Foreign students can now work
over 20 hours per week while in class
by Michael Scott
It is important to understand that any change in the Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires Parliamentary ascent but a change in the regulations can be affected by a decision of the minister. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser just announced a new temporary measure affecting foreign students studying at post-secondary institutions across the country. The change will help address the labour shortage in the country and give foreign students the opportunity to work more hours per week off-campus while class is in session. The change in question is to IRPR (Regulations) s. 186(v) (iii) and it comes as good news to many.
The proposed change is a temporary measure at this point from November 15, 2022 to December 31, 2023. It will affect not only foreign students currently studying inside the country but also apply to those who have submitted a study permit as of this date. At this time job vacancies are reported to be 4.7 per cent nationally and this represents an increase of roughly 42.3 per cent over the same time last year. Ontario has experienced the largest increase rising 6.6 per cent to a total of 379,700 job vacancies, Nova Scotia experienced a rise of six per cent, British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Quebec saw rises between 5.6 per cent and 2.4 per cent. The only province to show a decrease in job vacancies was New Brunswick. There was no notable change in the remaining provinces and territories. Minister Fraser said his announcement was primarily intended to help fill some of these vacancies.
At this time, international students who apply to study in an eligible Canadian education program, at a designated learning institution, may get authorization to work 20 hours off-campus (see IRPR s.86(v)(iii) above) so the limits are being relaxed. It represents a boon to the international students and will help them meet some of their expenses while they study in Canada. However, the increased work is not anticipated to affect their studies adversely. All student permit holders have a first responsibility to meet the demands of their course of studies. They must remain good students in order to maintain their status inside the country.
Minister Fraser was quick to point out that his measure will allow over 500,000 eligible international students to potentially work more hours. The country remains one of the choice destinations for foreign students. In 2021 Canada issued nearly 450,000 new study permits and the country is on target to increase this number dramatically. Between January and August of this year IRCC reported an increase of 23 per cent and Canada is set to break the record it reached in 2021. The majority of students indicate an interest in remaining in Canada following graduation, so international foreign students are an important and continuing way for the country to meet its labour shortages and grow the economy. We need policies and practices that assist the foreign student in becoming established in Canada and the increase in hours worked per week is an improvement but not the only answer and should not come at the expense of the student’s primary purpose as a temporary resident, which is to pass, graduate, and then, hopefully, enter the Canadian labour market and obtain permanent residence status.
The other programs of immigration such as the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) are all intended to make it easier to transition temporary resident’s students to permanent residents of the country. The PGWP holders usually transition through the Express Entry, Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program or through the various Provincial Nominee Programs. At both the national and provincial level, authorities are trying to retain the foreign students and enhance the country’s reputation as a choice destination.
Minister Fraser has a mandate from the prime minister to identify additional ways to assist the international students inside the country. The minister announced the five pillars in September such as modernizing the immigration system to improve processing times and reduce backlogs. We will all gain more insights into the government’s plan to address the immigration needs of the country and the vacancy crisis when the ruling Liberals table their new Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2015 in early November. The changes will affect more than international foreign students and the number of hours they can work off campus while in class.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.