Advocating for the Extension of Canada’s Full-Time Work Policy for International Students.

Canada should extend the full-time work policy for international students.

International students and an advocacy group are requesting the Canadian government to maintain the permission for them to work full-time, without reintroducing the 20-hour per week limit. This allowance was temporarily granted on November 15, 2022, enabling certain foreign students to work without any hourly restrictions.

High living costs prompted international students to work full-time, aiding Canadian employers facing labor shortages. The temporary policy allowing full-time work for international students ends on December 31, 2023. Thousands of Canadian students await a decision on the 20-hour work limit.

WILL THE POLICY EXTEND?

Former Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in 2022, emphasized the need for Canada to explore all options to meet workforce demands amid rapid economic growth. He considered the policy allowing international students to work full-time as a “win-win” for both students and Canada. Minister Fraser expressed a commitment to evaluating real-world data on the policy’s impact on addressing labor shortages and mentioned the possibility of extending it next year.

In line with this, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) sent survey requests to eligible international students, seeking feedback on their experiences with the full-time work policy. The survey remained open until September 11, 2023.

The IRCC is currently checking how the full-time work policy affects the Canadian economy and considering feedback from international students. If they decide to extend it, we might hear from the IRCC near the end of 2023 or early 2024. This is because the department often takes time to extend policies. If extended, the policy should apply to students arriving in Canada in 2023 and 2024.

Many international students often work over 20 hours, receiving cash payments that go unreported for taxes. This results in the Canadian government losing tax revenue. To address this, making the full-time work permit policy permanent for foreign students would not only be fair but also boost tax revenue significantly.

International students hope that Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will make the temporary suspension of the job requirement a permanent part of the international study program.

In a CBC interview, James Casey, a policy analyst at the Canadian Federation of Students, highlighted that international students face financial challenges due to high living costs. They lack access to federal or provincial loans, grants, or housing aid, leading some to rely on food banks. Casey emphasized a stark contrast in living conditions between international and Canadian students, noting instances of shared beds, single rooms, and homelessness among the former.

โ€œIf this decision is not made permanent, weโ€™re going to have mass amounts of international students being caught up in human trafficking and exploitative labor practices.โ€

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) has listed four reasons why the 20-hour work limit should be lifted on its website:

  1. Typical Job Structure.
  2. Already working more than 20 hours per week.
  3. There is already a precedent.
  4. Flexibility and self-determination.
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