International students can now work more than 20 hours per week in Canada

As of November 15, 2022, international students can now work over 20 hours per week in Canada. In an effort to address the labour shortage, the Canadian government lifted a long-time regulation that limited international students to only 20 hours of work per week off-campus.

The IRCC has announced that from November 15, 2022, to December 31, 2023, international students that are in Canada can officially work more than 20 hours off-campus while class is in session.

Why did the Canadian government approve this change for international students?

  • Labour shortage and increase in job vacancies

The total labour demand which refers to the filled and vacant positions reached a record of 17.7 million in June, 1.4% higher than in May. Canadian job vacancies rose to a new record of 3.2%, meaning more than 32,000 jobs are currently available. According to Statistics Canada, since May, job vacancies in Canada have achieved a new record surpassing 1 million in just three months.

  • Unemployment increasing

Canada’s labour market set a record low unemployment rate of 5.4% in August 2022, according to Statistics Canada. The unemployment rate fell to 5.2% in September as fewer people searched for work.

  • Workers are retiring

The more employees retiring, the more job vacancies there will be. People born between 1946 and 1964 are approaching retirement periods within the next decade. There are approximately 9 million of them in all of Canada. In September, there were just under one million (57.5%) people aged 55 to 64 who cited retirement as their main activity according to Statistics Canada.

  •  Low birth rate of Canadians

The low birth rate of Canadians means there will not be enough workers to fill these positions and Canada will have to rely on international students. In 2020, according to Statistics Canada also experienced the lowest number of births since 2007 and the greatest decrease in births (-3.6%) since 1997. Besides, in 2021 many individuals changed their fertility plans due to the pandemic.

World Economic Outlook Database April 2022. Canada; IMF; 2017 to 2021 (Statista 2022)

How many international students will benefit from the change in the work restriction?

More than 500,000 international students already studying in Canada will benefit from this change according to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

Canada is one of the most attractive destinations in the world for international students. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), there was an estimated 530,540 international students in Canada in 2020, with 96% of foreign students recommending Canada as an international destination. Since 2015, the level of international students has been gradually increasing at all education levels according to Statista 2020.

The lift of the 20-hours per week restriction allows international students to support themselves financially; especially at this point that the pandemic is over and some students might be trying to recover from the hit; also that the Canadian government needs help to improve certain aspects of the economy. Still, the government wants to make sure that students continue focusing primarily on their studies rather than on work. Students are under a study permit that states that the main reason for coming to Canada is to study. Study permit holders are still expected to balance their study and work commitments, as those who stop studying or reduce course loads to only study part-time are not eligible to work off-campus.

In 2021, Canada hosted over 620,000 international students, a figure that has been increasing in the last two decades. Currently, Canada counts 621,565 international students at all levels of study. The number of international students per province can be seen in Figure 1 (CBIE 2022).

Figure 1. Where do international students go? (CBIE 2022)

If you want more information about the change of work-off campus for over 20 hours per week, please go to the Canadian government website. If you need more information about working in Canada while studying in Acsenda, please contact us.