Working as an International Student

Gaining work experience while you are studying can give you a head start on achieving your career goals after you graduate. Each institution defines full-time studies and scheduled breaks in compliance with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For the definitions for Douglas College International students, visit Enrollment status for International students page.

Here are some resources to help you understand your enrollment status and working eligibility as a Douglas College student. 

Note: Academic programs do not include ELLA and Academic Foundations Certificate.

Documents Needed for Working

1. Study permit - In some cases, your study permit also act as your work permit. Your study permit must say one of the following:

  • May work 20 hrs per week off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR, or
  • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.

2. Social Insurance Number (SIN) - A Social Insurance Number is required in order to work in Canada. To apply for your SIN, bring your valid study permit and passport and to the nearest Service Canada Office

If you study permit does not specify working conditions, you may request to amend your study permit with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) at no cost. If you are an ELLA student moving into an academic program, you may also apply for a Change of Conditions

IRCC Temporary Policy (November 15, 2022 until December 31, 2023)

IRCC announced that starting from November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, eligible international students who have a valid study permit with off-campus work authorization will be able to work full-time. 

You may be eligible to work off-campus more than 20 hours per week while registered in classes at Douglas College if you: 

  • Are a study permit holder and are studying full-time at Douglas College (or part-time during your final academic session but maintained your full-time status throughout your program), 


  • Have been approved for a study permit but you have not arrived in Canada yet. 

In addition, you must meet all the following requirements: 

  • Your study permit application (including study permit extension) was received by IRCC before October 7, 2022; 

  • Your study permit has the conditions that allow you to work off-campus; 

  • You must be either in Canada or coming to Canada by December 31, 2023. 

For more information about this temporary policy, please visit IRCC website. If you have any questions about your eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact us

Working On-campus

You may work on-campus without a work permit if you:

  • are a full-time student enrolled at Douglas College
  • have a valid study permit
  • have a valid SIN 

"On-campus" is defined as employment facilities within the boundaries of the campus. Students are only allowed to work on the campus at which they are registered as a FT student. Students cannot work at OTHER campuses affiliated with the College. For example, if you are enrolled full-time at the New West campus, you can only work at the New West campus.

The employer can be the institution, a faculty, a student organization, the students themselves (self-employment taking place on campus), a private business, or a private contractor providing services to the institution on the campus. IRCC does not regulate the amount of hours you can work on-campus. 

Working Off-campus

International students can work off-campus if:

  • You are a full-time student enrolled at Douglas College;
  • You are in an academic program that is at least 6 months in duration and that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate;
  • You have a valid study permit;
  • Your study permit has the conditions that allow you to work;
  • You have a valid SIN.

To maintain working eligibility off-campus (and eligibility for a Post-Graduate Work Permit), most students must be enrolled full-time (9 credits minimum) for the Winter and Fall semesters unless it is your last semester. PDD and certificate students must also be enrolled full-time during summer semester. See table above. 

For other programs including ELLA, there is NO minimum enrollment requirement for Summer semester. Students may enrol as PT, FT, or take the Summer semester off.

Eligible students can work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions once you have commenced your program of study. During scheduled breaks eligible students can work full-time regardless of your course load.

Working with a Co-op Work Permit

Co-op work permit is a work permit that allows a student to work more than the working hours (on or off-campus work) authorized by a study permit.  

Who needs a co-op work permit? 

Group A. Students who are accepted into a Co-op Education Program at Douglas (check Career Centre for more details on application for this program) or students who will register in COBA 4885 to complete their program. 

Group B. Students whose programs require them to finish a practicum/internship/working hours to graduate. 

How do you apply for a co-op work permit? 

For group A (students in Co-op Education Program or COBA 4885 students) 

  1. Contact Career Centre to learn details about how you can apply to the co-op program or contact your program coordinator/chair for approval to register in COBA 4885; 

  1. Once you are admitted in the co-op program or approved to register in COBA 4885, Career Centre will share the list of participating students with Douglas International for us to issue you the co-op support letters. You DO NOT need to request this letter from us.  

For group B (students whose programs require practicum/internship/working hours to graduate) 

  1. You should apply for your co-op work permit along with your initial study permit application. Make sure your LOA has such working requirement mentioned in Box 24 on your Letter of Acceptance (LOA). You should indicate that work is an essential part of your studies in the Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada (IRCC) questionnaire (see the guide for more instructions) and submit your LOA as a proof for co-op letter in the application. Make sure you receive a co-op work permit along with your initial study permit at the Port of Entry when you land in Canada. 

  1. If you did not receive a co-op work permit and you have already commenced your studies at Douglas, you should contact us.  

  1. If you changed your program to a program that requires to finish a practicum/internship/working hours to graduate, please make sure you request a LOA for this new program. You should indicate that work is an essential part of your studies in the IRCC questionnaire (see the guide for more instructions) and submit your LOA as a proof for co-op letter in the application.  

Application Guides 

Douglas College - Application guide

Douglas College - Questionnaire guide    

Douglas College - IMM 5710 form guide     

Tips for IMM 5710 form    

Application Fee 


What do you need to know about this co-op work permit? 

  1. You need to hold a co-op work permit before you start working on the practicum/internship/working hours required by your program. 

  1. The work permit issued to you by IRCC will ONLY authorize you to work for these specific internship hours and no other types of work (i.e. regular on/off Campus work).   

  1. To perform the required working by your program, you may work full-time during the semester while holding a co-op work permit. However, it is important that you track your hours regularly. When you reach the required amount of work, you must stop using the co-op work permit.    

  1. If you decide to continue for the same employer after completing the required amount, you must follow your off-campus working eligibility hours (i.e. maximum 20 hours per week during an academic semester, see more details under Working Off-Campus) - you still need to meet all Douglas College and IRCC requirements.   

  1. As a study permit holder, you are required to be actively pursuing your studies toward successful completion of your program and your focus should be on your studies - not working.   

  1. You may also need a medical exam for this co-op work permit application. Please check here for more details or contact us through webform

Co-op work permits and off-campus work authorization

From November 15, 2022, to December 31, 2023, you may not need to apply for a co-op work permit. You don’t need a co-op work permit to complete your co-op placement if you meet all of the following conditions: 

  • You have a valid study permit and IRCC received your application for this study permit on or before October 7, 2022. 

  • Your study permit shows that you’re authorized to work off campus. 

  • You’re eligible to benefit from the temporary policy change to work more than 20 hours per week while class is in session. 

  • Your co-op placement ends by December 31, 2023 and your co-op placement is completed before the expiry date of your current study permit. 

If your co-op placement ends after December 31, 2023, or if you aren’t eligible for the temporary policy change or your study permit does not authorize you to work in your practicum field, you need to apply for a co-op work permit.  

**For more information about this temporary policy change, please visit IRCC website or contact us

Frequently Asked Questions

You may work full-time off-campus for up to 150 days from the date of your completion letter until the start of the new program only if:

  • met the eligibility requirements to work off campus as per Paragraph R186 (V)
  • have received the completion letter for the first program,
  • have submitted an application to extend your study permit before it expires, or have a valid study permit,
  • have been issued a letter of acceptance to a subsequent program of full-time study at a DLI

*If your new program starts more than 150 days after the completion of your first program, you should leave Canada until your new program begins or apply to change to visitor status.

ELLA students are NOT eligible for working off campus until you commence your academic program.

Yes, unpaid internship/practicum still counts as work. IRCC defines work as an activity for which wages are paid or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.