IRCC's latest changes to Canada's International Student Program: What employers need to know

3 minute read
15 December 2023

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") recently made two announcements relating to the International Student Program. The changes in both announcements are aimed at better protecting and supporting international students.

Summary of the changes

  • The cost of living requirement, which has not changed since 2000, will increase to better prepare students and align more realistically with expenditures associated with living in Canada. This change will help prevent student vulnerability and exploitation.
  • The waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit on the number of hours international students are allowed to work off campus will be extended until April 30, 2024, for applicants already in Canada or those who submitted applications before Dec. 7, 2023.
  • The previously announced policy allowing students to count online studying towards the length of their post-secondary program will continue for those who begin their study program before Sept. 1, 2024. This will only apply if the time spent participating in online studies constitutes less than 50 per cent of the program.
  • The temporary policy allowing an additional 18-month work permit is still available for those holding post-graduate work permits expiring on or before Dec. 31, 2023. IRCC has stated that this temporary policy will not be extended further.
  • The post-graduation work permit criteria will be reviewed and reformed to meet the needs of the Canadian labour market, as well as regional and Francophone immigration goals.
  • Designated learning institutions will be required to confirm every applicant's acceptance letter directly with IRCC to decrease the amount of fraudulent international student applications processed.

Employer takeaway

The key employer takeaway is the temporary extension of the hours of work rules for international students. Until April 30, 2024, eligible international students may work full-time hours, even if in an academic session. The 20-hour-per-week cap will not apply. Additionally, until April 30, 2024, most international students on co-op work terms may use the off-campus work regime to work full time during their co-op placement without requiring a co-op work permit.

Employers need to plan ahead to be ready for the end of the temporary waiver. As of April 30, 2024, international students working under the off-campus work regime will once again be limited to 20 hours of work per week, unless the government introduces new hours of work rules for international students. Employers must ensure that they do not allow international students working for them to exceed any applicable hours of work rules. Otherwise, an employer would be illegally employing the international student, and the international student would also jeopardize their status in Canada.

Immigration policies and practices continue to change frequently. Our Immigration Group would be pleased to help with any questions you may have about immigration into Canada or the U.S. To find out more about our group, reach out to a member of our team and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

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