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Navigating International Student Worker Restrictions: Post-Expiry Guidelines for Employers

May 14, 2024 Employment & Labour Relations Bulletin 2 minute read

On April 30, 2024, Canada’s temporary waiver allowing international students to exceed 20 hours of work per week expired. This temporary waiver had been put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic to ease labour shortages.

In light of the expiry of this temporary waiver, employers should be aware that any international students employed under study permits will need to adjust their work schedules to comply with the old rules, which require that during academic sessions, eligible international students cannot exceed 20-hours of work per week (which is expected to increase to 24 hours per week this September). During regularly scheduled breaks (those breaks that are part of the school’s academic calendar), international students are permitted to work full-time hours. Examples of “regularly scheduled breaks” include winter break or summer holidays.

The weekly limit does not apply to on-campus employers. International students who are working on campus, either for the school, a faculty member, a private business, or a private contractor that provides on-campus services to the school may work are not subject to the 20-hour limit.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, employers are required to exercise due diligence and ensure that they are not allowing foreign nationals to engage in unauthorized or illegal work. In addition to ensuring that these international students are eligible to work off campus, employers should audit their schedules and scheduling practices to ensure that they are not scheduling eligible international students to work beyond the weekly limits.  If an employee is applying for a post-graduate work permit, employers need to ensure that: (a) the employee does not work during the period between the date the employee receives notice that they have completed their program and the date they apply for their post-graduate work permit, and (b) the employee provides the employer with documentation confirming that they have applied for their work permit.

When adjusting hours of work for international student employees, employers should review their employment agreements to ensure compliance. The members of McMillan’s Labour and Employment Group are available to assist with any questions regarding immigration or employment matters.

by Kristen Shaw, Dave J.G. McKechnie, and Claire Wanhella (Articled Student)

A Cautionary Note

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2024

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