Why can't I work full time while studying?

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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Dear Mr Brown,

Thank you for assisting me with my study permit to attend Centennial. I can't believe there are hundreds of Jamaicans attending this school alone. I think our small island is one of the top countries enrolled.

I have a question about working while studying. I know you said that students can only work up to 20 hours per week during studies, but I know of some students who work more than that. What would be the consequence for working more than the allowed time?


Dear DP,

Thank you very much for your message. I always appreciate feedback. With regards to working on a study permit, I maintain that international students are only allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while classes are in session. However, it is possible to work full time during the breaks. The stipulation is to ensure that students have enough time for full time studies. Otherwise, students would wish to work full time and study part-time.


To illustrate the point, I can tell you of recent reported cases in which international students have been arrested and faced deportation regarding the issue of exceeding the maximum number of hours an international student in Canada is allowed to work each week. I admit that for a police officer to make an investigation and arrest seems overzealous.

I understand that working may be the only way that students can afford to remain in school as international students. In many cases funds and savings are exhausted over time. However, a student may be inadmissible to Canada for breaching the terms of a study permit.

In order to work full time one would need a work permit. The primarily purpose of a study permit is to pursue full time studies.


Many critics have voiced concerns regarding the increasing number of students that are being granted study permits without the corresponding support system in place to ensure they are properly housed and employed. There were 315,915 study permit holders in Ontario in 2018, compared to 199,920 in 2015. British Columbia had 128,820 in 2015 and 155,455 in 2018. Across Canada, there were more than 600,000 international study permit holders in 2018. Some advocate that students should be allowed to work full time, as long as they are registered full time students in good standing.

Co-Op Work Permit

Unfortunately, full time work is not permitted on a study permit. For co-op work study programmes, international students would have to obtain a separate co-op work permit to pursue work as an intrinsic part of the curriculum of the programme. Statistically, the certainty of being caught will influence one's decision more than the severity of the penalty. However, due to the fact that studying in Canada is a significant investment in terms of money and time, I would advise students to strictly adhere to the regulations.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, The Study & Work program, Visas or Appeals, etc.

— Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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