1. Authorized Work for Study Permit Holders
  2. Social Insurance Number
  3. Co-op Work Permit
  4. Post-Graduation Work Permit
    1. How and When to Apply for a PGWP
    2. PGWP Validity
    3. Additional Resources
    4. Travel After Applying for a PGWP
  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
  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 authorized by their study permits to do some work in Canada. They don’t require a separate work permit.

However, they must ensure they follow rules established by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for who may work, and where and how much they may work. Unauthorized work can put status in Canada or a future immigration application at risk.

This page provides an overview. Visit the IRCC website for complete and official information about working as an international student. Contact the ISSO if you have questions.

If you would like to work:

  • You must have a valid study permit (or have applied to extend it before the expiry date)
  • Your study permit must have a remark that begins with “May work…” or “May accept employment…”.
  • You must have started your studies at Carleton and be actively studying.
  • You must have full-time student status.
    • Full-time status for undergraduate students means completing at least academic 1.5 credits each term, according to the Undergraduate Calendar 2.1.2.
      • Co-op students are full-time during their co-op work terms.
    • Full-time status for graduate students is explained in the Graduate Calendar, General Regulations, section 7.9.
    • Exceptions — part-time study in one of these situations doesn’t affect authorized work:
      • During a school-scheduled break period.
      • In one (only) final term of your program
  • You must have a Social Insurance Number.

Work for study permit holders is divided into two categories:

  1. On-Campus — On-campus work takes place when the study permit holder is physically on the Carleton campus: main campus, CU@Kanata, or the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre. There is no limit on the number of hours of on-campus work.
    Learn more about working on campus
  1. Off-campus — Only students who are in a program that is at least 6 months long and that leads to a credential (degree or certificate) may work off campus.

Off-campus work is limited to 20 hours per week during school sessions. Students may work full-time off campus during a program break, provided they study full-time before and after that break period. For example, students may NOT work in the summer before they start their classes; 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.

Social Insurance Number

International students must have 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.

An employer must collect your SIN in order to pay you. However, your SIN is confidential and you should not share it with everyone who asks. Learn about when you should provide your Social Insurance Number and how to protect it.

You may apply for a SIN:

  • Online
  • In-person at a Service Canada Centre
  • 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 (option 3) 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 when issuing it, you may 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 a 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 maintained status), your SIN remains valid. You can visit Service Canada to update the expiry date once you have renewed your status.

Co-op Work Permit

Co-operative (co-op) education combines classroom study with paid work experience related to the field of study. Carleton offers a number of graduate and undergraduate co-op programs. Learn more about Co-operative Education at Carleton

Internships may be work that is related to the field of study, but internships are not co-op work if the work is not required to earn the degree. For study permit holders, internships must be authorized as either on-campus or off-campus work.

International students need a co-op work permit before they begin the work placement portion of their co-op program. Many Carleton students apply for their co-op work permit after they arrive in Canada.

A student may apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a co-op work permit:

  • As part of their 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. The application must include a letter from the Carleton Co-op office or a graduate program administrator confirming that the work placement is an essential part of the  program of study.

Carleton is identified as the employer on the work permit, which authorizes the student to work only at their co-op placement and not at any other jobs in Canada.

Additional Resources

IRCC information about co-op work and co-op work permits

ISSO Guide to Applying for a Co-op Work Permit (PDF, 355 KB)

Post-Graduation Work Permit

Many Carleton University graduates will be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after they complete their program of study. The PGWP is an open work permit, which means the holder may work for most employers, anywhere in Canada.

A Carleton graduate may not be eligible if:

  • They studied part time. Exception: Part-time study in one final term only.
  • They were not enrolled for one or more terms.
    • Exception 1: They took a term off and it was a break term for immigration purposes.
    • Exception 2: They left Canada during their break from studies.
    • Exception 3: The break was less than 150 days AND they had an official Leave of Absence from Carleton. Learn more about Leaves of Absence.

You must apply for your 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 and are eligible to graduate.
  • The day that Carleton sends you an email notice that the Senate has confirmed you are eligible to graduate, which is usually 1-2 months after the end of your final school term.

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 students have a study permit that is valid for at least 90 days after the end of their 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. This is one of the requirements if you want to start working as soon as possible.

How and When to Apply for a PGWP

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 may work as authorized by your study permit. 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.
  • Authorized work as a study permit holder ends as soon as Carleton notifies you that you have completed all program requirements and are eligible to graduate.
  • If you can truthfully declare on your application that you have not worked more than authorized as a student, and if you apply for the PGWP while your study permit is valid, you may begin working full-time as soon as you submit your PGWP application. In these particular circumstances, work without a work permit is authorized by Canada’s Immigration Regulations. If your work permit application is refused, you must stop working.

If you leave Canada after you finish school

  • You can apply for the PGWP at any time during the 180-day eligibility period.
  • If the application is approved, you will be issued a TRV or eTA to travel to Canada and 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, whichever you receive first:
  • 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 option 4 showing your degree has been awarded.
  1. Transcript — For online applications, this may be an unofficial transcript obtained from Carleton Central. Note to graduate students: If the course load shown 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.

If you took an authorized break from studies, or were not in Canada for a period, you should provide additional documentation to prove you are eligible for a PGWP.

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

PGWP Validity

If the program of study was at least 2 academic years in length, then the graduate will be eligible for a 3-year work permit. If the program of study was more than 8 months, but less than 2 years in length, work permit validity will be equal to the length of the program.

A PGWP can’t be valid beyond the expiry date of the applicant’s 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.

Additional Resources

Travel After Applying for a PGWP

Many students wish to travel after completing their studies and before starting work, and ask if they will be allowed to return to Canada. In most cases, they can, provided they have valid visa or eTA. IRCC answers this frequently asked question on their website.

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. Someone 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 individuals.

Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners of Students

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

Please note that in February 2024 IRCC announced upcoming changes to open work permit eligibility for spouses. Eligibility will be limited to the spouses and common-law partners of students in graduate (master’s and doctorate) and professional degree–granting programs only. (Spouses and CLPs of students in other levels of study who are already in Canada with an existing C42 work permit may apply to extend it.)

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 visit the IRCC website.

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

Note: 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.

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.
  • 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.

Other Kinds of Work Permits

Learn about other kinds of work permits at the IRCC website.