International students win changes to immigration rules, again. Our fight continues.

Jobandeep Singh Sandhu was arrested on December 17, 2017, just two weeks before his graduation. His crime? Working more than 20 hours per week. 

Throughout 2018, he tried to stop his deportation but without success. Finally, just ten days before he was to be kicked out, he reached out to us at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC). 

We did everything we could. Over 52,000 people signed a petition. We took over the Minister of Immigration’s office. We got media attention, but we couldn’t stop his removal.

Until that point, we had already been calling for an end to the 20-hour work rule because it just gives too much to employers. Migrant students are either forced or don’t have a choice but to work more simply to make ends meet. And when bosses know that we are doing “irregular work” – they steal our wages and mistreat us. 

But in June 2019, right after Jobandeep was deported, we launched Migrant Students United. Our objective was, and is, to create an organization to unite current and former migrant student workers to fight for our rights. 

Keep reading to find out what the change announced today was!

Our first goal was to end the 20 hour work limit, and that brings us to today. This morning, Minister Sean Fraser announced the removal of the 20 hour work limit for some students for a short window of time. If this rule was in place in 2017, Jobandeep would not have been arrested, he would still be in Canada. 

Over the years, thousands of migrant student workers, and supporting organizations have joined forces towards a fairness agenda for current and former international students. Today’s announcement is our collective success. It proves what we have always known: united we are stronger, united we win.

The Minister of Immigration called today’s announcement a response to the “labour shortage crisis”, but this isn’t true. There is no labour shortage crisis, only a crisis of low wages and exploitative working conditions. The solution is worker power and our ability to move between jobs. 

Today’s announcement will give at least 500,000 migrant student workers more power to make choices and walk away from abuse. That is our success, and we also know that it’s not enough. The program announced today is temporary, only from November 15, 2022 to the end of 2023; and not everyone is included, only those with valid study permits or who have applied for a study permit. We know that employers will use this tiered system to exploit those that don’t have as much power as others. 

This is why Migrant Students United is a part of a cross-country movement demanding permanent resident status for all migrants, including students. On Sunday, October 16, 2022, we will be at actions across Cabinet Minister offices across the country making sure our voices are heard, join us:

What was announced today

  • Only applies to those with active study permits now, and who applied for a study permit on/before October 7, 2022
  • Eligible study permit holders will be able to work unlimited hours off-campus between November 15, 2022 to the end of 2023.

Add your name to support the Agenda For Migrant Student Worker Fairness:


  • End the 20 hour work rule for study permit holders (partial success today!)
  • Make PGWP permanently renewable, without exclusion (We have twice succeeded but changes aren’t permanent and too many are excluded)
  • Work permits for private college students
  • No industry restrictions on permits 


Permanent Resident status for ALL migrant student workers immediately including:

  • In any NOC code & any job 
  • In – school or without work
  • Those without immigration status 
  • Without unfair age, language and education requirements


  • Lower tuition fees
  • Ensure access to employment and decent work
  • Ensure full access to all services including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships, and in-school support
  • Ensure family unity

Our victory was covered in the Toronto Star, CBC News, CTV News, Global News, The Times of India, Radio Canada, and more.

Check out what members of Migrant Students United, Harshill and Adri said to the Toronto Star:

Harshill, a former international student at Humber College, said he is “so happy to see our efforts are paying off.” He said he was afraid and had to keep his silence when he injured his finger at a restaurant job where he worked for cash with no paperwork.

Adri, an undergraduate international student at York University, was also happy with the news, saying, “It was really hard to find jobs with the 20-hour limitation. I work two jobs right now to make ends meet. But now I can find a full-time job or ask my boss to increase my hours.”

“It’s a step in the right direction. This change must be made permanent,” said Migrant Students United at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, adding that “this gives them the power to protect themselves from exploitation, abuse and mistreatment at work.”

We deserve more than temporary measures, we need permanent solutions and permanent resident Status for All. Here’s how you can take action to continue our fight for equal rights, dignity and fairness: