Working in Canada

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

Full-Time Studies

Among other eligibility requirements, you must be studying full-time or be on a scheduled break to be eligible to work on or off campus during your studies. You must wait until your classes have begun before working, and must stop working when no longer meeting eligibility criteria.
For the purposes of immigration, BCIT considers international students as full-time if they are enrolled in:
Students are automatically registered in a set of courses in a term-based cohort model, and course-by-course registration is not necessary
Scheduled break(s): the period of time when there are no scheduled classes such as winter break, reading break, or summer term break
*Online/Distance courses and condensed courses (4 weeks or less) do not count towards this requirement.

Students register themselves through flexible course-by-course registration leading to a credential. Not all courses are offered each term. Only available to students with status in Canada.

Scheduled break(s): the period of time when there are no scheduled classes between terms.

*Scheduled break(s): Work during scheduled breaks is limited to 150 consecutive days, even if the break is longer, and a combined maximum of 180 days per calendar year for all breaks

Getting a Social Insurance Number

You must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before working.

Your study permit must have a condition/remark which indicates that you "may work" or "may accept employment" on and/or off campus:
  • 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

Submit an International Letter Request Form, then when you have received this letter apply to:
  • 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

If you do have one of these conditions/remarks

Go to any Service Canada office with your original study permit to request a SIN. The nearest locations near campuses are:

Working on-campus

You do not require a separate work permit, but you must meet all eligibility requirements to work on-campus.

Please see the IRCC webpage for more information on working on-campus.

BCIT on-campus employment opportunities are listed online through e-Jobs.

Working off-campus

You do not require a separate work permit, but you must meet all eligibility requirements to work off-campus

If you are studying full time, you may work up to 20 hours a week while school is in session, or full-time during a scheduled study break, if you are studying full-time before and after this period.

Please see the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada webpage for more information on working off-campus.

Information on job opportunities on and off campus is available at e-Jobs. For more information on work search resources, please see BCIT Student Employment Services.

Co-op work permit

If work (even if unpaid) is an integral part of your program and is for-credit, you must apply for a co-op work permit before beginning to work. You will need both a study permit and a separate co-op work permit.

A co-op work permit is separate from working off-campus; they are different. A co-op work permit can only be used if work is part of your academic program and it is a requirement for you to graduate, not for any other kind of work. Work must be less than 50% of the total length of the full-time program and must be directly related to your program.

If you are accepted into a full-time program with (a) co-op work term(s), apply for a study permit and a co-op work permit at the same time with your letter of acceptance. Otherwise, if you only have a study permit, submit an International Letter Request Form. When you have received this letter, apply for your co-op work permit directly with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Please note: BCIT does not issue work permits.

Unpaid work/volunteer activities

Even if you are not being paid, you might need a work permit, depending on your situation.

Please see the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada webpage for more information on when international students require a work permit.

Post-Graduation Work Permit

A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that allows eligible students to remain and work temporarily in Canada after graduating. Among other requirements, you must have continuously studied full-time in Canada in a program that is at least 8 months long and you must have a valid study permit when you submit your PGWP application. The duration of the PGWP will depend on the length of your program. IRCC may grant a minimum of eight months to a maximum of three years to work in Canada. Please check the IRCC website for a complete list of PGWP eligibility requirements and information on length of validity for a PGWP.

To begin your PGWP application process, please consult IRCC's PGWP application guide and review IRCC's document checklist for students applying for a work permit.

As stated in IRCC's document checklist, you are required to submit a "document stating that you have completed all the requirements for your program of study." This can be a final transcript or a letter from the institution. We encourage students to submit both of these documents in order to make the details of your program of study as clear as possible for IRCC officials.

To order official transcripts from BCIT, please see the instructions on the Student Records website.

To request a Letter of Verification, you must submit a completed International Letter Request Form to isc_info@bcit.ca or to the International Student Centre and also pay a $20 fee. Cash, debit, or credit card payment is accepted at the International Student Centre (ISC) Burnaby campus, ISC downtown campus or Aerospace Technology Campus. We also accept credit card payments over the phone at 604-432-8816 during business hours. Once your request and payment have been received, the letter takes 5 business days to process and will be sent to your personal and BCIT email addresses.

Please note that we can only issue a Letter of Verification to you once your graduation has be processed by Student Records. This generally takes about four weeks from your last exam. Submitting an International Letter Request Form in advance will save time since you will not have to wait another 5 business days after your graduation is processed.

In order to graduate, Students in Part-time Studies programs or modified full-time programs must submit an Application for BCIT Credential Form to Student Information and Enrolment Services (SIES). Graduation is processed automatically for students in regular, full-time programs.

Once you have submitted your PGWP application, you may be able to work full-time while waiting for a decision if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Studying on a work permit

If you only plan to take a few courses or a short program and will complete your studies within six months, you do not require a study permit.

However, if you will work towards a credential that will take longer than six months to complete you must apply for and receive a study permit before you begin your first class. You cannot study for 6 months then apply for a study permit after.

For more information, please see the Permits and Visas Page

Taxes

You may need to file a Canadian income tax return as an international student. Your income tax return has to be filed on or before April 30th for the previous year. Please see the Canada Revenue Agency website for information on filing taxes.

Your T2202A official tax receipt will be available in your MyBCIT account from the last day in February. You can use this for tax purposes. You may also have other tax slips, such as a T4 from your employer.

If you have any questions about filing taxes, contact Canada Revenue Agency.

The BCIT Student Association organizes free tax clinics for students who meet the eligibility criteria in March and April.