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Studying in Canada – Working while you are a student

Working on campus

As a foreign student, you may work in Canada without a work permit if:

  • You have a valid study permit for Canada, and
  • You will work on the campus of the university or college where you are registered as a full-time student in a degree-granting course of study. Your employer could be your educational institution itself or a private business located on campus.

If you are eligible for on campus employment, an officer at the port of entry to Canada should write the following on your study permit: "May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which the holder is registered in full-time studies.

Graduate assistants/ fellowship students/ teaching assistants

If you are doing graduate level work as a research or teaching assistant, you may work without a work permit in accordance with the terms for working on campus. You may also work at an off campus facility without a work permit under the following circumstances:

  • You have a valid study permit for Canada,
  • The work you will do is strictly related to your research grant,
  • The off campus facility (teaching hospital, research institute, library, etc.) has a formal association or affiliation with the university or college where you study, and
  • The work is directed by a department head or a faculty member.

Healthcare students

If you are a foreign healthcare student (medical, nursing, physiotherapy, etc.) not enrolled in a university or other educational establishment in Canada, you may do a clinical clerkship or medical elective at a Canadian medical teaching institution. You do not require a work permit or a study permit if the main purpose of the work is to acquire training. A normal training practicum should not exceed four months.

All healthcare students wishing to study or work temporarily in Canada must undergo a Medical examination.

Foreign students in residency, extern or fellowship positions in Canadian clinical settings must apply for a work permit.

If you do not need a work permit, follow the steps below to obtain the medical examination form and instructions. Do not use the work permit application kit and document checklist as these are not designed for you and may delay processing.

Step 1.

Determine whether you need a temporary resident (visitor) visa: Countries and territories whose citizens require a temporary resident visa to enter Canada

Step 2.

  1. If you require a temporary resident visa, please find out how to apply in our Visiting Canadasection. In addition to the requirements listed there, please submit:  
    • approval letter from the relevant professional regulatory body in Canada;
    • letter on headed notepaper from the Canadian medical institution you will visit confirming its acceptance for the period of training (e-mails will not be accepted); and
    • two self-addressed envelopes.
  2. If you do not requirea temporary resident visa, please submit:
    • application form (the title of this form is “Application for a Temporary Resident Visa Made Outside of Canada”. Even if you do not require a temporary resident visa, you must fill in this form so that we may issue you medical instructions);
    • two passport photos of yourself (please see our website for photo specifications). Photos must be signed, dated, and taken in the past 6 months. Staple the photos to the application form;
    • photocopy of the identity page of your passport;
    • approval letter from the relevant professional regulatory body in Canada (not required for students destined to Ontario, Alberta or British Columbia);
    • letter on headed notepaper from the Canadian medical institution you will visit confirming its acceptance for the period of training (e-mails will not be accepted); and
    • two self-addressed envelopes.

Step 3.

Once you have submitted your complete application, we will send you a medical examination form so that you can book your medical examination with a Panel Physician. Processing times are the same as for work permit applications where medical examinations are required.

Co-op and internship students

For some Canadian academic programs, work experience is part of the curriculum. Foreign students enrolled in a school in Canada who wish to participate in a co-op or internship program need both a study permit and a work permit. 

The process below only applies if the work term is a requirement of a Canadian school. If you wish to do a work term, internship or on-the-job training in Canada, without being enrolled in a Canadian educational institution, you will need to apply for a work permit (and not a study permit).  The requirements and instructions are listed in our Working in Canada section.

If you are enrolled in an educational institution outside Canada that has a formal exchange agreement with a Canadian educational institution to provide Canadian citizens with reciprocal opportunities to work abroad, then you may be exempt from the requirement to obtain a labour market opinion. Include a copy of the agreement in your work permit application.

Who can apply

To be eligible for a work permit under a co-op or internship program, the following conditions must be met:

  • You must be eligible for a study permit,
  • Your intended employment must be an essential part of your program of study in Canada,
  • Your employment must be certified as part of the academic program by a responsible academic official of the institution,
  • Your co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50 percent of the total program of study, and
  • You are not a medical intern or extern, nor a resident physician (except in veterinary medicine).

How to apply

If you meet the conditions stated above, do not make a separate application for a work permit and do not pay an additional fee for a work permit. Follow the standard procedure to apply for a study permit, with one extra step:

  • In your study permit application, include a letter from the Canadian educational institution stating that employment is an essential part of your program of study. Underline or highlight this information in the letter.

Working off campus

If you study in Canada and want to work off campus, you must apply for a work permit.  This can only be done from within Canada. See the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for information on who is eligible for a work permit and how to apply for one.

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Date Modified:
2012-07-25