Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced on Oct. 7 that Canada will temporarily lift the limit on the hours international students can work off-campus in an effort to address Canada’s labour shortage.
The measure, which will be in effect from Nov. 15, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2023, will allow many international students to gain experience in Canada and increase the availability of workers to sustain Canada’s post-pandemic growth.
International students pursuing higher education who are in Canada and have an off-campus work authorization on their study permit may work more than 20 hours per week off-campus while studying. This temporary measure will also apply to foreigners who have already submitted a study permit application.
The program could benefit around 500,000 students and will provide more workers to Canadian companies that have vacancies.
David Narvaez, an international student from Colombia is among the students who believe that the government should implement this as a permanent measure as it would help solve the labor shortage in Canada. He believes it would also give international students the opportunity to cover their expenses.
Last month, Statistics Canada released Job Vacancy and Wage Survey report for the second quarter of 2022. The new report showed that employers across all sectors in Canada were actively looking to fill nearly one million job vacancies during the second quarter. This figure represents a 5.7 per cent job vacancy rate, which is the highest on record.
Even though the new measure will allow students to work as many hours as they want, Minister Fraser stressed that study permit holders are still expected to balance their study and work commitments.
While it is true that it would be difficult for a full-time student to have a full-time job, the elimination of the hour limit means that now they can work more. In addition to the extra hours, they are allowed to work during reading weeks and summer rest periods.
This month, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also launching a pilot project to automate the processing of study permit extensions. The types of applications included in this pilot have a consistently high approval rate, as all applicants have been previously approved to study in Canada. The pilot will involve a small group of applicants who could see their extended study permit processed much faster. If the pilot is successful, it will be expanded to help reduce processing times and allow officers to focus on more complex applications.