Curry: New work rules may be too tempting for international students — and employers

Indeed. Bad policy and makes a mockery as study permits become an immigration stream for low-paid service jobs, pandering to student and business stakeholder groups:

New work rules for international students may be a boon to local employers, but a double-edged sword for the students.

To help address current labour shortages, the federal government says, as of November 15, international students will no longer be restricted to 20 hours of work a week. This will last until the end of 2023, when, presumably, it will be re-evaluated.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser is reacting to the fact that nearly one million job vacancies were reported in the second quarter of this year.

I look back at my own undergraduate days at Carleton University when I worked 20 hours a week at the residence cafeteria, 20 hours or more on the student newspaper, and sat on the residence council.

That was a lot.

As the sports editor, I travelled with the Carleton Ravens basketball team, once on a long train trip through Quebec and New Brunswick to Antigonish, N.S., for the national basketball championships. Carleton was a power even back then, probably top five in Canada. Lately, they have won 16 of the last 19 national championships.

Although I was a varsity basketball player at Bell High School in Ottawa, when I got to Carleton the players were a lot better, and a lot taller.

Did those trips and all that work affect my grades? Certainly. I could have done a lot better.

When I was more mature and working only one full-time job, my grades for my master’s degree were much higher.

Local employers tell me they can’t get enough people to work in restaurants — as chefs, cooks, and servers. If you dine out you have probably seen that restaurant staffs are not up to their full complements.

Our latest restaurant foray was at Lot 88, where we had a wonderful meal and a university student server who really knew her stuff.

She is a Canadian student at Nipissing University and we could tell from her knowledge of the menu items, confident demeanour and sense of humour that she was likely working many hours there. There are no restrictions on how much Canadian post-secondary students can work.

She told us she was working on a second degree, so she obviously could handle working and studying at the same time.

Some aren’t so fortunate and need to study a lot to keep their grades up.

Blurring the lines

It will be tempting, for both students — and employers — to hike the hours now that they can. Some in the immigration industry are fearful that it will devalue study permits, and turn them into work permits.

Both employers and students have to be careful that it doesn’t turn out that way. Employers should not pressure international students to work long hours, and international students should not be eager to work 40-hour weeks while in school.

Study permits are a vehicle to permanent residence for the majority of international students in Canada. After a post-secondary program of two years or more they can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit that is good for three years. They then use that work experience to apply for permanent residence a year or two later through the Canadian Experience Class Express Entry system.

Those fortunate enough to have studied in North Bay, or Timmins, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie or Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario, don’t have to wait that long to apply for permanent residence. They can do it immediately upon graduation, providing they have a year-round full-time job in the community.

That is the beauty of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, which dozens of local graduates are using as their path to permanent residence, and, eventually, Canadian citizenship.

We need those students in the full-time labour force after they graduate. Let’s hope sanity prevails and they don’t use the lure of unlimited hours of work to become workers instead of students.

They came here to study, not work, and get a diploma or degree at the end of it that will help them start a satisfying career. They might have to have that conversation with their employer when pressure is exerted to work more hours.

Source: New work rules may be too tempting for international students — and employers

After feds lift 20-hour work rule for international students, immigration consultant calls move ‘short-sighted’

Worse than short-sighted, makes a mockery of issuing permits for study purposes and essentially is encouraging low wage and low skilled immigration as others have noted. More critical commentary needed and media should not only focus on the activist perspectives:

While the federal government’s move to lift restrictions on how long international students can work in a week is being applauded by many, an immigration consultant in Windsor, Ont., is concerned it could do more harm than good.

In an effort to address Canada’s labour shortage, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Friday it would be expanding employment limits for international students with off-campus work authorization.

Currently, international students are permitted to work 20 hours per week. The only time of year when that restriction does not apply is during scheduled breaks, such as reading week or summer and winter holidays.

Starting Nov. 15 until the end of 2023, there will no longer be an “upper limit” on how many hours they can work. The new directive applies to those who have submitted a study permit application as of Oct. 7, 2022.

“This means that more than 500,000 international students who are already here in Canada are going to be eligible to work more if they choose to do so,” said Fraser.

University of Windsor master student Kenil Maniya said, on any given day, he finds himself with free time that could be better spent making money at his job. But when he’s already worked 20 hours that week, it’s not possible.

“I’m really happy that we can tell our manager we are ready to work more. We are always ready to give our best,” said Maniya.

He added there’s no reason why the federal government should not be using international students who are itching to work to fill the country’s labour shortage.

“When students come, some of them take a loan back in their home country so they have to manage their finances over here,” he said.

“Utilizing the current student resources will make the students happy in Canada.”

According to immigration consultant Amanjit Verma, however, the federal government’s new policy is “short-sighted.”

“The fact that there was a limit of 20 hours was a bit of a blessing in disguise,” said Verma, adding the time restriction helps international students achieve a work-school balance.

She also has concerns about the information international students receive in their home country before coming to Canada and how the new policy may reinforce that.

“I’ve been amazed and saddened by when these students come and tell me the kind of immigration advice they got from their international student advisor who has no idea how IPA (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) and everything else works,” she said.

In Verma’s experience, she said, one of the most common “refusal grounds” for postgraduate work permit applications is a student not able to maintain full-time academic status — and many students do not realize that.

“So if someone who’s now working more than 20 hours, because they’re authorized to do that off-campus, goes part-time or reduces his course load, it will negatively affect his ability to get that work permit that will get him his PR (permanent residency) later on,” said Verma.

“I’m just concerned about repercussions for the students with this new policy,” said Verma.

As for Maniya, the India-born student said he is trying his best to achieve a healthy work-school balance and added he’s just happy he no longer has to circle scheduled breaks from school on his calendar until the end of next year.

“We always ask our boss during those times to please provide us with a full-time schedule,” said Maniya, adding he will often “multitask” and work on school tasks while on the job.

“It’s stressful a bit but lifting the hours will be good for us. It’s nice we don’t have to wait for reading week anymore.”

In a statement, Migrant Workers Alliance For Change applauded the lifting of working hours, saying the group has been campaigning the government to do so in the name of “labour rights and mobility.”

“Removing the limit on hours of work while studying gives student migrant workers the power to leave bad jobs, speak up against exploitation and mistreatment, and freedom and flexibility to make decisions about their work,” the group said in a statement.

Source: After feds lift 20-hour work rule for international students, immigration consultant calls move ‘short-sighted’