Published: 26th October 2022
Canada lifts 20-hour work restrictions! Students, experts hail move, but uncertainty looms ahead
The lift on the restriction is temporary and will come into effect from November 15, 2022, continuing till December 31, 2023. So, what's next?
"This change comes as welcome news for students, their parents and employers across Canada," says Saurabh Arora, Co-Founder and CEO of University Living, a global student accommodation marketplace, speaking to EdexLive about the recent lift on the 20-hour work limit for international students. Many agree that this would help Indian students immensely. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Department of the Canadian Government recently announced that students would no longer be limited to working off-campus jobs for 20 hours a week, as was the case earlier. The lift on the restriction is temporary and will come into effect from November 15, 2022, continuing till December 31, 2023, it was announced.
Students who have applied for study permits in Canada before October 7, 2022, would be able to avail of this new policy. "Many students discover that they have excess capacity or that the workload of their present courses gives them the freedom to work longer hours at their off-campus jobs. This new regulation is relevant to the over 500,000 international students presently enrolled in programmes in Canada as well as those who have already submitted applications for study permits," Saurabh explains.
The move has effaced due to an ongoing labour crunch in Canada. And Indian students, who form one of the country's largest communities, stand to benefit directly from it, opines Ankur Dhawan, President, upGrad Abroad. The first thing for students to gain from the IRRC's new policy is better financial assistance.
The money factor
"Working in Canada is critical for Indian students because it allows them to pay their education loans, meet the daily living expenses and gain work experience while studying," says Piyush Kumar, Regional Director, South Asia & Mauritius, IDP Education, a leader in international education services. And Ankur explains that the income from the 20-hour work barely covers these expenses, more so with increasing global inflation.
The students agree. Sahil Sachdev, a student pursuing an MBA from the University of Canada West, says, "Vancouver being one of the costliest cities to live in, this will be highly beneficial for every student here to work as much as possible and enjoy the quality of life while studying.” Meanwhile, Hanshita Dagar, another student pursuing Human Resources Management from Conestoga College, Ontario, says, "Sometimes, I've even had to curb my needs solely because of not being able to earn enough due to the limited number of working hours," adding that she would now be able to solve her problems.
Meanwhile, Amit Singh, Founder, UniScholarz, a study abroad counselling platform, denotes that the move will "allow more positions to be available and improve students’ chances for upward mobility”. Saurabh additionally points out that earning extra would help the students battle the effects of a depreciating rupee. "Converting INR to CAD (Canadian Dollar) is stressful for us here," states Varsha Vagheesan, a student from the University of Ottawa. "So, when we earn in CAD, it gives us some relief," she adds. And Dhiksha Ramesh, a Global Business Management student from Conestoga College is happy that students can pay off their loans faster now.
Adding to their repertoire of skills
"Working part-time gives students experiential market knowledge and aids their networking skills. It also allows them to wield skills learned in the classroom into the dynamism of the Canadian market. No cap on the work hours will help students develop purpose and mastery over a skillset, which gets hindered when work hours are limited," says Ankur. "Furthermore, it will directly translate to increased employability upon course completion and ease in choosing the right Higher Education Institution (HEI) and course. The cost barriers push many international students to choose diplomas over degrees. However, we can now hope that the reform will give students an impetus to make the correct and desired higher-education choice," he adds.
The other experts feel the same and stress the importance of developing a work portfolio while studying. "There are a number of work permit programs for international students that make working in Canada possible. Working in Canada can go a long way towards helping as one can establish business contacts for the future and can even help to immigrate after graduation," Saurabh tells.
Some good advice
"The best way to utilise this period might not be by increasing the quantity of extra work, but the quality of work students choose. Today, a number of applicants miss out on the best internships or part-time jobs in their chosen field because of the limited number of hours they can devote to their work," Amit says. He adds that students should now focus on using this opportunity "not as a means to do the same work for longer, but to find bigger and more engaging work opportunities to gain truly meaningful experience and expertise".
But, here's the catch
"While the move has been unanimously welcomed, a section is concerned about students getting overworked. Students enrolled in challenging programs with a demanding workload may face issues completing their courses on time. This increases the risk of returning home without a degree," Ankur states. And students also share similar concerns. "If students concentrate more on part-time jobs, they might lose focus on their studies. We should know our priorities and focus on our studies first," says Dhiksha. She explains that many students in Canada are usually engaged in demanding jobs like working in restaurants and for Uber to survive.
Mudit Yadav, pursuing Masters in Global Business Management from Fleming College says, “The old policy was better only because it would let students focus more on their school work rather than skipping school and working for the sake of money and harming their education."
"Also, the future of the policy is uncertain. Nothing can be said about its continuity once the labour crunch has been dealt with," the upGrad Abroad President adds.
Conclusion after the trial
"We are fortunate that we can now work more hours and save more. But we must manage academics hand in hand. So I will only know if I try it out," Varsha says. "When I heard the news, I was happy and started planning how to balance studies and work. But I can conclude only after landing," Dhiksha, who has been selected for the May 2023 intake, echoes.