Federal government temporarily changes how many hours international students can work off campus

By: Nathan Richison

In early October, the Government of Canada announced a temporary lift on the 20-hour off-campus work limit for international students.

“It is really a good fit for international students as we have to pay international fees and we have to pay rent and groceries by ourselves,” said Amisha Sharma, a Business Technology Management international student at Red River College Polytechnic.

The announcement stated the change is in response to Canada’s labour shortage, but Manpreet Kaur, president of the Red River College Students’ Association said it is also in response to advocacy from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

“I believe like a lot of students will take advantage of this and work full time. I believe it is a good opportunity for them as well,” Kaur said.

The CASA is also working to get the government to extend this period or even make it a permanent change, Kaur said.

Manpreet Kaur and Amisha Sharma stand on the second floor of Manitou a bi Bii daziigae on Nov. 15, 2022. (Nathan Richison)

“Before the pandemic, I was financially stable to live in Canada for two years. But now when the pandemic comes, it affects everything like my parents, they can’t go to work, and I can’t get a job here,” said Celeste Doan, a Community Development international student at RRC Polytech.

They said being an international student comes with a lot of barriers, including discrimination and learning completely new systems.

“Like you come to Canada because you want to be a student, you want to study, you want to further your education,” Doan said.

Sharma and Doan both said it is important, even with this change, that international students keep their focus on their studies. Doan also highlighted the high fees international students pay on top of other costs.

“But now when you really come to Canada and now the circumstance is you can’t even live here because you don’t have like, an income like it’s just a minimum wage and the inflation is high,” Doan said.

“You know, like the tuition fee that international student needs to pay is approximately four times higher than domestic student,” Doan said.

The change runs from Nov. 15, 2022, until Dec. 31, 2023, for international students who are authorized to work off campus, which includes around 500,000 people, according to the Government of Canada’s press release.