Please note the information provided below is not legal advice and is intended for general information purposes only. For the most up to date information please see the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) webpage.
Many international students at BCIT are eligible to work during their studies as long as they maintain full-time academic status. However, the eligibility requirements for working on-campus are different than for working off-campus. It is very important to understand government regulations since participating in unauthorized work is an offense in Canada.
Study permits & authorization to work
While most foreign nationals wanting to work in Canada would require a work permit, international students who hold a valid study permit and remain enrolled full-time may be authorized to work during their studies without needing to have a work permit.
In order to be authorized to work in Canada as a study permit holder, your permit must have a condition/remark which indicates that you “may work” or “may accept employment” on and/or off campus. Some common examples include:
- May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies (on-campus work only).
- May work 20 hrs per week off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR (off-campus work only).
- May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria (on and/or off campus).
If you do not have one of these conditions/remarks on your study permit, then you will need to request an International Confirmation of Enrolment letter and either:
- Change the conditions of your study permit if the condition/remark on your study permit states “this permit does not permit the holder to engage in off campus employment in Canada” and your program has changed and you are now eligible to work (for example you were in ISEP/an ESL school then transferred to BCIT); or
- Request to amend your study permit if your study permit does not have one of the above conditions/remarks.
It’s important to understand that a co-op work permit is required in addition to a study permit for any student with a work component that is a mandatory part of their program at BCIT, such as a co-op, internship, or industry project.
Social Insurance Numbers (SIN)
Before starting to work, it’s important to understand Social Insurance Numbers (SIN). A “SIN number” — as they are commonly referred to in Canada — is a 9 digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. If you meet all other eligibility requirements to work in Canada, you will also need to apply for a SIN number before working.
See Social Insurance Number – Overview on the Government of Canada website for more information.
Most BCIT students who are enrolled full-time are eligible to work any number of hours on any campus where their program is based, without needing a work permit. However, it is important to note that you can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.
See Work on campus on the IRCC website for more information.
Many international students who are enrolled full-time in an academic program may be eligible to work off campus up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
During regularly scheduled breaks from a program, international students may be permitted to work off campus full-time as long as they maintain a full-time course load in the term before and after the break.
In the final term of study only, a student who was previously enrolled full-time may be eligible to continue to working up to 20 hours per week while taking a part-time course load.
English language programs such as the International Student Entry Program (ISEP) are not considered “academic programs,” meaning that students in these programs are not eligible to work off campus.
See Work off campus as an international student on the IRCC website for full eligibility requirements and details.
IRCC restrictions regarding work during schedules breaks
BCIT’s definition of scheduled breaks can be found on the Academic Status page.
It is important to note that IRCC limits off-campus work during scheduled breaks to 150 consecutive days, even if the break is longer. Taking into account all regularly scheduled breaks, students may only work off campus on a full-time basis for a total of 180 days during each calendar year.
See Study Permits: Off-campus work for more information.
In Canada, certain types of volunteer activities may be considered “work” even if no compensation is provided. This means that authorization to work in the form of a work permit or study permit (as outlined above) could be required.
For more information, see Volunteer work conducted by foreign students: When is a work permit and an ESDC confirmation required?
Spousal work permit
The spouse or common-law partner of a BCIT student with a full-time academic status may be eligible to apply for an open work permit.
See Help your spouse or common-law partner work in Canada for details.
Working after graduation
Many BCIT students may be eligible to stay in Canada and work after completing their program(s). To learn more, see Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) and make sure to review the Work eligibility before and after submitting a PGWP application section on that page.
We also recommend to visit Stay in Canada after graduation on the IRCC website.