The federal government is temporarily lifting the work limit for international students next month, which Ottawa students affected by the policy say is long overdue.
On November 15, the federal government will remove the 20-hour-per-week limit on off-campus work during classes.
The pilot project, in effect until the end of 2023, aims to address labor shortages in Canada.
“This is good news for a lot of students,” said Landry Wamba, president of the University of Ottawa’s International Students Association and a fourth-year university international student from Cameroon.
“But it’s not for everyone.”
A welcome change
Gobin Singh, a uOttawa graduate who now works as a software developer, wishes the cap had been lifted when he was in school.
Enrolling and attending school in Canada already comes with a hefty tuition premium for international students, Singh said, and the change would have helped ease the financial burden on him and his family.
Often, he says, the work students find simply covers the cost of their living conditions.
Omar Flores, a recent Carleton University graduate who now works for Google, said some international students would work under the table to make up for any financial shortfall.
“I think that led to a lot of situations where students were kind of mistreated or were in positions where they didn’t have insurance,” he told CBC Radio. All in one day Last week.
If caught working over the limit, international students previously faced the risk of deportation.
All in one day10:04Former international students say lifting of 20-hour work limit should be permanent
According to Wamba, lifting the limit means international students can now earn and save money for their own tuition and rent without breaking any rules.
“We pay more than three times as much as local students or Canadian permanent residents,” he said.
The extra money is especially critical right now, Wamba said, because many student families have been financially hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While pleased with the news, Wamba added that he hopes this is not just a short-term measure – and that the government considers the welfare of international students once the companies will no longer have difficulty finding workers.
Worries about overwork
Wamba also said that to cope with the rising cost of living in Canada, some international students may overwork themselves.
He is particularly worried about students who follow difficult programs with heavy workloads.
“Some students may put a lot of effort into their work, they don’t pay attention to their studies…and they may fail one of their classes,” he said.
This can be a costly mistake because not only do they have to pay for it, Wamba said, but their student visas also allow them only a limited time to graduate.
If they cannot complete their courses on time or afford to extend those visas, they risk returning to their home countries empty-handed.
Some students like Ailing Li, however, say they won’t benefit from the new rules.
A doctoral student at the University of Ottawa, Li said she tries to balance her studies with her job by limiting the hours she works at a bubble tea shop to 15 hours a week.
“I have classes to take, I have research to do, and I already don’t have too much time to do my part-time job,” she said.
Despite everything, she is excited by the news.
“Companies want people with longer working hours, so they will prefer Canadian citizens” when hiring, Li said. [it harder for] international students.”
Like Wamba, Li also hopes the goal of helping international students will continue once the labor shortage is resolved.
“It feels good to feel free to work as an international student,” she said.