I Smell an Incongruity: International Students Can Work an Unlimited Number of Hours, But Employment Income Can’t Be Considered in Assessing a Study Permit Application

by Ronalee Carey Law

January 2023

Last month, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser posed in a photo op with international students on the floor of a USP facility. The tweet that accompanied the photo boasted that letting international students work 40 hours a week instead of 20 would have a ‘positive impact on their ability to support themselves financially while studying in Canada.’

The tweet was in reference to a temporary public policy that allows certain students to work full-time during an academic semester.

Aside from wondering how students are supposed to focus on their full-time studies if also working full-time, how does the Minister square this new policy with the legislative prohibition against considering the potential earnings of an international student when assessing their application to study in Canada?

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states: 

Financial resources

220 An officer shall not issue a study permit to a foreign national, other than one described in paragraph 215(1)(d) or (e), unless they have sufficient and available financial resources, without working in Canada to

  • (a)pay the tuition fees for the course or program of studies that they intend to pursue;
  • (b)maintain themself and any family members who are accompanying them during their proposed period of study; and
  • (c)pay the costs of transporting themself and the family members referred to in paragraph (b) to and from Canada.

This provision applies to both initial study permit applications and study permit extension applications.

So, an international student can work full-time to help ‘their ability to support themselves financially while studying in Canada,’ but an IRCC reviewing the study permit application cannot consider this income when determining if they have the financial resources to pay their tuition and living expenses. That officer must deny the study permit extension application if the student cannot show adequate financial means without working in Canada.