By: Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
International students who are on a co-op work term don’t have to wait for their permit to begin their job placements, according to a new policy released earlier this week by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Students can start working while their applications for their co-op work permit are being processed. This is a special permit that allows international students to complete all work components related to their academic degree, including co-op terms, internships, and practicum. It is a separate permit that students have to apply for, in addition to their study permit, with which students are authorized to complete non-academic-related work.
Amy Braye, the manager of the International Education Centre at Mount Saint Vincent University, said students are now allowed to use the regular work hours allocation from their study permit for their co-op experience while they wait for approval for the special work permit.
“Basically the regular work and the co-op work were always separate. And the government has said, listen, we’re going to allow that students can use their regular work allotment for their co-op experience, if they want to, and if they can,” said Braye.
The new policy applies to students who are studying remotely in their home country as well.
“In the past, if a student didn’t have their co-op work permit, and they said, ‘I’m living in China, but Nova Scotia Power wants to hire me, they are OK if I telecommute. Is that acceptable?’ We would have advised that no, it’s not acceptable,” Braye said. But with the new policy, the answer is yes, she said.
However, according to IRCC’s website, it requires approval from both the institution and the employer.
“Ultimately both the employer and the co-op program must be in agreement that the specific opportunity is suitable for remote work from outside of Canada and that the employer can support the student in their learning appropriately,” said Janet Bryson, associate director of media relations and issues management at Dalhousie University.
A standard study permit only grants students 20 hours per week of off-campus work experience. Students may work full-time off campus during an academic break.
“It’s still good for students. It means that they can work right towards their co-op, whereas before, they were just barred from working towards their co-op,” Braye said. “It doesn’t solve all of the problems, because they have to meet the co-op hours that they need.”