Citizenship and Immigration Canada has passed a number of changes to the study and work permit system that will affect international students. The International Education Centre held an information session last Wednesday to announce the changes.
International student development officer Joanna Mackie and international student immigration advisor Cristina Puha hosted the session, presenting policy changes made by the CIC offices in June. The changes will affect current and future international students at UTM.
In order to apply for a study permit, international students will now be required to submit a letter of acceptance from their Designated Learning Institution, including their DLI’s number (U of T’s is O19332746152). Students may also be asked for their DLI number when applying for a visa.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada wants to keep track of “whether students are actually enrolled in and pursuing their program of study,” said Puha.
Students with study permits are required to remain enrolled in their degree program. They can take breaks during their undergraduate career, but must prove that they intend to continue their studies towards a degree program. Study permits are only valid until 90 days after an international student graduates—that is, when her last marks become available or when she receives a letter saying she has completed her studies.
To work on or off campus, international students are not required to have a work permit. However, students must have a valid study permit as a full-time student in a degree program of six or more months. International students cannot work off campus if they are part-time students. Their hours are limited to 20 per week during the term and full-time during the summer and winter breaks.
If a degree requires a co-op or internship program and the position does not exceed 50% of the total degree requirements, an international student can apply for a work permit. There is no fee for the permit; however, a letter from the student’s academic department head is required to say that the program is essential for the student to complete his or her studies. Students in experiential learning opportunities are advised to drop by the IEC office and consult with a student advisor about obtaining a work permit.
“The process has really been simplified,” Puha said. “Especially for international students who want to work in Canada, since work permits are not required.”
Any international student who wants to work only needs a passport and the new study permit under the new system. With the previous system of permits, they also needed a letter from the Office of the Registrar.
International students can also apply for work after graduation by applying for a post-graduate work permit after completing their undergraduate education, their master’s, or their Ph.D. Students can only apply for post-grad permits once, within 90 days of graduation, and must be working within eight months of graduation. Special cases are under the discretion of the CIC.
With the new work permit, international students just need their passports to apply for a social insurance number, which is required to work in Canada. With the previous system, students also needed a letter from the registrar.
Finally, the university is now required to update the current registration status of all international students to the CIC offices. The offices will keep a record of students’ course loads, such as if they are full- or part-time, or not currently studying.
“The citizenship and immigration offices are really interested in having students come here to study,” stressed Puha. “Not for any other purposes.”
For more information on the changes that the CIC has made to policies concerning international students, students are encouraged to drop in to the IEC’s office hours. The office will be moved to the old MBiotech office (DV 2071) on October 31. Students can also look forward to an IEC bulletin board on the Five-Minute Walk and joint information sessions with the Career Centre. Inquiries for the IEC can be sent to email@example.com.