Frequently Asked Questions

Antonio Aragón, Associate Director, International Student Recruitment at St. Lawrence College, is an experienced, compassionate leader with an abundance of knowledge in his profession. A certified Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC), Antonio shares his expertise in this informative FAQ article to help employers onboard international students and job seekers. Read on!


A growing body of evidence links the diversity that results from immigration to gains in innovation, productivity, and market opportunity. Companies with ethnically diverse workforces are more likely to out-innovate and out-perform. According to Deloitte, there is an 80% improvement in business performance when levels of diversity and inclusion are high. Another important result of diversity is broad thought in decision making compared to homogenous groups that often have a default assumption due to like-mindedness. They assume others look and think like they do, which can lead to blind spots in decision-making (Evan Apfelbaum et al, MIT Sloan). New immigrants are entrepreneurial and able to understand unmet needs in different markets. It is also known that they start businesses at a faster rate than born Canadians (David Green et al, Statistics Canada). Immigrants have access to international networks and resources in their home countries as well as knowledge of international markets. Why would employers not take advantage of such an opportunity?

St. Lawrence College prides itself on welcoming students from all over the world. In the last decade SLC has been attracting hundreds of international students from more than 50 countries to study in Kingston, Brockville, and Cornwall. Most of them are keen to gain Canadian work experience and stay in our communities. We encourage employers to consider hiring international students and graduates. Canada is one of few countries in the Western World that is actively looking for immigrants, with over 250,000 newcomers arriving in Canada every year. Independent immigration to Canada used to take a long time to process. Sponsoring a migrant worker was often the only viable option. In January 2015 Canada overhauled its immigration and work permit rules by launching the Express Entry system that is now used for hiring skilled long-term workers.

International Students & Employment in Canada

In addition to their Canadian college credentials, most St. Lawrence College international students and graduates have prior work experience from their home places. Employers have a unique opportunity to:

  • Fill vacancies with qualified people. As demographics change in our communities, it may become more difficult to find people with the skills, knowledge and experience that local businesses need. Recruiting internationally trained workers can help solve that problem.
  • Increase the diversity of the workplace. Internationally trained workers bring cultural richness to workplaces, giving employers a distinct business advantage. They can provide new contacts and introduce fresh ways of working and problem-solving.
  • Increase the reach of a local business. Many internationally trained workers speak languages other than English and have experience with other cultures. This can help businesses develop and compete in new markets or attract new customers.

To be eligible to work in Canada, International students must:

  • have a valid study permit
  • be a full-time student · be enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI) at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational program at the secondary level, and
  • be studying in a program that:
  1. is an academic, vocational or professional training
  2. leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
  3. is at least 6 months long.

Absolutely! Employers can hire eligible students while they study or after they graduate. Study Permit holders may be eligible to work off-campus without a work permit as soon as they begin their studies in Canada.

Note: Not all international students on Study Permits are authorized to work in Canada.

Presently, international students enrolled in the following two programs are not eligible to work off-campus: a) general interest programs of study that do not form part of the academic, professional, or vocational training program; and b) courses that are a prerequisite to their enrolment at a designated learning institution, such as English as a second language or French as a second language. International students enrolled in the above two ineligible programs would need a valid Work Permit in order to work in Canada.

Absolutely, however, a different work permit is required, a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

International students who complete a full-time program in Canada at a designated learning institution (DLI) are eligible for a PGWP. For St. Lawrence College, International students who have completed a program of at least 8 months are eligible. The PGWP allows them to work for an eligible employer in Canada for up to three years (depending on the length of their study program.)

Students who have graduated can only work part-time until they receive a Completion Letter from St. Lawrence College. Once they have this letter and apply for the PGWP, they are eligible to work full-time. It is the individual's responsibility to apply for a PGWP upon graduation.

Once they have applied, they are eligible to work full-time with “Implied Status”. When a temporary resident such as a student submits an application to extend their stay from inside Canada, and they do it before their status expires, and without leaving the country, they are considered to have “Implied Status”. A person with Implied Status can continue the activity they were already doing in Canada under the same conditions as their original authorization allowed. Workers may continue to work, students may continue to study, and visitors may continue to visit. A person with implied status, even though they are still legally inside the country, does not have any specific document confirming they are allowed to stay in Canada – their only proof of legal status is their previous status document (a study permit in this case) and the proof they submitted an application to extend their temporary stay inside Canada such as online submission confirmation letter.

