Changes to Canada’s International Student Program mean that those coming to Canada to study will be allowed to work off campus without a work permit or waiting period.
With the changes that came into effect on June 1, international students will now be able to work part-time during the school year and full-time between semesters. To be eligible for off-campus work, students must have a valid study permit and be attending classes full-time. No work permit is required.
TRUSU international students’ representative Meshari Alanazi had a point to make when acknowledging how helpful this change will be.
“International students pay almost triple for tuition, and it has been increasing constantly. It’s going to help them a lot to be able to pay tuition and their debts,” Alanazi said.
Most students want to work, he said, but it hasn’t been easy for them to do so.
Prior to these changes, students could work on campus immediately, but had to wait six months before applying for a separate work permit that would allow them to work elsewhere.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think it gives students the opportunity to work in-between terms and have the capacity to become more part of the community. I think it helps them all around,” said Kamloops Immigrant Services executive director Paul Lagace.
Kamloops Immigrant Services works to support those new to Canada and offers settlement counselors to those with questions.
“They’ll sit down with them and explain to them what they need and how they need to go about getting what they require,” Lagace said.
Lagace anticipates that Kamloops Immigrant Services will serve students looking for off-campus work in the fall, but notes that the job search is their responsibility.
As for which jobs will be available, Lagace said like traditional student jobs, they’ll primarily be in the food service industry.
“The unfortunate thing is that these are low-paying jobs,” he said. “And very often, not to be critical of Canadian residents, but I hear it all the time, where the Canadian person might say ‘immigrants are coming in and taking our jobs.’
“Well, they’re not. They’re taking the jobs that you don’t want and that you’re not taking. Some Canadians prefer being on assistance to working for minimum wage. They’re willing to work, yes, for a lower income, but they’re willing to work – so they’ll take the jobs. Everyone has an equal opportunity to access jobs.”
Lagace also emphasized the importance of having a strong grasp on the English language, noting it as one of the most important skills for both employment and future immigration efforts. This is especially important in the food service industry.
Alanazi plans on holding a workshop to help international students work out the new rules and has set a date for Oct. 8.
Watch for further event information on the TRUSU website by visiting www.trusu.ca.