1. Authorized Work for Study Permit Holders
  2. Social Insurance Number
  3. Co-op Work Permit
  4. Post-Graduation Work Permit
  5. Open Work Permits for Spouses and Common-Law Partners
    1. Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Students
    2. Open Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Skilled Workers
    3. Temporary Policy Expanding Eligibility for Family Members of Temporary Workers
  6. Other Kinds of Work Permits

Kindly note that the information on this web site does not, and is not intended to constitute legal advice, and instead all information, content and material is for general information purposes only. Readers should contact and consult with an authorized immigration representative to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.  No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from an authorized representative in the relevant jurisdiction and with expertise in immigration law.  Only your authorized representative can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. The content and information are provided “as is;” and no representations are made that the content or information is accurate, complete or error-free. Any liability is expressly disclaimed and Carleton University will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the use or reliance on the information or content.

Authorized Work for Study Permit Holders

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.
  • You must have a Social Insurance Number.

Work for students is divided into two types, with different rules.

  1. 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

  1. 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.

Social Insurance Number

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.

  1. You may apply for a SIN online
  2. You can apply in person for a SIN at a Service Canada Centre
  • Gatineau Service Canada, 210 Champlain Street, Gatineau
  • 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
  • When Service Canada representatives visit Carleton — Visit ISSO or check our Events listing to learn upcoming dates.

To apply for a SIN you need these documents:

  • 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-op Work Permit

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.

ISSO Guide to Applying for a Co-op Work Permit (PDF, 316 KB)

Learn more about co-op work permits.

Post-Graduation Work Permit

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 become invalid 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.

  1. Letter confirming completion of the program of study – This may be one of the following options:
  • Confirmation of Eligibility to Graduate Letter — Students can get this letter from Carleton Central once their audit indicates “All Requirements Identified Below Have Been Met”.
  • 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.)
  1. 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.

Students with a hold preventing them from accessing documents from Carleton Central should contact the ISSO to discuss options.

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.

Open Work Permits for Spouses and Common-Law Partners

An open work permit (OWP) allows the holder to work at most jobs, anywhere in Canada. One does not need a job offer to apply for an OWP. However, they must be eligible for one of Canada’s work permit programs. See IRCC information Who Can Apply for an Open Work Permit?

The principal foreign national, also called the principal applicant, is the first person of a couple to obtain a study or work permit. They will remain principal for future applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The roles cannot be switched between the members of the couple.

Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Students

Spouses or common-law partners of full-time Carleton students may be eligible to apply for an open work permit (OWP), work permit code C42.

The spouse or common-law partner may apply as an accompanying family member before coming to Canada; or, if they are already in Canada, they may apply for the work permit as an extension of status.

It is possible to apply for a study permit and an OWP together in one family application before coming to Canada. The applicant for a study permit should indicate during the set-up questionnaire that begins an online application that they have an accompanying family member who wishes to work in Canada. The study permit application list will be followed by the work permit application list.

The spouse or common-law partner of a Carleton University student must demonstrate in their application for an OWP that:

  • They are in a genuine relationship with the principal applicant.
  • The principal applicant has a valid study permit or has received initial approval for a study permit.
  • The principal applicant is studying on a full-time basis while physically resident in Canada or intends to do so.

The OWP will be approved only if the study permit application is approved. The work permit is usually valid for the same period as the principal applicant’s study permit, subject to passport expiry date.

Should you have additional questions, please check the IRCC website.

Open Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Skilled Workers

Spouses or common-law partners who held an open work permit (OWP) when the principal applicant was a student may be eligible for a new OWP when the principal applicant transitions to a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), provided the principal applicant is working in Canada.

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers in Canada may apply for an OWP, work permit code C41. The application requires proof of a genuine relationship with the principal applicant, and also proof that the principal applicant (the former student) is:

  • Authorized to work in Canada, either as a work permit holder, or without a work permit according to IRPR section R186, except paragraph (v) or (w).
  • Authorized to work in Canada for a period of at least 6 months after the spouse or common-law partner’s OWP application is received.
  • Employed in a high-skilled occupation (TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3) of Canada’s National Occupational Classification.
    • Note: A temporary public policy as of January 2023 allows family members of workers in lower-skilled positions to apply for OWPs. See below.
  • Physically residing or planning to physically reside in Canada while employed.

The PGWP and OWP applications may be submitted together, provided that all points of eligibility are met at the time. The OWP will be approved only after the PGWP is approved.

If the principal applicant is not working when they apply for their PGWP, their spouse or common-law partner can’t apply for an OWP at that time.

  • If they have a previous work permit, it remains valid to its expiry date, even though the principal applicant is no longer a student.
  • If their work permit is about to expire, the spouse or common-law partner may have to apply to remain in Canada as a visitor, so that they can maintain valid temporary resident status until the principal applicant is employed.

Should you have additional questions, please check the IRCC website.

Temporary Policy Expanding Eligibility for Family Members of Temporary Workers

Starting January 30, 2023, and as a temporary measure for 2 years, family members of most foreign workers, in both high- and low-skilled occupations, can apply for an open work permit.

Learn more at the IRCC website.

Other Kinds of Work Permits

Learn about other kinds of work permits and pathways to Canadian permanent residence after studying in Canada.