Working in Canada

Information on this page has been reviewed by a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in compliance with the Government of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

UVic provides additional immigration information for the campus community at www.uvic.ca/immigration.

Please be aware that information can sometimes change without notice. For the most current information, always refer to the following websites:


Can I work in Canada?

Can I do volunteer work?

Volunteering is a great way to gain unpaid work experience and contribute to a cause you believe in.

International students are allowed to do volunteer work, but please be aware that not all unpaid work experience is considered volunteer work.

More information is available on the IRCC website.

Please make sure you understand the restrictions associated with volunteer work BEFORE starting any unpaid work experience in Canada, and never work without the proper authorization.

Working in Canada when you are not authorized may result in enforcement action taken by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It could also negatively impact your current temporary resident status and any future applications you make under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations.

Can I do paid work?

As an international student, your primary purpose in Canada must be to study, and you must be able to cover all the costs of your studies without relying on employment income.

However, there are some specific options available for gaining paid work experience in Canada as an international student.

Information about these options is available on the IRCC website.

Please make sure you understand the restrictions associated with these options BEFORE starting any paid work experience in Canada, and never work without the proper authorization.

Working in Canada when you are not authorized may result in enforcement action taken by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It could also negatively impact your current temporary resident status and any future applications you make under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations.

I want to work on campus.

You may work on campus without a work permit if you have a valid study permit that does not restrict on-campus work, you are a full-time student at UVic, and you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

The definition of on-campus work is available on the IRCC website.

The definitions* of full-time studies for undergraduate students and for graduate students are available in the UVic Calendar.

* Please note there is a different definition for JD students in the Faculty of Law.

An easy way to confirm your registration status at UVic is to check your verification of enrolment, which you can access through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

There is no limit to the number of hours per week eligible students can work on campus without a work permit. However, you must not allow on-campus work to jeopardize your studies. As an international student, your primary purpose in Canada must be to study.

I want to work off campus.

You may work off campus without a work permit if you have a valid study permit that does not restrict off-campus work, you are a full-time student at UVic, your program of study is at least six months long and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate from UVic, and you have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

The definitions* of full-time studies for undergraduate students and for graduate students are available in the UVic Calendar.

* Please note there is a different definition for JD students in the Faculty of Law.

An easy way to confirm your registration status at UVic is to check your verification of enrolment, which you can access through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

Eligible students can work off campus without a work permit up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions.

There is no limit to the number of hours per week eligible students can work off campus without a work permit during regularly scheduled breaks. Reading breaks and the winter break, which takes place between the first and second terms of winter session, are examples of regularly scheduled breaks at UVic.

Undergraduate degree-seeking students:  Summer session can be an optional scheduled break as long as your program allows it, and as long as you are a full-time student during the winter session immediately before and immediately after that summer session.

Graduate degree-seeking students:  You must maintain continuous registration in your program and therefore are not eligible to have an optional scheduled break unless you register in a personal leave.

Exchange students:  You will receive a degree, diploma, or certificate from your home institution (not from UVic). Therefore, you are NOT eligible to work off campus with only a study permit.

Study abroad/visiting students:  You will receive a degree, diploma, or certificate from your home institution (not from UVic). Therefore, you are NOT eligible to work off campus with only a study permit.

I want to apply for a student work permit.

If work experience, such as co-op work terms or internship placements, are part of the curriculum for your program of study, you must apply for a student work permit and you must get a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

To be eligible for a student work permit, you must have a valid study permit. In addition, the work experience must be an essential part of your program of study at UVic and must not be more than 50% of the total program.

Instructions and requirements for a student work permit application are available on the IRCC website.

You must include in your application a letter stating that the work experience is an essential part of your program of study at UVic. Contact your Co-op office or the academic unit responsible for your program of study to request this letter.

I want to apply for a post-graduation work permit.

If you want to stay in Canada and work after you complete your program of study, consider applying for a post-graduation work permit. You will also need a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

To be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, you must be 18 or older and have a valid study permit when you submit the application. In addition, you must have successfully completed a program of study in Canada that is at least eight months long and that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate from UVic, you must have continuously studied full-time, and you must submit the application within 90 days of completing all requirements for the program of study.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Students who were issued a post-graduation work permit following a previous program of study are NOT eligible to apply again.

Instructions and requirements for a post-graduation work permit application are available on the IRCC website.

