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Working in Canada

As an international student, you have options for gaining paid and unpaid work experience in Canada.

Make sure you understand the restrictions associated with these options before starting any paid work. Never work without proper authorization.

On- & off-campus work

You need to be a full-time student at UVic to work on or off campus. The definition of full-time studies is different for undergraduate students and graduate students.

  • if you are registered with the UVic Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL), consult with your CAL adviser to confirm the full-time definition based on your academic accommodations
  • the definition of full-time enrolment used for scholarships, bursaries, student loans and external providers may differ from the full-time definitions in the UVic Calendar
  • there is a different full-time definition for undergraduate (e.g., JD and JID) students in the Faculty of Law

One way to check your enrolment status is to download a Verification of Enrolment letter via UVic Online Tools. The letter will state whether you are enrolled full time or part time.

Work on campus

Find out if you're eligible to work on campus without a work permit.

Work off campus

Find out if you're eligible to work off campus without a work permit. Off-campus work is normally restricted to a maximum of 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions.

IRCC updates: temporary lifting of 20-hour limit for off-campus work

If you meet certain eligibility criteria, you may be eligible to work more than 20 hours per week off campus under IRCC's temporary measures.

If you are eligible under one of the following temporary policies, you may work more than 20 hours off campus until April 30, 2024 or until your current study permit expires, whichever comes first.

You can work more than 20 hours per week off campus from November 15, 2022 to April 30, 2024 if:

  • you hold a valid study permit, and 
  • you applied for your current study permit (including extensions) on or before October 7, 2022, and
  • you meet all the other eligibility requirements to legally work off campus, including full-time enrolment during regular academic sessions.
    • please note that you must have started your studies in order to legally begin work

You can work more than 20 hours per week off campus from January 1 to April 30, 2024 if:

  • you hold a valid study permit, and 
  • you applied for your current study permit (including extensions) between October 8, 2022 and December 7, 2023, and
  • you meet all the other eligibility requirements to legally work off campus, including full-time enrolment during regular academic sessions.
    • please note that you must have started your studies in order to legally begin work

If your current study permit was issued based on an application (including extension applications) submitted after December 7, 2023, you must limit your off-campus work to a maximum 20 hours per week.

Off-campus work during regularly scheduled breaks

There is no limit to the number of hours eligible students can work off campus without a work permit during regularly scheduled breaks. To legally work full time during a regularly scheduled break, you must be a full-time student immediately before and immediately after the break.

Reading breaks, winter breaks and inter-session breaks are examples of regularly scheduled breaks at UVic.

  • undergraduate degree-seeking students: the summer session can be considered a regularly scheduled break, as long as your program allows it, and provided you are a full-time studentduring the winter session immediately before and immediately after that summer session
    • consult with your academic adviser if you have questions about your program’s scheduled breaks
  • graduate degree-seeking students: you must maintain continuity of registration in your program and therefore the summer session is not considered a regularly scheduled break

Other work options

Co-op, internship & practicum work

If your program at UVic includes a work component such as a Co-op, internship, or practicum, you will need a co-op work permit. The co-op work permit can only be used for work that is an integral component of your studies at UVic.

To apply for a co-op work permit, you will need a letter from your UVic Co-op, internship, or practicum program confirming that work is required for your program.

Visit the IRCC website for more information on co-op work permits and how to apply.

Experiential learning

You may also have the opportunity to participate in experiential learning opportunities during your time at UVic. This could be a short internship or practicum incorporated into an academic course, a research award, or another type of hands-on experience. Some experiential learning activities may meet IRCC's definition of "work," in which case you will need the correct work authorization to participate.

For advice on work authorization for your intended experiential learning activity, contact an International Student Adviser.

Medical exam requirements

An immigration medical exam is required to work in certain jobs or settings in Canada. This applies even if the work is unpaid, and regardless of the type of work authorization you are using (on-campus, off-campus, co-op/internship/practicum work permit, post-graduation work permit, etc.)

You will require a medical exam if: 

  1. you will work in jobs that bring you into close contact with people, such as 
    • workers in health-care settings 
    • clinical laboratory workers 
    • patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes 
    • medical students admitted to Canada to attend university 
    • medical electives and physicians on short-term locums 
    • workers in primary or secondary school settings, or workers in child-care settings 
    • domestics 
    • workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled 
    • day nursery employees and 
    • other similar jobs  
  2. you will work in agriculture and have visited or lived in a designated country or territory for more than 6 months during the past year. 

Keep in mind that medical exam requirements can be based on the type of work that you will do, or the setting where the work will take place. For example, if you will work in a hospital, a medical exam is required even if you are not providing direct patient care. 

How to get an immigration medical exam 

The medical exam must be completed by an IRCC-approved Panel Physician and proof of the exam must be submitted to IRCC with your application for a study permit or work permit. The Panel Physician will give you an eMedical information sheet to submit with your application, and will also transmit the results to IRCC. Results are valid for 12 months. 

Immigration medical exams are not covered under your primary or extended health insurance. Please contact the Panel Physician’s office you plan to attend for fee information. 

If you have not completed an immigration medical exam as part of your application for your current study permit or work permit:  

  • you are not authorized to working in the jobs and settings listed above, and 
  • your study permit and/or work permit may include a condition stating you are not authorized to work in these jobs or settings 

If you would like to work in one of the jobs or settings described above, you'll need to complete an immigration medical exam and apply to change the conditions on your study permit or work permit. This process may take several months, and you cannot start working in a job that requires a medical exam until the application is approved and a new study or work permit is issued to you. Please connect with an International Student Adviser for guidance. 

Find work

UVic's Co-operative Education & Career Services can help guide and support you as you consider volunteer and work opportunities in Canada.

They offer:

Social Insurance Number & taxes

In addition to meeting eligibility requirements and holding the correct work authorization, if you want to work in Canada you need to:

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to gain unpaid work experience and contribute to a cause you believe in. Please note that some unpaid positions may still require a work permit, or work authorization under your study permit.

Visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to learn more about volunteering as an international student.

Post-graduation work permit

After completing your program of study at UVic, you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) and stay in Canada to work for up to 3 years. 

To qualify for the post-graduation work permit, you must meet the eligibility requirements which include continuous full-time enrolment in all academic sessions throughout your UVic program (with limited exceptions).  

Exchange and study abroad students are NOT eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

For more information on PGWP eligibility criteria and application process, visit the IRCC website. You can also review the information session recording below.

Please note

The information in this presentation is accurate as of November 21, 2023. Policies and programs may change without notice. Please visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website at www.canada.ca/immigration for accurate, up-to-date information.

Permanent residence

International Student Advisers at UVic cannot advise on Permanent Residence (PR) programs, but you can review the IRCC website for a general overview of available pathways.

Students seeking PR consultations should consider hiring an authorized immigration representative.

Information on this page has been reviewed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants and Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors in compliance with the Government of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

If you are not an international student, you can find additional immigration information on the UVic Immigration web page.

Information can change without notice. For the most current information, refer to the following websites: