International Students Able to Exceed 20 Hour Work Week Limit During COVID-19
With COVID-19 putting essential workers like healthcare and grocery store staff out on the frontlines of this global pandemic, the federal government is turning to international students to help fill labour gaps in industries deemed essential.
According to a press release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on April 22, the federal government has issued a rule change that allows study permit holders to work above the maximum 20 hours per week while classes are in session. The only stipulation is that they must be working in an essential service.
- Critical infrastructure
- Food supply
- Supply of other critical goods
- Energy and utilities
- Information and Communication Technologies
This rule change is effective immediately and will be in place until August 31, 2020.
The intention is to help healthcare facilities and other essential services cope with the strain in resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the rule change, international students with valid study permits were only permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours a week for the duration of their studies.
But now, the nearly 11,000 international college and university students studying in health and emergency service related programs – many of which at the tail-end of their studies and close to graduation – will be able to gain valuable work experience in their field while providing health-care facilities with badly needed support during this global crisis.
Students studying and working in other essential sectors will also be able to provide much-needed assistance.
“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in healthcare and other essential service sectors. We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services,” said Canadian Immigration Minster Marco Mendicino in the IRCC press release.
Furthermore, another recent COVID-19 related rule change will allow international students forced to take online courses due to COVID-19 to obtain a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after completing their studies. Prior to the change, study permit holders were required to complete a full-time post-secondary program with in-class coursework in order to be eligible for a PGWP.
Students that are unsure if their program or line of work qualifies them as an essential worker and allows them to work more than 20 hours a week can consult with the federal government’s guidelines on essential services.