Canada has grown its reputation for bringing in masses of international students in the recent years, possibly without having the resources to properly support all of them.

In the midst of the housing crisis, labor shortage, and multiple waves of recession, these incoming students were left to find their footing with limited access to employment opportunities, with most ending up in unskilled labor market working as cashiers, grocery clerks and cleaners.

IRCC, short for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, allows certain international students to work off-campus for a maximum of 20 hours per week under certain conditions. This policy is in place because of two reasons – first, international students, as per IRCC, are coming to Canada to study and such should be the focus of their time here, and second, this policy proved to support international students for a long time.

In the recent years, however, this policy no longer was able to support international students, as many of them experienced food insecurity and were subjected to improper living conditions due to the financial struggles they experience. This was not only because of the limited work opportunities but also because of uncapped international student tuition increases that they weren’t properly informed about before arriving to Canada.

These challenges made it harder than ever for international students to survive in Canada.

In late 2022, as a response to labor shortage and other factors, the immigration department implemented a temporary waiver on this policy which allowed certain international students to work up-to 40 hours per week employment off-campus. This change was celebrated by international students across the country, as it provided an opportunity to separate themselves from the financial burdens they have been experiencing till then.

With the waiver set to expire December 31, 2023, a number of students and post-secondary student support organizations had been hoping for it to be extended and have requested the government on multiple fronts across the 10 provinces. These requests came to fruition on December 7, 2023, as revisions to this temporary policy changes were shared by Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

He announced that the waiver on the 20-hour work limit for international students will be extended to April 30th, 2024. He also stated that options are being discussed for there to be a permanent change to the policy, with the possibility of extending the off-campus work hours to 30 per week. With the cost of living increasing significantly and the uncapped tuition increases international students have to face, this extension is nothing less than a ray of hope to make their dreams of a quality education come true.