Working in Canada: Opportunities and Requirements

Recent changes to Study Permit Conditions & Termination of Off-Campus Work Permits.

As of June 1, 2014, CIC has terminated the Off-Campus Work Permit Program (OCWPP). Qualified international students in a Designated Learning Institute are now authorized to work off-campus without a Work Permit. For detailed information on this new policy change, please refer to CIC's website. NOTE: York University's Designated Learning Institute (DLI) number is O19361109242. The first character is an alpha character "O" as in "Ontario".

Beginning February 21, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration will be introducing a new fee of $100 for “open work permit” applications. This will include the Post-Graduation Work Permit for eligible international students, which is an open work permit of up to 3 years, provided a student’s program of study is at least 2 years or more upon graduation. This new fee of $100.00 is in addition to the $155.00 work permit processing fee which will be paid at the same time and can be paid online.
For more information on this update, please visit Citizenship and Immigration's website and scroll down to “New fee for open work permit applicants”.

On or off campus work authorization on a study permit

A valid study permit may be amended if one of the following conditions/remarks does not appear on the document:

  • May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies
  • May work 20 hrs off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR
  • 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

Note: If you have a valid study permit but it does NOT state that you "may accept employment" or "may work" in Canada, but you are eligible to work on- and off-campus (e.g. you are studying full-time for immigration purposes in a degree, diploma or certificate program at York), you must:

  1. Obtain a "Proof of Enrolment" from York University.
  2. As of February 2, 2015, CIC will cease accepting “Confirmation to work off campus” document requests. Students may apply for an amendment to their study permit if they wish to have the work authorization printed on their study permit.

To be eligible for a Social Insurance Number, Service Canada requires international students to present a valid study permit with work authorization. (Students who arrived prior to June, 1, 2014 whose Study Permits do not have work authorization must request an amendment to their Study Permit if they want to obtain a SIN card.)

The Request to Amend can only be submitted by mail and according to the CIC.

International Student Employment Requirements

Off-Campus Employment Requirements

To work off-campus, an international student must:

  • have a valid Study Permit (see "Alert" box at top of this page for more details)
  • be a full-time student
  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level
  • be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) (See details below)

International students cannot work off campus if they are:

  • Participating in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program funded by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).
  • Participating in a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by DFAIT.
  • Receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
  • Participating in the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program, Canada-Chile.
  • Participating in the Canada-China Scholars Exchanges Program.
  • Participating in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program.
  • Registered in either an English as a Second Language or French as a Second Language program
  • A visiting or exchange student without a study permit.

On-Campus Employment Requirements & International Student Employment Fund (ISEF)

Full-time international and exchange students with a valid study permit can work on-campus at York (see "Alert" box at top of this page for more details). You are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while registered as a full-time student, and work full time during academic scheduled break.

    • A work permit is not required for on campus employment.
    • A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required for all people who work in Canada. See details below.

The International Student Employment Fund (ISEF) provides funding to York University departments and units that are able to offer employment to international students.

International students who would like an ISEF-funded position must complete two steps:

Students first apply to ISEF through York International. Eligibility for ISEF positions will be determined by reviewing a completed ISEF application form. Please complete and submit this form online.

Approved students can then apply to departments directly for available positions. Listings are posted on York's Career Centre website. See "Find a job"

Please note that if a student's status changes from international to Permanent Resident, the student is no longer eligible for ISEF effective the date of PRC status change.

Social Insurance Number (SIN): required to work in Canada

This section provides an overview of a SIN. For the most current information about Social Insurance Numbers, please visit Service Canada's website.

What is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

An international student is required to obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work in Canada. The SIN allows an employer to process payroll while informing the Canadian Revenue Agency of the amount of money a person earns.

How to obtain a SIN?

If an international student has received a job offer, the student must apply for a SIN a within 3 days after the start of the employment.

