Miller: Extended off-campus work measures for international students to end

A photo of Marc Miller speaking at a media conference. CREDIT: GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
Miller announced this week that starting in the fall academic semester this year, international students in Canada will only be permitted to work up to 24 hours per week while class is in session.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller has announced that temporary measures regarding off-campus work hours for international students will not continue.

Starting in October 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) began temporarily allowing international students with an off-campus work authorization on their study permits to work more than 20 hours per week during the school year. Potential news of canceling the pilot project led to mass pushback from the international community, and in December, the government announced that it would extend the program until April 30.

At that time, advocates like former Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) president Stephin Sathya, hoped that this would lead to a longer extension of the program. Instead, Miller announced this week that starting in the fall academic semester this year, international students in Canada will only be permitted to work up to 24 hours per week while class is in session.

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“While the new limit is more than the previous 20 hour limit, it is still not what we advocated for,” Sathya said. “While it may provide some relief for international students, there is more advocacy to be done in this matter.” Also in December, Miller had stated that there could be potential for the government to explore extending the limit to 30 hours a week. He has now backtracked on that statement, stating that this would have a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance.

According to Abacus Data, in 2023, more than two-thirds of international students who worked 40 hours or more per week achieved an academic average of 85 per cent or more.

“I feel like there should be freedom to work more hours because it will be easier for employers to hire people and students to work,” Sathya said. “You can choose a work environment that is suitable for you, and you can balance your studies.”

Miller also said that limiting the number of off-campus hours a student can work would help deter those international students who might apply for a study permit with the primary objective of working in Canada.

International students currently in Canada on an academic break are permitted to work unlimited hours. Those taking summer classes must now adhere to the 20 hours per week rule.

“The current cost of living will be an extra burden on international students and considering international students fill critical labour sectors such as construction, healthcare and education/retail, it is imperative that a larger allowance be provided to them to offset the high cost of living,” Sathya said.