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On 7th October 2022, Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Minister Sean Fraser announced that the 20-hour-a-week limit on the number of hours international students can work off-campus is being lifted, citing the country’s labor shortage.

As of July 2022, the Canadian job vacancy rate was 5.4%. This is down from a peak of 6.0% in April 2022. Canadian employers have been actively looking to fill nearly 1 million jobs as of July.

“There are more job opportunities than there are workers in almost every community in Canada,” Fraser told reporters. He added that while some international students will work in service jobs, he hopes some will find employment in their field of study.

Starting on Nov. 15, students enrolled in full-time studies will no longer be limited to working 20 hours per week off campus, Sean Fraser said during a news briefing in Ottawa Friday.

These temporary measures will be in place until the end of 2023, he said.

“Through this change, the cap has been lifted. There’s not an upper limit,” Fraser told reporters at a coffee shop near the University of Ottawa campus.

Fraser said that this will help to maintain Canada’s growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide a much-needed boost to employers in sectors where there are currently severe labor shortages.

Fraser also announced a pilot project to automate some approvals of study permit extension applications, which is meant to address a backlog.

Since Canada has become increasingly dependent on temporary residents, including international students, to fill its labor force needs – this creates a precarious workforce and can depress wage and working conditions for all employees according to advocates and economists.

In August, the federal government announced that foreign nationals whose work permits expired or will expire between Sept. 20, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2022 will be able to continue to work in Canada for an additional 18 months.

To increase transparency, Fraser had earlier announced that the department will also provide monthly updates on the number of applications in-process, completed and those that have exceeded the service standard time.

The number of temporary residents in Canada has increased significantly in recent years, particularly for students coming from overseas to study. Canada is an increasingly popular destination for international students, many of whom hope to eventually obtain permanent residency.

Fraser said he is working on improving pathways to permanency for both international students and undocumented people, but has not given any details yet.

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