Study Permit Requirements to Obtain a SIN

A valid study permit may be amended if one of the following conditions/remarks does NOT appear on the document:

  • May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies
  • May work 20 hrs off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR
  • 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

If your study permit does not have one of the above conditions or remarks, you must submit a request for an amendment to your study permit before you can apply for a SIN.

As of February 2, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is no longer issuing confirmation to work  documents. If you were previously issued a confirmation to work off campus document by CIC, you may continue to present it to Service Canada in order to apply for a SIN.

To obtain a SIN if you have been offered a job on-Campus at York:

1. Obtain Confirmation of Employment on Campus. This document:

  • Must be original.
  • Must use the college or university letterhead.
  • Must indicate that the work is located on campus.
  • Must include the employer's name and telephone number.
  • Must be signed by the university or college official.
  • Must include the student's name.

2. Provide proof of full-time post-secondary enrollment:

  • May be original or a printed copy from an electronic format.
  • Must use the university or college letterhead.
  • Must include the student’s name.

Note: The confirmation of employment on campus and the proof of enrollment may be included in the same document.

Note: If your on-campus employer has questions about the process for hiring an international student, detailed information can be found on CIC’s website (English/Français).

To obtain a SIN if you have been offered a job off campus, you must:

  • have a valid Study Permit, or have applied for a Study Permit prior to June 1, 2014
  • have a confirmation of enrollment from York University
  • Obtain an amendment of your Study Permit (if it doesn't have authorization to employment)
  • Have a valid passport

Where are the nearest Service Canada Locations to York University?

      • Joseph Shepherd Building - 14900 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON.
      • Lawrence Square - (close to Glendon Campus) Suite 103-105, 700 Lawrence Ave West, Toronto, ON.

For more information about SINs, please check Service Canada's website.

You can find a list of all Service Canada offices online (English/Français).

Sample Employment Contract for International Students

Preparing an Employment Contract for an International Student

The following lists the policy/requirements as requested by Service Canada for international students with only a study permit. The contract must:

  • State the job offered
  • State the student’s study permit document number, date signed and expiry date
  • Clearly identify York as the employer (e.g. letterhead)
  • Indicate the start and end dates of the employment
  • Contain the employer’s name, telephone number and other contact information
  • Be signed by both the employer and student
  • State that the student has accepted the job offer

Note: A letter containing this information also constitutes a contract and is therefore acceptable.

  • The attached contract template, ‘On Campus Employment Contract for International Students’, has been approved by Service Canada as a suitable employment contract for Social Insurance Number (SIN) applications. These steps must be followed:
  1. Complete the form with student’s info and hiring department’s info.
  2. Print on the hiring department’s letterhead.
  3. Supervisor and student must both sign.
  4. Student retains original copy of the contract to apply for SIN. A confirmation will be given to the student indicating the SIN number and expiry date.
  • For more information on SIN applications for international students or hiring an international student at York University, you may contact York International office at:Phone: (416)-736-5177
    Fax: (416)736-5176

Changing from Full-time to Part-time Studies

If you drop courses and your academic status changes from being a full-time to a part-time student, you will lose the ability to work on-campus. It is important to fully understand the consequences of changing to part-time status before making the change. Come speak to an advisor at York International before making a final decision about a change of status.

What Is A Full-Time Student?

An undergraduate student Is considered full-time if they are enrolled in 9 or more credits per term (e.g. Fall term). If a student has taken a 6 credit course (usually year long) it would be considered to be two 3.0 credit courses, one taken in each of the semesters.

A graduate student is considered full time if they are registered as Full-time/Active with the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Career Planning Information Sessions for International Students

York International facilitates a series of information sessions for international students designed to help them prepare for careers after university.

Dates, times and locations are to be determined. Please check our calendar for more information under "Workshops for international students" category.

You should also reference a book written by York profs entitled How to succeed at University (and get a good job!). See the last chapter and appendices on getting a good job!

Internships and Co-operative Education at York

For many students, York’s internship and co-operative education programs provide great opportunities to supplement their in-class education with in-the-field experience. In many cases, these work placements are paid positions and therefore can also help to offset the financial cost of a university education.