It is important to note, that most graduates are interested in full-time employment as it helps them towards a future Permanent Residence application.

Yes! International students may work for any eligible employer in Canada for up to three years

Full-time international students who are enrolled in academic studies can work:

  • up to 20 hours a week while class is in session, and
  • full-time during scheduled breaks (summer, Christmas, spring break)

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website has additional information and resources about working in Canada.

Employers should make sure the student they hire has a valid Study Permit and a Social Insurance Number. Employers may want to ask the student for a letter of enrolment to confirm they are studying full-time in an eligible program at a post-secondary school (or a vocational program at the secondary level in Quebec).

Employers who are interested in hiring international students for placements or internships can contact Career Services at St. Lawrence College for assistance.

Yes, they are but they need to have a valid work permit.

International students can easily obtain a co-op work permit if:

  • they have a valid study permit
  • they have a letter from St. Lawrence College that confirms all students in the program need to complete work placements to get their degree. St. Lawrence College does not offer co-op options presently but is looking for prospective partnerships to do so. SLC’s work integrated learning does include placement options for students.
  • their co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of their study program
  • During the COVID-19 outbreak, many international students are studying online from abroad. If possible, students in this situation can complete a Canadian work placement by working remotely from their home country without a co-op work permit.

Employers should ensure the proper procedures to hire international students are followed. First and foremost, it is important to verify that the international student applying for a job has legal authorization to work in Canada. The starting point is to confirm with the applicant that they hold a valid Study Permit or a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). In order to make it easier for employers to hire international students, the following steps are recommended:

  • implement an internal policy for hiring international students/graduates and ensure the internal policy is communicated to the hiring managers and human resource departments.
  • request a copy of the applicant's Study Permit and Work Permit.
  • review the Study Permit to ensure there is a notation that authorizes the applicant to work in Canada pursuant to section 186(v) of the IRPR.
  • review the Work Permit to ensure that it is an open Work Permit and not a closed Work Permit tied to a previous employer.
  • review the Study Permit and Work Permit to ensure there is no special notation or condition that prevents the applicant from accepting the job offer. And
  • request an official letter from the applicant's designated learning institution (in our case, St. Lawrence College) confirming that the applicant is enrolled and is in good academic standing.
  • When in doubt, employers can contact our Career Services team.

Yes, there are. Some of the common examples include the following (this is not a complete list):

  • if the international student is on leave from studies, including school closures, then they cannot work during this period.
  • if the international student arrived in Canada before their program begins, then they cannot work until after they have commenced their classes.
  • if the international student has completed their program in Canada and received their final marks, then they must stop working in Canada until after they have submitted their Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) application. Depending on when the PGWP application was submitted, the international student may need to wait for the Work Permit to be issued before they can commence work in Canada.

Employers interested in hiring international students can reach out to St. Lawrence College Career Services. Employment Ontario Centres can assist employers with hiring international job seekers who have moved to Canada for reasons other than studying. Here are some useful links:

Apart from the technical skills required for the job, soft skills and cross-cultural understanding are important for onboarding and fostering a positive work environment among peers. Companies like Siemens and RBC look to their own staff to help welcome and include newcomer hires. A good suggestion can be to match new employees with peers as mentors or “buddies” which supports their integration into the workplace and helps develop important leadership skills of the mentors.

SLC International Students have the opportunity to work with our Career Services team to prepare a Canadian resume and cover letter and to practice for interviews.

Hiring candidates with no prior Canadian work experience is not an uncommon practice by employers. Short-term work opportunities, placements, and co-op programs allow employers to assess a candidates’ suitability, competency, skills transferability and ability to learn. Employers should consider prior volunteering and part-time student work experiences as an alternative to Canadian work experience. Volunteering helps students bridge gaps in their work history. 

