Centre for International Experience

Working in Canada

When Can You Work?

If you are an international student with full-time registration status and a valid study permit, you are eligible to work in Canada, with some conditions. You can work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year (either on- or off-campus). During university-sanctioned breaks (such as Winter or Summer holidays, and Reading Week) you may work full time (up to 40 hours per week).


If you are taking a full-time courseload during the Summer semester, you are only allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Students who take a part-time Summer courseload or no Summer courses at all, can work up to 40 hours per week.


You will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). You can make your SIN application in person at any Service Canada office.

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Off-Campus Work

Please note that the rules about working off Campus have changed as of June 1st, 2014.


Who is eligible to work off-campus?

You are eligible to work off-Campus if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You hold a valid study permit;
  • You are a full-time student enrolled in a degree program (exception: when you are in the last term of your final year of study, you can work even if you are studying part-time);
  • Your program of study is at least six months or more in duration and one that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.

You are not eligible to work off-campus if:

  • You are a visiting or exchange student;
  • You are registered in a general interest program or a non-degree program;
  • You are registered in an English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL) program.

How many hours can an international student work off-campus?

  • If you are eligible to work off-campus you may work up to 20 hours per week during the regular academic year and full-time during scheduled breaks (e.g., winter/summer holidays, spring break).
  • If you are registered as full-time student during summer academic sessions (May to August) you may only work up to 20 hours per week during that period.
  • If you are enrolled in an intensive program which does not have scheduled breaks. You may only work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the entire program of study.

There are no legal restrictions preventing students from working on-campus in addition to working the maximum 20 hours per week off-campus. However, it is highly recommended that you work a maximum of 20 hours per week on and/or off- campus when you are studying.


Students who have received a study permit after June 1st, 2014:


If you received your study permit after June 1st 2014, you can work off-campus without a work permit provided that your study permit states that you are “Authorized to work off-campus”. However, you can only work off campus if you meet the eligibility criteria listed above. Before, you can work you will need to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN).


Students who have received a study permit before June 1st, 2014:


If you received your study permit before June 1st and you hold a valid off-campus work permit, you can continue using it as long as it is valid and as long as you are still eligible for it.


If you received your study permit before June 1st and you have never applied for an off-campus work permit, you may work off-campus without applying for an off-campus work permit if you meet the eligibility criteria listed above. Before you can work, you need to request a letter from CIC which confirms that you are eligible to work off campus. Go to the Social Insurance Number page to find out how you can get the letter and apply for a SIN.


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Co-Op Work Permit

Work experience is a required component of some programs of study. If you are registered in such a program, you will need a work permit to fulfil this requirement.


To be eligible for this work permit you must:

  • have a valid study permit, and
  • include in your application a letter from your faculty/department or college indicating that employment is an integral part of your degree program.

In most cases, the University of Toronto will be listed as the employer regardless of where you will work . The expiry date of your co-op work permit will be the same as the expiry date of your study permit. However, the co-op work permit can only be used for the mandatory internship requirement of your program


There is no processing fee required for the Co-Op Work Permit. We highly recommend that you apply online.


While you are doing your Co-Op Work, you are not allowed to work off-campus in another unrelated job.


Follow these steps when applying online.


NOTE:    If you are planning to work with children or in the health services field, you must complete and pass a medical examination before submitting your application.  You should book your medical examination well in advance as the process can be lengthy.  For a complete list of these occupations and a list of Designated Medical Practitioners who can perform the exam, visit this CIC website.  When you submit your work permit application, attach proof that you underwent a medical exam (i.e. a copy of your medical receipt). Failure to do so may result in processing delays or the rejection of your application.

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Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

The post-graduation employment program is designed to provide graduating students with Canadian work experience. International students who graduate from the University of Toronto are eligible (with few exceptions) to apply for a post-graduation work permit with a validity period of up to 3 years – this depends on the length of the student’s program of study.


If the official length of your program of study is:

  • less than 8  months
    • you are not eligible for this work permit.
  • more than 8 months and up to 2  years
    • you may get a work permit for a period no longer than the length of your program of study (for example, if you studied for nine months, a work permit may be issued for a period of nine months).
  • two years or more
    • a work permit may be issued for up to 3 years.