You must include in your application a letter stating that you have successfully completed all the requirements for your program of study at UVic.

Undergraduate degree-seeking students:  Request a degree completion letter from Undergraduate Records, in person on the first floor of University Centre, or through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

Graduate degree-seeking students:  Request a degree completion letter from Graduate Admissions and Records, in person on the second floor of University Centre, or through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

Exchange students:  You will receive a degree, diploma, or certificate from your home institution (not from UVic). Therefore, you are NOT eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

Study abroad/visiting students:  You will receive a degree, diploma, or certificate from your home institution (not from UVic). Therefore, you are NOT eligible for a post-graduation work permit.


Finding work

Co-operative Education Program & Career Services

To find a job, you need a resume and cover letter that will impress Canadian employers.

You also need to be able to communicate your competencies during an interview. Your competencies are the knowledge, skills, and attributes you can offer an employer.

Co-operative Education Program & Career Services (Co-op & Career) is an amazing resource available to all UVic students and alumni, offering resources such as in-person coaching sessions, free career workshops, and self-paced online career programs.

Visit the Co-op & Career website to:

If you can't find the answers you are looking for on the Co-op & Career website, visit or contact the appropriate office.

Student Awards & Financial Aid

The UVic Work Study Program provides financial assistance through on-campus, part-time employment opportunities for UVic students with documented financial need.


Social Insurance Number

Do I need a Social Insurance Number?

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) allows you to be paid for work and to access government programs.

If an organization asks you for a SIN, and it is not legally required, you can explain that you prefer not to provide it and offer different proof of identity.

More information is available on the Service Canada website.

How can I get a Social Insurance Number?

Apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN) in person at a Service Canada office. If you have the required documents, you will get a SIN during your visit. There is no application fee.

The Victoria Service Canada Centre is located at 1401 Douglas Street.

If you are not able to visit a Service Canada office in person, follow the instructions on the Service Canada website to apply by mail.

Your SIN will be issued on a confirmation of SIN letter. Service Canada no longer issues plastic SIN cards.

What documents do I need to apply for a Social Insurance Number?

As an international student, you are a temporary resident of Canada. To qualify for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), temporary residents must have a valid passport and one of the following documents issued by IRCC:

  • valid work permit
  • valid study permit that clearly states you are authorized to work in Canada
  • valid visitor record that clearly states you are authorized to work in Canada

You must provide your original documents when you apply in person. Photocopies are not accepted.

More information is available on the Service Canada website.

How can I get a new study permit with corrected wording?

If you do not have a valid work permit, and your study permit does not clearly state that you "may accept employment" or "may work" in Canada, you must obtain a new study permit with corrected wording.

Consider the following options:

Option 1
  • Visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office at 400 - 1321 Blanshard Street to explain your situation and request a new study permit.

Choose Option 1 only if your study permit was issued recently at a Canadian port of entry, if you were eligible to work in Canada as an international student when your study permit was issued, and if you are in urgent need of a SIN. If your request is not successful, choose a different option.

Option 2
  • Submit an application to change the conditions of your study permit.
  • Instructions and application requirements are available on the IRCC website.
  • You must include in your application a study permit information letter and a verification of enrolment that confirms your registration status at UVic is full-time.
  • Request these documents through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

Choose Option 2 if you were not eligible to work in Canada as an international student when your study permit was issued, but you have since changed your program of study so that you are now eligible.

Option 3
  • Submit an application to amend your study permit.
  • Instructions and application requirements are available on the IRCC website.
  • You must include in your application a study permit information letter and a verification of enrolment that confirms your registration status at UVic is full-time.
  • Request these documents through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.
  • You must also include in your application a copy of the study permit information letter you included in your original application for the study permit you now need to amend.
  • If you no longer have this letter, contact your UVic admission officer to request a copy.
  • Make a copy or take a photo of your study permit before submitting the application by mail.
  • Use a method that allows you to confirm successful delivery. We recommend using Xpresspost or Registered Mail.

Choose Option 3 if you were eligible to work in Canada as an international student when your study permit was issued.

Why does my confirmation of SIN letter or SIN card have an expiry date?

As an international student, you are a temporary resident of Canada, so your Social Insurance Number (SIN) begins with a "9" and should be valid for the same duration as your Canadian immigration document.

Whenever you extend your temporary resident status in Canada, and receive a new document issued by IRCC, you will need to update your SIN record. The process to update your SIN record is the same as the initial application process, and you will receive a new confirmation of SIN letter.

