Removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19

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Removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19

Temporary rule change aimed at helping health-care facilities, other workplaces under pressure

Ottawa— “Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in health care and other essential service sectors. We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services,” says Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

To help battle the COVID-19 outbreak, starting immediately, the government will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food, or other critical goods.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, workers in certain roles and industries have been under considerable pressure, and the government recognizes that international students who are already present in Canada will help meet the challenges of the pandemic.

For instance, thousands of international students are studying in health- and emergency service-related programs, including many who are nearly fully trained and ready to graduate. This temporary rule change provides health-care facilities with access to additional well-trained workers at a time when they are badly needed.

Quick facts 

  • International students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada’s Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Outbreak to determine if the work the student is doing would allow them to work more than 20 hours per week during the academic session.
  • This temporary rule change will be in place until August 31, 2020.
  • Statistics Canada reported that in 2017–2018, more than 11,000 international students were enrolled in health-care programs at Canada’s universities and colleges, representing about 4% of health-care students at that time.
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