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2006-01

Off-Campus Work Permit Program Launched

Ottawa, April 27, 2006 — Foreign students studying in Canada can apply for off-campus work permits effective immediately, the Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced today.

“Foreign students make a significant contribution to Canada,” said the Minister. “They enrich campus and community life with new ideas and new cultures, and they are an important pool of potential future skilled workers that Canadian businesses need to remain competitive.”

Foreign students contribute approximately $4 billion a year to Canada’s economy. There are about 100,000 foreign students in Canada who could be eligible for work permits under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program.

The program is not intended to take jobs away from Canadian students. Each applicant will be required to compete for employment on an equal basis with Canadians.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has signed agreements with most provinces to implement the program, and agreements with New Brunswick and the Yukon are currently being finalized. The agreements allow eligible foreign students at public post-secondary institutions to work off-campus for up to 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time during study breaks.

Eligible foreign students can apply for an off-campus work permit immediately, and may be able to work off-campus as early as this summer. The work permit is valid for the duration of their study permit.

“CIC is working in cooperation with the provinces and territories to make Canada a destination of choice by making it easier for foreign students to work in Canada during and after their studies,” said Minister Solberg. “Off-campus work agreements will make it easier for students to gain work experience in the Canadian labour market and earn extra income while studying,” he said.

The Canadian Federation of Students, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, who have all been consulted on the initiative, support efforts to make it easier for foreign students to work in Canada.

“With Canadian work experience, foreign students will be able to integrate into the Canadian labour force more quickly. This will help address skilled labour shortages in Canada,” said Minister Solberg.

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For more information (media only):

Lesley Harmer
Director of Communications
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064
  Marina Wilson
Media relations spokesperson
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 941-7021

Note: Spokespeople for the following organizations are aware of the initiative, and are prepared to comment on the announcement:

Canadian Federation of Students
George Soule
National Chair
(613) 232-7394

Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec
Véronique Martel
Press Secretary
(514) 396-3380

Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Nejat Gorica
Vice-President, Business Development and Technical Cooperation
(613) 746-2222, ext. 3872

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Jeff Pappone
Media Relations Officer
(613) 563-3961, ext. 330

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Backgrounder
Work Programs for Foreign Students

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is helping eligible foreign students gain valuable Canadian work experience by giving them the same opportunity to work as Canadian students.

In 2005, more than 50,000 new foreign students came to Canada to study in post-secondary institutions. On December 1, 2005, there were more than 152,000 foreign students studying in Canada.

Off-Campus Work Permit Program

CIC implemented a pilot Off-Campus Work Permit Program in Manitoba in 2003. Pilots programs were added in Quebec and New Brunswick in 2004. Before these programs were in place, students were restricted to holding jobs on the campus at which they were studying. Following the success of the pilots, the program is now being implemented nationally.

In order to be eligible for the program, foreign students must have a valid study permit, and they must have studied full-time at an eligible public, post-secondary institution for at least six months out of the 12 months preceding their application. Institutions must sign an agreement with the province or territory in which they are located in order to participate in the program. The agreement includes monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure that students retain their eligibility for the program.

Under agreements with the provinces, eligible full-time students who retain satisfactory academic standing can apply to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week off-campus while classes are in session and full-time during scheduled breaks (including summer or winter holidays and reading weeks).

Exchange students, students enrolled in English- or French-as-a-second-language programs, and students who have received awards from the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program, the Government of Canada Awards Program or the Canadian International Development Agency are not eligible for work permits under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program.

About 100,000 foreign students who are studying in Canada could be eligible to apply for work permits under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program.

Post-Graduation Work Program

Until 2003, foreign students who graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada could receive a one-year permit to work in Canada in their field of study if they met the eligibility criteria.

Between 2003 and 2005, CIC implemented post-graduation work permit extension pilot projects in New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Under the pilot projects, students could renew their work permits for an additional year, which allowed them to work for a total of two years in Canada after they graduated. The pilots were replaced by a national post-graduation work program in May 2005.

The Post-Graduation Work Program is available to all eligible foreign students who would like to gain Canadian work experience in their field of study after graduation. In 2005, CIC added a “bonus” year for graduates outside Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver who intend to work outside these three major centres. This helps spread the benefits of immigration to more of Canada’s regions since nearly 80 percent of Canada’s foreign students are enrolled in institutions in Toronto, Montréal or Vancouver.

Other Work Opportunities for Foreign Students

Spouses and common-law partners of foreign students can also apply for work permits if they meet the eligibility criteria (for more information, see the link to the CIC Web site below).

While CIC encourages recent graduates to remain in Canada to help address the shortage of skilled workers and to increase our global competitiveness, many choose to return to their home country after completing their studies. When they enter the work force, they act as ambassadors for Canada and help increase international understanding and cooperation. In addition, they provide good business contacts for Canada and Canadians abroad.

For more information on work opportunities for students, please visit www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work-opps.html.