Fix Study and Work Permits

Remove the 20-hour work limit and industry restrictions for study permit holders

As per IRCC regulation, international students are limited to 20 hours of off-campus work per week during their studies. This limit can not be exceeded other than during scheduled holiday breaks, and the unused hours can not be carried forward. This restriction causes many difficulties for migrant students both in supporting their studies financially and gaining the experience needed for their professional development. We demand to lift these restrictions that hold migrant students back from achieving work experience to prepare for their future.

Make the PGWP renewable

Migrant students who have graduated from public educational institutions can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), another temporary permit. While migrant students are an essential labour force, the PGWP’s non-renewable and once-in-a-lifetime nature makes it difficult for us to obtain decent positions or fair treatment at work and qualify for PR. The PGWP is time-limited permission that cannot be extended, and we must satisfy the PR requirements before it expires. Otherwise, we are compelled to leave Canada despite making significant sacrifices to establish our home here. Aside from severe employment conditions, one of the prerequisites for a PR application is an English or French exam. Migrant students who have previously attended English or French colleges and universities must retake costly language examinations. This is mainly for the financial benefit of language institutes. Furthermore, exclusions based on medical, financial or criminal eligibility are cruel and unjust.

Ensure post graduate work permits (PGWPs) for private college students

According to the IRCC, international students who study in a program at a private career college are ineligible for the PGWP. This rule prevents many international students from working in Canada after their studies and eventually attaining PR status that will help to address Canada’s labour shortages. BC alone will face a labour shortage with “83,000 job openings that need to be filled over the next ten years”. By expanding PGWP eligibility to private college students, it will address labour shortages, create thousands of jobs and generate an estimated revenue of $120 million every year.

In addition to addressing labour shortages, it is only fair for international college students who invest time and money that sustains colleges’ budgets to have the opportunity to stay, work and settle as permanent residents after they graduate.

Ensure the right to take a leave of absence for migrant students without endangering their PGWP

****Content Warning: The first two links in this section contain articles on police intervention during mental health crises, mental health struggles and suicides among university students.****
University and college students across Canada face an increasing mental health crisis caused by increasing tuition, living affordability and pressure of academic performance, on top of being young adults figuring out their career path, identity and place in the world. International students were even more at risk when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Unlike domestic students, international students cannot take a leave of absence from their studies without risking their eligibility for a PGWP even if they are suffering from mental or physical health issues, having to deal with a family emergency, etc. 
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced earlier this year that international students will be required to have an authorized leave of absence from their Designated Learning Institution (DLI) to take a leave from their studies. Despite this, there is no existing official process or policy in place for international students to do so at their respective DLI at this moment. The mental and physical health and wellbeing of international students during their studies should be prioritized. We deserve time to rest, recharge and visit our families. We demand international students be allowed to take a leave of absence from studies without requiring authorization from their DLI and the risk of losing eligibility for a PGWP.