alumni from your school. You can also reach out to your professors and ask for their advice and referrals.

  1. Use job search engines

There are several job search engines that you can use to find job opportunities in Canada, such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. These websites allow you to search for jobs by location, industry, and keywords.

  1. Apply for co-op programs

Co-op programs are a great way to gain work experience in Canada while you are still studying. Universities and colleges often offer these programs and provide students with practical work experience in their field of study.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is another way to gain work experience and build your network in Canada. Look for volunteer opportunities in your community or on campus, and consider volunteering in your field of study.

Rights and responsibilities

As an international student working in Canada, you have the same rights and responsibilities as Canadian workers. These rights include the right to a safe work environment, fair wages, and protection from discrimination and harassment.

Being aware of your responsibilities as an employee in Canada is important. These responsibilities include showing up to work on time, following workplace policies and procedures, and treating your co-workers with due respect.


If you work in Canada, you must pay taxes on your income. However, the amount of tax you pay depends on how much you earn and your tax status in Canada.

International students who work in Canada are generally considered residents for tax purposes. This means you will be taxed on your worldwide income, including any income you earn outside Canada.

It is important to file your taxes on time to avoid penalties and to receive any tax refunds you may be entitled to.


Working in Canada as an international student can be a great way to gain valuable work experience and earn money to support yourself while you study. However, it is important to be aware of the requirements for working in Canada, including obtaining a work permit and following Canadian employment laws and regulations.

By following the tips in this guide, you can increase your chances of finding a job in Canada and take advantage of the many opportunities that this country has to offer. Remember to stay informed and take advantage of the resources available to you, such as your school’s career centre and alumni network. With hard work and perseverance, you can achieve your goals of working and studying in Canada.