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Can a Study Permit be Changed to a Work Permit in Canada?

Completing a credential from a Canadian designated learning institution is a great option for individuals looking to eventually work and settle in the country. At some point in your studies, you may want to start working in Canada. The process of changing your study permit to a work permit will depend on where you are at in your program.

Work while studying

If you are currently enrolled in full-time studies at a Canadian educational institution, you may be eligible to work part-time, or in some cases, full-time.

Study permit holders are permitted to work up to 20-hours per week, or full-time during a scheduled break. You do not need to apply for a separate work permit to work part-time as a Canadian study permit holder. However, it must be indicated on your study permit that you are authorized to work in Canada. If you are eligible to work, but your study permit does not state that you may work or accept employment in Canada, you can apply to have your permit amended.

Certain educational programs in Canada require students to complete a co-op or internship work placement as part of their program of study. If you meet the requirements for a co-op or intern work permit, you may be eligible to work full-time for part of your studies.
Changing to a work permit after completing your studies

After completing a credential at a designated learning institution (DLI), you may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit. Post-graduation work permits are granted to international students upon graduation from a DLI and can be issued for up to three years.

The benefit of a post-graduation work permit is that it is not tied to any specific employer, occupation, or location. This is also known as an open work permit. With an open work permit, you may work in any role, anywhere in Canada.

Upon completing the requirements for your studies, you have 180 days to apply for an open work permit. An application for a post-graduate work permit can be submitted from overseas or within Canada.

Changing to a work permit before completing your studies

If you decide to stop studying in Canada before you have completed your credential, obtaining a work permit in Canada will require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), with few exceptions. That means finding a valid Canadian job offer with an employer willing to support your work permit application by securing an LMIA.

An LMIA demonstrates that the Canadian employer was unable to find a permanent resident or citizen to fill the role. Individuals on a closed work permit are afforded less mobility than those on an open work permit. Unlike an open post-graduate work permit, a closed LMIA work permit is tied to a specific employer, role, and location.

It is important to note that your study permit would no longer be considered valid once you stop studying. As such, you must inform Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that you are terminating your studies. If you do not have status in Canada, you will need to leave the country while waiting for your work permit application to process.

If you are studying in Canada and would like to learn more about your options to transition to Canadian permanent residency, we invite you to complete our free online assessment form.