International students who come to Canada must have enough money to live and pay their bills while they are studying, without needing to work. However, in some situations, students may be able to work while they are studying. Working will give them experience in Canadian work settings; help them get to know the communities they’re living in; and let them earn extra money.
Students must not work without permission. If they do, they may be asked to leave Canada. They will also need a social insurance number to work in Canada.
Some Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) programs may be available to international students if both they and the institution where they are studying meet the requirements. Information about the range of programs offered by CIC is available online at
Students already in Canada can call the CIC Call Centre at:
1-888-242-2100 (toll-free for information on citizenship and immigration).
Students not in Canada can contact the Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate responsible for their region. Canadian overseas missions are listed online by region at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/offices/missions.asp.
Anyone working in Canada requires a social insurance number (SIN). Without a SIN, an employer cannot legally pay an employee. Once you have been issued a work permit, you must apply for a SIN from Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD). HRSD recommends that students apply in person at a Service Canada office for the card and allow several weeks for processing. A SIN card, which will expire at the same time as your work permit, will be issued. You must show the card, or proof that you have applied for the card, within three days of the start date of your employment, and you may work during the waiting period.
For information on how to apply for a SIN card and the Service Canada location closest to you, visit the Service Canada website.
Once you start a job and are paid a salary, income tax will be deducted from your paycheque. There are also standard deductions taken for employment insurance (EI) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
For information on income taxes and employment insurance, visit the Canada Revenue Agency. For information on the Canada Pension Plan visit Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
The Off-Campus Work Permit Program allows certain foreign students to work off campus while completing their studies. For more information on student eligibility and eligible institutions, please visit the Off-Campus Work Permit Program website.
Studying in British Columbia can be a very exciting once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some students return home after their studies, others look for work here or in Canada’s other provinces.
New regulations are making it easier for qualified international students to work in Canada after their studies. Here are a few examples:
- International students who meet the requirements for post-graduation employment under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program may be eligible for a work permit of up to three years in length. Contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada for details.
- As an international student studying in British Columbia, you may qualify for The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program. This program is designed to help employers hire graduates who can meet the skill needs of their organizations.
- International student graduates may also qualify for immigration under the Canadian Experience Class.
If you are interested in working in B.C. and Canada, the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation's labour market section provides career resources for students and skilled immigrants, and career trends in Canada. The Province also provides comprehensive information about skilled
immigrants and working in B.C. on the International Qualifications website.