What if my SIN expires while I am waiting for a new document from IRCC?

If you apply to extend your temporary resident status in Canada before your Canadian immigration document expires, and then your current document expires before you receive the new document, you will probably have implied status.

With implied status, you can continue to use your expired Social Insurance Number (SIN) until you receive the new document from IRCC.

When you receive the new document from IRCC you will need to update your SIN record. The process to update your SIN record is the same as the initial application process, and you will receive a new confirmation of SIN letter.

I have a SIN. Can I work in Canada?

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) allows you to be paid for work and to access government programs, but it does NOT give you authorization to work in Canada.

Check out the Can I work in Canada? section above to learn about volunteer work and paid work.

Working in Canada when you are not authorized may result in enforcement action taken by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It could also negatively impact your current temporary resident status and any future applications you make under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and its regulations.

I have questions about my SIN.

If you still have questions after consulting the Service Canada website, contact Service Canada directly, Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, at 1-800-206-7218 (choose option 3) or visit a Service Canada office.


Income tax

Why do I need to complete TD1 forms?

When you are hired for a new job in Canada, your employer will ask you to complete TD1 forms to determine the correct amount of income tax to deduct from your paycheques.

Any deducted income tax will be sent to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). You may be able to get back all or most of your deducted income tax by filing an income tax return.

Your employer may also deduct Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from your paycheques. You will not be able to get back these deducted amounts by filing an income tax return.

What does it mean to file an income tax return?

To file an income tax return means to submit income tax forms and related documents to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

You should also confirm whether or not you have tax obligations in other countries.

Can I file an income tax return?

Your ability to file an income tax return and your tax obligations are based on your residency status, which is based on the residential ties you have with Canada.

Your residency status for income tax purposes is not the same as your residency status for immigration purposes.

Should I file an income tax return?

You must file an income tax return if you received more than $3,500 of employment income, if you owe income tax to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), or if CRA sends you a request to file.

Even if you are not required to file an income tax return, you might want to for the following reasons:

  • If you received employment income in Canada, and income tax was deducted from your paycheques, you may be able to get back all or most of the income tax as a refund.
  • You can claim credits for your tuition, education, and textbook expenses. You may not be able to use these credits yet, but you must claim them in the year you earn them. Unused credits can be saved up, rolled forward, and used to reduce income tax owed to CRA in future years.
  • You might qualify for the GST/HST Credit and associated provincial credits. If you qualify, you will receive a payment four times per year.
  • If you have children and they are currently in Canada, you might qualify for the Child Tax Benefit (CTB) and associated provincial benefits. If you qualify, you will receive a payment every month.
  • If you already registered for Fair PharmaCare and you want your coverage to continue.
  • If you want to establish a history of filing income tax returns in Canada, which may be beneficial if you decide to apply for permanent resident status and eventually for citizenship.

You may be eligible for credits and benefits, even if you have no income to report, but you must file an income tax return to claim them.

When should I file my income tax return?

Each tax year is from January 1 to December 31.

Most income tax slips needed to prepare an income tax return for the previous tax year will be ready by February 28, and the deadline for filing is April 30.

Late submissions are accepted, but it is best to file before the deadline. There may be a penalty for filing after the deadline if you owe income tax to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). There may also be a cut-off for credits and benefits if you wait too long to file.

What income tax forms do I need?

The income tax forms you need will depend on your residency status for income tax purposes and are available on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website:

Forms are specific to a particular tax year. Forms for Residents are also specific to a province or territory. Be sure to use the correct forms for your situation.

What other documents do I need?

The following are examples of the most common documents for international students:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Individual Tax Number (ITN)
  • income tax slips
  • receipts for charitable donations, medical expenses, child care expenses, etc.
  • information about your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children
  • passports and immigration documents
  • Notice of Assessment or Reassessment

This is not a comprehensive list. You may need additional documents.

How can I get a Social Insurance Number?

Check out the Social Insurance Number section above for detailed instructions.

How can I get an Individual Tax Number?

Most international students are eligible for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Check out the Social Insurance Number section above for detailed instructions.

You should only apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) if you are not eligible for a SIN.

You will need a T1261 form. Use this form to apply for an ITN even if you are a Resident for income tax purposes.

You will also need certified copies of your passport and study permit. Take your original documents to a Service Canada office to be certified.

