New decisions for international students as off campus work limit lifts  

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Harsh punishments for working over hours existed before, but now that there’s a labour shortage it doesn’t matter? damian entwistle via Flickr manipulated by Lee Lim

Studies encouraged to remain a top priority 

In October, Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced that the 20-hour work cap for international students working off campus would be lifted to help labour shortages existing across the country. But the University of Regina Student Union (URSU) International Students’ board representative Parampreet Singh said the federal government’s decision gives a big choice to international students wanting to work more hours.  

“It is a neutral thing, like all the international students are struggling from such a long time to work more than 20 hours,” said Singh.  

The pilot period began November 15 this year and will end December 31, 2023. There are currently 3,000 international students who study at the University of Regina. International students can work on campus up to and exceeding 20 hours. While many of them may work on campus, or not at all, this will open doors for students to work off campus for more hours.  

“I appreciate [that] the Canadian government has taken this step for international students,” said Singh.   

Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said he does not expect the change to be abrupt. “I don’t expect that every international student is going to suddenly start working full-time hours,” Fraser said to CBC on October 7. “It’s going to give them the flexibility to do so and it’s going to help employers tap into a new pool of labour.” 

International students across Canada can currently work full time hours during scheduled breaks.  

Singh explained this could help students who are competing with the high cost of living and even higher tuition prices. At the University of Regina, international students pay three times as much as domestic students.  

“It was pretty hard surviving previous times,” said Singh. “There’s a lot of stress as international students, they were studying in the university and paying their tuition fees by themselves.”  

However, Singh is still recommending that international students put education as their top priority. “I would say just focus on your studies,” he said. “Because studies [are the] first priority to all the international students. Just work […] so that you can live a really good life, not a stressful [one]. Don’t put too much on your plate.” 

International students who have worked over the 20-hour limit have previously been faced with harsh punishments. On the ‘Work off campus as an international student’ page on the Government of Canada website, it stated: “Working more than 20 hours per week is a violation of your study permit conditions. You can lose your student status for doing this, and may not be approved for a study or work permit in the future. You may also have to leave the country.” 

Applying for a work permit is not difficult according to Singh, and is accessible online. Singh said that immigration officers make the rules for international students very clear, but always encourages students to go over rules every once in a while.  

“The rules are very much clear,” he claimed. “If some students are facing issues they can ask the immigration officers here in Canada,” said Singh.  

Singh currently works part-time off campus, but said that he will not be adding additional hours with finals around the corner. Singh said other international students he has spoken with will not be adding any more additional hours to their workload either, but are glad they have the freedom to choose, at least until the end of next December.  

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