Stop Work Order for International Students

End of Policy Allowing Work Over 20 Hours Per Week

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government implemented a public policy allowing full-time international students to work off-campus for over 20 hours a week during regular academic sessions. This policy was intended to alleviate labour shortages and facilitate the staffing of many low-wage, low-skilled jobs during the pandemic without corresponding increases in wages. Most of these jobs were considered essential as per Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Outbreak, and at the time, the government was seeking ways to keep these positions occupied.

As Canada and the rest of the world were recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian economy continued to face significant labour shortages. To address Canada’s labour market needs temporarily, the Government implemented a public policy in 2022 to allow all eligible study permit holders, to work more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions. The increase in the number of hours students could work also allowed students to offset rising costs of living. This policy was due to expire on December 31, 2023, but the expiry date was extended until April 30, 2024.

Public sentiment has changed against international students, who are now perceived by some as having contributed to the housing shortage. The government has also indicated that the economy has recovered from the pandemic and labour shortages are not acute.  Consequently, the government is now reverting to some of the pre-pandemic requirements for study permit holders as it considers the primary purpose of the International Student Program to be for students to study in Canada. Considering this, the government has rolled back multiple measures for international students, one of them being that it will not extend the public policy allowing international students to work over 20 hours per week during regular academic sessions.

  • As of May 1st, 2024, full-time international students will only be allowed to work 20 hours per week off-campus during regular academic sessions.
  • There is no limit to the number of hours an international student can work off-campus during a regularly scheduled break, such as the summer break.
  • Part-time international students cannot work off-campus unless they were studying full-time during all previous semesters but are now studying part-time in their final semester.
  • On-campus work is not affected, and international students can work an unlimited number of hours on the campus of their institution.

24 Hours Per Week in Fall 2024

The government also announced that in fall 2024, full-time international students will be able to work up to 24 hours per week off-campus. The government has settled on this number to strike a balance between allowing students to pay for their studies and living expenses, and to focus on their studies as the purpose of their stay in Canada.

Is this a Good Thing of a Bad Thing?

The policy to allow students to work beyond 20 hours per week was viewed by some as potentially detrimental to international students that might have struggled to keep up their full-time studies and full-time work at the same time. In some instances, international students may have jeopardized their ability to secure a post graduation work permit (“PGWP”) if they were forced to drop courses and were unable to maintain full-time studies. Although this change may not be welcomed by students and businesses that have relied on students working full time while attending school full time, in the end it may be in the students’ best interest to focus on their studies and ensure they are able to be qualify for a PGWP.

In the past this policy has primarily relied on voluntary compliance. There is a risk that some employers and students dependent on the extra hours of work, will chose not to abide by the new policy. This could have consequences for both, since it is an offence to employ someone unauthorized to work in Canada or to work without authorization. There are also potential immigration consequences to students that do not follow the conditions of their study permits. It remains to be seen whether the government intends to or will need to take extra measures to ensure the policy is followed.

If you or any of your employees will be affected or have questions about these announced changes, reach out to one of our professionals today for a consultation. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416-368-1111) or via email:;;;;;