If you are considering adding an Internship or Co-operative Education placement to your degree, York has several options, depending on your area of study. Visit the Career Centre’s webpage and speak to an advisor at York International about internship and co-op opportunities that are available to international students

Note: In order to participate in a co-op or internship placement, you require an Internship/Co-op Work Permit. Consult Citizenship and Immigration’s webpage to learn exactly what is required to work as an intern or co-op student in Canada and to begin your application.

  • Career Centre Internships

York’s Internship Program is administered by the Career Centre and is open to full-time undergraduate students who are in their 3rd year of an honours degree and are specializing in one of the applicable programs of study. Students must also meet the mandatory academic eligibility requirements in order to be considered for the Internship Programs.

  • York International's Global Internships

York International's Global Internships are an opportunity for York undergraduate and graduate students to work in another country, or at an international host within Canada, for three months during the summer starting in May. Internship placements are arranged at a wide variety of government and non-government organizations, both in Canada and abroad. They offer students a range of experiences from field internships to research and/or administrative placements. Most of these placements are open to students from specific disciplines; some are focused by academic subject area.

  • Co-op Programs

York’s Faculty of Science Co-op program is available to students who meet its eligibility requirements. Students interested in participating in the York University Science Co-op Program must be full time, honours B.Sc. students specializing in an applicable area of study.

Admission to the Faculty of Science Co-op Program may occur at the time of admission to the University. For students already enrolled at York, admission must occur by the beginning of the study term prior to the first work term specified by the academic program. Visit the official website for more information about the application process.

If you are studying engineering, York’s Lassonde School of Engineering offers co-operative education opportunities that will allow you to gain paid work experience in your field of study.

Lassonde's co-op program includes a minimum of four months of work before third year, and a continuous period of at least eight months after third year, for a total of 16 months. Students will receive career skills workshops in preparation for their jobs, on-the-job evaluation by work managers and university staff, and grading of work reports.

Click here to learn more about Lassonde’s co-operative education opportunities.

For the above, a Co-op Work Permit is required if the placement is outside of the summer term.

Internship/Co-op: required documents

If your program of study at York requires you to complete an internship or a co-op placement, you must get an Internship/Co-op work permit. The following list explains the criteria for obtaining an Internship/Co-op Work Permit:

  • You must have a valid study permit.
  • Your employment must be part of your academic program, certified by a letter from a responsible academic official of the institution.
  • Your intended employment must be an essential part of your program of study in Canada.
  • Your co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50% (percent) of the total program of study.

Consult Citizenship and Immigration’s webpage to learn exactly what is required to work as an intern or co-op student in Canada and to begin your application (English/Français).

- International Student Employment Fund (ISEF)

The International Student Employment Fund (ISEF) provides funding to YorkU departments and units that are able to offer employment to international students.

After Graduation

a) Post-Graduation Work Permit

Upon completion of your degree, you can apply for a ‘Post-Graduation Work Permit’ which is an open permit that allows you to remain in Canada and work for up to three years.

At the time of application, your study permit must be valid and you must apply within 90 days of the release of you final grades. A job offer is not required to apply for this permit.

Visit Citizenship and Immigration’s webpage to see if you can qualify for this permit.

Also, if you are an international student, you may be able to apply to:

  • Opportunities Ontario for nomination as a permanent resident, under the International Student Category.
  • Canadian Experience Class. If you are a foreign student, and have skilled work experience in Canada, you may be in a good position to move from temporary to permanent residence under the (CEC).
b) Graduating Masters/PhD students

If you are a recent graduate, or will soon be graduating from a Masters or PhD program, you may be able to be nominated for permanent resident statue through programs offered by the provincial and/or federal government.

Spouses/Partners Working in Canada

If family members are accompanying you, they require their own Canadian work permits if they wish to be seek employment while you are enrolled in classes.Information about employment for family members can be found here.


Note: This immigration information has been reviewed and endorsed by an immigration lawyer in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.