You may apply for this work permit only once during your stay in Canada as an international student. To be eligible, you must:

  • apply within the ninety day period since you received formal notification from the University that you have successfully completed your program requirements, or from when your final marks were posted, whichever comes first. (Please note that the 90-day period starts from the date you receive your final grades, not the date of your Convocation.)
  • have a valid Study Permit at the time of application.
  • provide proof of completion of your program (i.e., final transcript showing grades and/ or a letter from the University).
  • have not previously been issued a Post-Graduation Work Permit.


We highly recommend that you apply online. For more information, go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. Follow these steps when applying online.



Additional Information for Post-Graduation Work Permit Holders:

Members of your immediate family (spouse/ common-law partner/ dependent children) who wish to remain with you for the duration of your work permit must apply for permission to do so. You may apply for an extension of their stay in Canada at the same time as you apply for your Post-Graduation Work Permit. If your spouse currently holds an open work permit as your dependent, you may apply to extend his/her work permit when you apply for your Post-Graduation Work Permit. If you have a child you may apply to extend their study permit if they have one. If they do not have a study permit, you should extend their stay by applying for a visitors record for them.

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Work Permit for a Spouse or Common-Law Partner

The spouse or partner of a person who holds a study permit is eligible to apply for a work permit while in Canada. The applicant must include proof that he/she is the spouse/common-law partner of the student. Same-sex spouse or partners are eligible. A job offer for the spouse or partner is not required. For guidance on how to make this application, please refer to the relevant section of the CIC website.


An applicant who has already taken the immigration medical examination (if required) will receive an open work permit. If no medical exam has been taken, the work permit will be restricted. For a list of occupations that require a medical examination, please see the CIC website.

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Getting a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

In order to work in Canada, you must have the authorization to work (i.e., a work permit) and a Social Insurance Number (SIN).


Click here to see detailed information about getting a Social Insurance Number.

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Income Tax and International Students

In Canada, the deadline for residents living in Canada to file income tax returns is April 30th every year.


Most Canadians start compiling all their documents necessary to file by early March. This is the time period when most people receive all the necessary receipts or tax forms (e.g. T4 forms, T2202A, etc.).


As an international student, you must file a tax return if you received any income through employment in Canada, whether that is for on- or off-campus work. Even if you did not receive income from a Canadian source, you may benefit by submitting a tax return because you might qualify for certain refundable tax rebates.


You will need to determine your residency status for tax purposes, prior to filling out your tax return. Most international students are considered “residents” for income tax purposes because they live, study, work and use many public services in Canada. Please be aware that your residency status for tax purposes is not the same as your residency status for immigration.


Many international students who study or conduct research in Canada establish significant residential ties with Canada. You are considered a resident of Canada for tax purposes if you have established such ties. You are considered a non-resident of Canada for tax purposes if you do not establish residential ties with Canada and you are here for fewer than 183 days during the year. For more information about your tax residency status, please visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.


The CRA website features a series of videos for international students which provide an overview of the Canadian tax system and how to file.


Residential ties for CRA income tax purposes may include:

  • a home in Canada
  • a spouse or common-law partner and/or dependents in Canada
  • personal property in Canada (such as a car or furniture)
  • social ties in Canada
  • a Canadian driver's licence
  • a Canadian bank account or credit cards


You must know your status in order to determine which tax form to use and which deductions and benefits you are eligible for.


Students who have previously filed with CRA can make use of UFile (code FAY 1493) for an online submission.

CIE's Tax Clinics

Need more clarification? Every year CIE hosts tax clinics in the month of March and April that can help. CRA-trained volunteers can help international students (undergrad and graduate) with filing taxes. We are pleased to say that we helped over 500 students with the tax filing process in Spring 2014.


Details on hours of operation for the 2015 tax clinics will become available in February 2015.


For additional assistance with your income tax filing you may wish to consult the CRA’s tax clinics in Toronto. Please click here for more information about those other tax clinics.

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Useful Canada Revenue Agency Links

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