Perceived limited English and French language proficiency should not stop employers from hiring otherwise job-ready candidates with the technical skills they need. Many companies are finding other ways to offer employment while language skills develop. It is also important to train hiring managers to look beyond language proficiency. International students have met language proficiency standards prior to joining a St. Lawrence College program. They may have a different accent or display different ways of communicating, but they are perfectly capable to do their jobs and follow instructions not only in English or French but also in other languages.

Students with work experience may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through a variety of immigration programs such as Express Entry. Students, with or without work experience, may also be eligible for Provincial Nominee Programs. Most students want to work full-time upon graduation because they are seeking permanent residence. Some international students may turn down job part-time job offers as a result. Having this in mind, may help employers retain the best talent once they hire an international graduate.  

The two main options to hire internationally trained workers are:

Express Entry is aimed at skilled workers and allows employers to select potential employees from a pool of candidates. The system ranks potential migrants according to factors such as their skills, work experience, English and French language ability, and education.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada usually take 6 months or less to process complete Express Entry applications, but in the meantime, workers can be bought on site under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or International Mobility program while their Express Entry application is processed. Mistakes or omissions in the application process can cause delays.

EE is split into three subcategories:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program is frequently used by employers to bring in highly educated and skilled workers, managers, executives and the like. 
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program is designed for skilled tradespeople, such as construction specialists, natural resources industry technicians, and manufacturing supervisors. 
  • The Canada Experience Class is for migrants with previous Canadian work experience, such as international students, who often apply while already in Canada. The 3 National Occupation Classification Listcodes covered by this visa are: Managerial (Skill Level 0), Professional (Skill Type A), Technical (skill Type B).Canada Experience Class applications are not subject to a Labour Market Impact Assessment (see below). In combination with the fact that many candidates in this category are already living and working in Canada, this means that a Canada Experience Class visa may be an employer’s quickest route to getting a skilled worker on site.

If employers want to hire a skilled international student through either the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Federal Skilled Trades Program they may need to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to show that there is a genuine need for a foreign worker to fill the role, and that no Canadian worker is available . The job offer for which an LMIA is being made must meet the following conditions for each visa subcategory:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: Must be full time, permanent, and not seasonal; must be Managerial (Skill Level 0), Professional (Skill Type A), Technical (skill Type B) on Canada’s National occupation Classification List
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program: Must be full time, and last at least 1 year; must be Technical (skill Type B) on Canada’s National occupation Classification List; and must offer wages and conditions at a similar level to those offered to native Canadians working in the same role. 
  • Canadian Experience Class:The good news is that A Labour Market Impact Assessment is not needed for this visa subcategory. However, applications supported by an assessment receive extra points, and are more likely to be successful. The conditions for this subcategory are the same as for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (above)

Under the Express Entry program any dependent family members of the main applicant are also granted permanent residence in Canada, and enjoy all the same rights to live, work, and study in the country.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP) are very similar visa categories, which allow employers to hire migrant workers to fill short term labour and skill shortages. Which program employers use is determined by whether they need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA); those who do should apply under the TFWP, while those that don’t should use the IMP. To find out if an employer needs an LMIA, they can review the Canadian government’s list of LMIA exemption codes. They may also want to consider hiring an Immigration Lawyer, Paralegal or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)

A minimum of 30 days.

Under the TFWP program dependent family members must make their own visa applications, but the main candidate's status may help, especially if they're highly skilled and will be working in Canada for 6 months or more.

The following table provides an overview of some of the Canadian immigration options for international students and graduates in Ontario/Canada to seek permanent residence. 


Aligned with Express Entry?

Is a job offer required?

Additional information

Canadian Experience Class



Graduates may become eligible after working in Canada on a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).  

Federal Skilled Worker Program



Graduates with Canadian credentials receive more points under the education factor. Graduates may also obtain additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for their Canadian credentials.

Federal Skilled Trades Program



Graduates may also obtain additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for their Canadian credentials. 


Ontario Employer Job Offer: International Student Stream



Graduates of a full-time degree or diploma program at an eligible publicly-funded Canadian college or university that is at least 2 years in length, or a 1-year post-graduate certificate program that requires a previous degree in order to qualify, may be able to apply; open to eligible candidates whose job offer has been approved through the Employer pre-screen processThis stream is expected to open and close intermittently.