Should cap on international students’ working hours be lifted?



A brand new pilot undertaking to raise the cap on the variety of hours international college students can work ought to be made everlasting, say advocates who’ve spent years asking for the change.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser introduced final Friday the federal authorities would quickly take away the 20-hour cap on the variety of hours international college students can work off-campus to handle labour shortages.

The cap will be lifted from Nov. 15 till the top of subsequent 12 months.

The International Sikh Students Association has lengthy been calling for this modification, and launched a petition early this 12 months to maneuver that cap from 20 to 30 hours to up the standard of life for college students.

Jaspreet Singh, who based the affiliation, mentioned the federal government’s resolution to quickly raise the cap got here as a shock.

“We have been anticipating one thing everlasting,” he mentioned in an interview. “Not for one thing in response to a labour scarcity, as a substitute of real effort to assist to enhance lives of international college students.”

The 20-hour cap has by no means made a lot sense given most employers in Canada supply eight-hour shifts, mentioned Singh, who graduated as an international scholar two years in the past from Sheridan College within the Greater Toronto Area and has since change into a everlasting resident.

The cap has put stress on college students dealing with ever growing prices whereas residing in Canada.

“The hire inside the final 5 years is nearly double,” he mentioned. “So the whole lot has gone up.”

The authorities plans to deal with the short-term coverage as a pilot undertaking, Fraser mentioned at a press convention Friday.

“We’re going to be capable of study some classes over the course of the following 12 months, and we’ll be capable of decide whether or not that is the type of factor we are able to take a look at doing over an extended time frame.”

This is just not the primary time the cap has been lifted.

In April 2020, the cap was quickly eliminated for international college students who served important roles through the COVID-19 pandemic, together with these with jobs in power, well being, finance, meals companies, transportation and manufacturing.

The exemption for college students serving as front-line employees was later ended, and Singh mentioned college students are anxious the identical might occur once more if the most recent labour shortages are resolved.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan can also be pushing for a extra everlasting change.

“This change is totally essential, and is critical for the scholars’ survival,” Kwan mentioned in an interview.

International college students face tuition charges which might be as a lot as 3 times these of home college students and should nonetheless help themselves whereas they’re learning.

Kwan mentioned she welcomed the information concerning the pilot, however anxious concerning the motivations behind it.

When the federal government adjustments immigration measures, Kwan mentioned, “it is by no means actually to help the individuals who want the adjustments, however reasonably, it is at all times pushed by the financial system, or by trade.”

Fraser referred to as the short-term coverage a “win-win” for employers and college students trying to get extra work expertise in Canada.

Work expertise may also give college students a leg up after they apply to remain in Canada completely, mentioned Tony Fang, Stephen Jarislowsky chair in Economic and Cultural Transformation at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

One of the main hurdles to changing into a everlasting resident is lack of Canadian expertise, Fang mentioned. “This actually offers them a novel alternative to (acquire) the dear Canadian expertise, which is essential for the present immigration course of.”

The trade-off, Fang mentioned, is the potential for college students to undermine their research as a result of they spend an excessive amount of time working, which might in flip jeopardize their immigration standing in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 11, 2022.


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