Published on

Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

International students limited

to 24 hours of work a week in September 2024

by Michael Scott


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the government waived the 20-hour cap on work hours for international students. The waiver is set to expire, and the Liberal government has signalled an intention to limit the hours students will be able to work off-campus for up to 24 hours, beginning in September 2024.

Minister Miller is correct when he points out that the purpose of bringing in foreign students is to study. In a statement made on April 29th the Minister explained the need for restrictions on work for students.

“Looking at best practices and policies in other like-minded countries, most of them limit the number of working hours for international students. Canada's rules need to be aligned or we will find our programs attracting more and more applicants whose primary intent is to work, not study,” Miller stated. “To be clear, the purpose of the international student program is to study and not to work.”

The new limit of 24 hours per week comes as the federal government moves to control the increase in temporary residence immigration amid the pressures on the housing market. It is important that the influx of international foreign students be controlled amid the pressures on the availability of housing and the need to ensure that the study permit not become an unofficial work visa. The amount of time that students work impacts on their studies and performance levels. “We know from studies as well that when you start working in and around 30-hour levels, there is a material impact on the quality of your studies,” Miller concludes.

The minister is aware that many international students need to work off campus to meet living expenses, but his department is concerned that 80 per cent of international students are currently working more than 20 hours a week. 

The former limit of 20 hours per week will be restored at this time and the new standard of 24 hours will be implemented in September 2024. There is no limit on the numbers of hours international students can work when they are not in class, such as during the summer break.

In addition to the 24 hour a week limit on off-campus work, there is another deterrence for those international students who might apply for a study permit with the primary objective of working in Canada. The foreign student, who wishes to study in Canada, must be able to prove that they have $20,635 available for living expenses, beyond the cost of tuition. Students are not limited to 20 hours a week if they are on an academic break. However, students taking summer courses must now adhere to the old 20 hours of work a week standard.

The return to the 20 to 24 hour a week work standard is only one of the changes. Students will also have to obtain a provincial attestation letter (PAL) from the province where their designated learning institution (DLI) is located. This is part of the change in maintaining an overall cap on study permits in 2024. The federal government will impose a two-year cap on study permits for international students, expected to be around 360,000 study permits, which represents a 35 per cent reduction from 2023. The number of study permits to be issued in 2025 will be reassessed at the end of 2024.

The limits on temporary residence immigration, study permits, and work permits is something we need to become accustomed to as the present governing Liberals and opposition Conservatives work to capture the support of the Canadian public or the centre of the political spectrum. It is too easy to focus on immigration as the reason for the housing and medical services crisis. Stay tuned and watch for changes.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: