- Work Privileges for Study Permit Holders
- Social Insurance Number
- Co-op Work Permit
- Post-Graduation Work Permit
- Open Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Study Permit Holders
- Other Kinds of Work Permits
This information was prepared by the ISSO’s Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) as required by the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It has general information and answers some common questions. Please note:
- It is not legal advice.
- Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees Canada(IRCC) is the source of official information, including all recent updates.
- Students should visit the ISSO for immigration information and advice based on their personal details.
Most international students at Carleton are allowed to do some work in Canada without having a work permit. However, there are rules about who may work, and where and how much they may work.
Working when you are not supposed to can put your immigration status at risk. Make sure you understand how the rules apply to you. Visit the ISSO or attend one of our Events, if you have questions.
If you would like to work:
- You must have a study permit.
- Your study permit must have a remark that begins with “May work…” or “May accept employment…”.
- You must have full-time student status.
- What is full-time status for undergraduate students?
- What is full-time status for graduate students? (Graduate Calendar, General Regulations, section 7.9).
- Exceptions — part-time study in one of these situations doesn’t affect your work privileges:
- During a summer break period
- In only one final term before you complete your program
- You must have a Social Insurance Number.
Work for students is divided into two types, with different rules.
- On Campus — This is work for any employer who is located on the Carleton campus. There is no limit on the number of hours.
Learn more about working on campus
- Off Campus — You must be in a program that will earn you a degree, diploma or certificate. Off-campus work is limited to 20 hours per week.
You can work full-time off campus while your program is on a break, but only if you study full-time before and after that break. For example, students may NOT work in the summer before they start their program; or in the summer after they finish their program.
Learn more about working off campus
Students who are eligible for both kinds of work may do both on-campus and off-campus work.
Learn more about working as an international student.
International students need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before they start to work in Canada. The SIN Is a unique identity number used by some Canadian government programs.
Your SIN can be used to access your personal information. Learn about when you should provide your Social Insurance Number and how to protect it.
You can apply in person for a SIN:
- At a Service Canada Centre
- Ottawa Government Service Centre, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario
- Ottawa West Service Canada Centre, Lincoln Fields Galleria, Floor 1, 2525 Carling Avenue. Ottawa, Ontario
- Ottawa East Service Canada Centre, Beacon Hill Shopping Centre, 2339 Ogilvie Road, Ottawa, Ontario
2. When Service Canada representatives visit Carleton — Visit ISSO or check our Events listing to learn upcoming dates
You should bring:
- Your valid study permit
- Your passport
- A Certificate of Enrolment from Carleton Central under “Student Online Applications”
Service Canada will look for one of these remarks printed on your study permit:
- “May work 20 hrs. per week off campus, or full-time during regular breaks, if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR”
- “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria”
If your study permit does not have one of these remarks, and you believe that immigration officials made an error, and you should be allowed to work, then you can apply to have your study permit corrected. There is no fee for this application.
If your study permit says that you may not work, and you have changed your program of study and believe you should now be eligible to work, you may apply to change conditions on your study permit. This is the same application as for extending your study permit. There is a fee for this application.
Your SIN will have an expiry date that matches your status in Canada. As long as you have valid temporary status in Canada (a valid study permit, valid work permit, or implied status), your SIN remains valid. You may need to visit Service Canada to update the expiry date.
Co-operative (co-op) education combines classroom theory with paid work experience related to your field of study. Carleton offers a number of graduate and undergraduate co-op programs.
Learn more about Co-operative Education at Carleton
International students need a co-op work permit before they begin the work placement part of their co-op program.
You may apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a co-op work permit:
- As part of your application for an initial study permit or an extension; or
- As a separate application
There is no fee to apply for a co-op work permit. You will need a letter from the Carleton Co-op office or your department confirming that your work placement is an essential part of your program of study.
Carleton is identified as your employer on the work permit, which authorizes you to work only at your co-op placement and not at any other jobs in Canada.
Learn more about co-op work permits.
Important Note: This information has been updated to reflect changes made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on February 14, 2019.
Most Carleton University graduates will be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after they complete their program of study.
You may not be eligible if:
- You studied part time. Exception: Part-time study in your final term only.
- You were not enrolled for one or more terms.
- Exception 1: You took the summer term off because it was a break for your program.
- Exception 2: You left Canada during your leave from studies.
- Exception 3: Your break was less than 150 days AND you had an official Leave of Absence from Carleton.
You must apply for the PGWP within 180 days after Carleton notifies you that you have completed your program requirements and are eligible to graduate. The 180 days starts on the earliest of the following dates:
- The day that you receive a letter from Carleton confirming that you have completed your program requirements.
- The day that Carleton sends you an email notice that the Senate has confirmed you are eligible to graduate. (See Senate meeting dates.)
You must have had a valid study permit at some time in the 180-day period, but your study permit does not necessarily have to be valid at the time you apply for the work permit.
The ISSO strongly recommends that you have a study permit that is valid for at least 90 days after the end of your final term of study. If you need an extension, you should apply early in your last term. This will ensure that you have a valid study permit when your graduation is confirmed.
If you plan to remain in Canada after you finish school
- You must maintain valid status. Remember that your study permit will expire 90 days after the end of your studies, even if the expiry date printed on it is beyond that.
- Up until Carleton notifies you that you have completed all your program requirements, you have your usual work privileges. It’s important to know that you may not work full-time off-campus. The summer is not an academic break for you if you are not returning to school in the fall.
- Your work privileges as a study permit holder end as soon as Carleton notifies you that you have completed all program requirements.
- You can apply to change your status to visitor at any time. You will still be eligible to apply for the PGWP in Canada within the 180-day window. However, as a visitor, you cannot benefit from the immigration regulation IRPR 186(w) that allows study permit holders to work after they have applied for their PGWP. You will have to wait to receive the study permit. As a visitor, you are also not eligible to be issued a work permit at the border (sometimes called “flagpoling”).
If you leave Canada after you finish school
- You can apply for the PGWP at any time during the 180-day eligibility period.
- After you are approved, the work permit will be issued when you re-enter Canada.
Carleton documents needed to apply for a PGWP
IRCC requires at least two documents to confirm program completion and eligibility for the PGWP.
- Letter confirming completion of the program of study – This may be one of the following options:
- Letter from the Registrar (for undergraduate students); or from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs or their department (for graduate students). Undergraduates should visit the ISSO first, before requesting a letter from the Registrar.
- Certificate of Enrolment showing your degree has been awarded PLUS a copy of your email from Carleton telling you that the Senate has confirmed you are eligible to graduate.(The date on the email establishes your eligibility period for the PGWP.)
- Transcript – For online applications, this may be an unofficial transcript obtained from Carleton Central. Note to graduate students: If the number of courses on your transcript does not clearly establish that you had full-time status, then you should include additional documents, such as historical Certificates of Enrolment. Please visit the ISSO for advice.
IRCC officers may ask for additional documents to determine your eligibility for a PGWP. After you submit your application, check your email frequently. If you don’t reply promptly to IRCC, your application may be refused.
About the PGWP
The PGWP is an open work permit, which means you may work for most employers, anywhere in Canada. You may be restricted from doing certain types of jobs if you have not had a medical exam.
If your program of study was at least 2 academic years, then you will be eligible for a 3-year work permit. If your program of study was more than 8 months, but less than 2 years in length, you will be eligible for a work permit for the same period of time.
Your PGWP can’t be valid beyond the expiry date of your passport. If you initially get a PGWP that is shorter than you are expecting because of your passport expiry, you will be able to apply for the remaining time later, once you have a new passport.
Learn more about applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.
Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students are eligible to apply for an open work permit. They may apply before coming to Canada; or if they are able to enter Canada as a visitor, they may apply for the work permit later.
Learn more about Work Permits for Spouses and Common-law Partners
Learn about other kinds of work permits and pathways to Canadian permanent residence after studying in Canada.