There are two options for submitting this application:

  • Mail it to the address on the back of the T1261 form.
  • Include it in the same envelope with your income tax return.

Only use your ITN to file income tax returns until you are eligible for a SIN.

How can I get my income tax slips?

Most income tax slips for the previous tax year will be ready by February 28.

The following are examples of the most common income tax slips for international students:

  • T2202A slips for tuition and education amounts
  • T4 slips for employment income
  • T4A slips for other income
  • T3, T5 and T5013 slips for investment and trust income

This is not a comprehensive list. You may need additional income tax slips.

T2202A slips
  • You should receive a T2202A slip from each Canadian post-secondary institution you attended during the tax year.
  • For studies at UVic, you can print your T2202A slip from UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Finances tab.
  • If you have not received your T2202A slips for studies at other post-secondary institutions by February 28, contact each institution directly.
T4 slips
  • You should receive a T4 slip from each Canadian employer you worked for during the tax year.
  • For on-campus jobs, you can print your T4 slips from UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Finances tab.
  • If you have not received your T4 slips for off-campus jobs by February 28, contact each employer directly.
T4A slips
  • You should receive a T4A slip from each Canadian funding organization who gave you a scholarship, bursary, fellowship, or research grant during the tax year.
  • For UVic funding opportunities, you can print your T4A slips from UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Finances tab.
  • If you have not received your T4A slips for other funding opportunities by February 28, contact each funding organization directly.
T3 and T5 slips
  • You should receive a T3, T5, and/or T5013 slip from each Canadian financial institution you received more than $50 of investment or trust income from during the tax year.
  • If you have not received your T3, T5 and/or T5013 slips by March 31, contact each financial institution directly.

How can I get a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment?

If you have never filed an income tax return, you will not have a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment.

If you filed an income tax return for a previous tax year, you should have received a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment as the official response from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The information you need from your Notice of Assessment or Reassessment is the unused totals for your federal tuition, education, and textbook credit amount and for your provincial tuition and education credit amount.

If you no longer have the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment from the last time you filed an income tax return, follow the instructions on the CRA website.

Where do I send my income tax return?

For your first time filing an income tax return in Canada, you must send it by mail to the appropriate Tax Centre.

If you need to file income tax returns for multiple years, send all forms and related documents together in one envelope and include a cover letter to ensure they are processed in the right order.

If you have an Individual Tax Number (ITN), you must continue to send your income tax return to the appropriate Tax Centre every year until you get a Social Insurance Number (SIN).

If you have a SIN, you can either file online or send your income tax return by mail to the appropriate Tax Centre for subsequent years.

Where can I find more information?

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has produced a very helpful online video series for international students.

If you still have questions after consulting the CRA website, contact CRA directly.

Income tax issues can be complicated and confusing. We strongly recommend getting help with preparing and filing your first income tax return so you don't miss out on refunds, credits, and benefits.

Who can help me?

If you have a modest income and a simple income tax situation, you may be eligible to attend a free tax preparation clinic.

If you are not able or eligible to attend a tax preparation clinic, you may wish to pay a tax professional to prepare your income tax return. Many companies and Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) provide this service:

  • H&R Block and Liberty Tax Service are companies with locations across Canada.
  • Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) are recommended for complicated situations (self-employment, world income, foreign property, etc.)

Always identify yourself as an international student to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) staff, tax preparation clinic volunteers, and tax professionals. Make sure the person assisting you is familiar with income tax obligations for international students.

What happens after I file my income tax return?

It can take 6 - 8 weeks for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to process your first income tax return. For subsequent years, as long as you have a SIN, the processing time will probably be faster.

When CRA is finished processing your income tax return, you will receive a Notice of Assessment or Reassessment.

If you are a Resident for income tax purposes, and it is your first time filing an income tax return in Canada, please be sure to send applications for credits and benefits to the appropriate Tax Centre after you receive the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment from CRA.

The following are examples of the most common application forms for credits and benefits:

Refunds and payments for credits and benefits can be issued by direct deposit.

CRA offers My Account, which allows you to track your refund, view or change your income tax return, check your benefit and credit payments, set up direct deposit, and receive important messages. You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to register for My Account.

Keep copies of everything for seven years, and keep CRA informed every time your mailing address changes.


If you have questions about any of the information on this page, please visit or contact the International Student Services (ISS) team at the International Student Centre (ISC).


Last updated: November 2018