Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is a member-led organization that is building racialized, low-waged, worker power to win migrant justice. Our areas of focus include current and former international […]
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Know Your Rights
After graduating from a public post-secondary institution, you may be eligible for a post graduate work permit (PGWP). Depending on the length of your program, your PGWP may be anywhere from 8 months to 3 years long. During this time, you have to complete requirements for permanent residency.
Most migrant student workers apply for permanent residency through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) or the federal Express Entry program called the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
For the PNP, every province or territory has their own streams, except for Quebec, which has its own program.
For the CEC, the key requirements are:
- Minimum of 12 months of high waged work experience in Canada in NOC 0, A or B jobs
- High language scores: CLB 7 for NOC 0 or A; CLB 5 for NOC B
Many of us struggle to get permanent residency because of these unfair requirements, and that forces us into very difficult situations. That is why current and former international students like you are coming together to demand permanent immigration status for all now! Join us.
If your study permit is expiring and you haven’t completed your studies yet, you can apply for a study permit extension. You should do this at least 30 days before your permit expires.
If your study permit is expiring and you will be graduating before it expires, you can apply for a post graduate work permit (PGWP). You have up to 180 days after you get your final marks from school to apply for a PGWP.
If your study permit has already expired, you can try to restore your status. You usually have 90 days after your permit expires to restore. But during COVID19, you may be eligible to restore your status until August 31, 2021 if you had valid status on or before January 2020.
If your study permit expired before January 2020 and you cannot restore it, contact us to discuss your options. You are not alone!
The post graduate work permit (PGWP) is a non-renewable, time-restricted permit that we can only get once. After the PGWP expires, we have very limited options.
This puts a lot of pressure on us. In 2020, tens of thousands of PGWP holders across the country were facing a massive crisis - our permits were expiring, there were no jobs, we couldn’t complete the requirements for PR and we were running out of time. So we came together to demand that the government respond. After months of organizing, we won a historic policy change that stopped the possible deportation of over 52,000 migrant student workers!
Now, PGWP holders with expired or expiring permits may be able to apply for an 18 month open work permit and have a second chance to qualify for PR. If you have questions about the new open work permit, contact us. You can read more about the victory here.
You must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour you work, even if you’re working for cash, and regardless of your immigration status. This includes being paid for any time you work for set up or take down, and during any “training” or probation periods. The minimum wage varies by province. As of March 2021, they are:
- Ontario: $14.25
- British Columbia: $14.60
- Quebec: $13.10
- Nova Scotia: $12.55
- New Brunswick: $11.70
- Alberta: $15.00
- Manitoba: $11.90
- Saskatchewan: $11.45
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $12.15
- Prince Edward Island: $12.85
We know that the minimum wage is not a livable wage, especially when many of us have to pay for high tuition, pay bills and take care of our families. Employers often take advantage of our temporary status as migrant student workers and pay us below minimum wage. You have labour rights! If you’re not being paid properly or respected at work, contact us.
For current international students, it is common for us to look for jobs while studying in school because fees are so high. For graduated students on the post graduate work permit (PGWP), we face added pressure to find high-waged jobs in NOC 0, A and B levels because the government only counts these jobs toward permanent residency. All of the essential work we do in NOC C and D jobs, such as working in grocery stores, warehouses, retail and service, cleaning or food delivery, does not count toward PR. This is not fair.
If you’re looking for a job, you are not alone! We are not a job placement agency but we can connect you with other workers like you who are taking action together to fight for decent jobs and end the rules that make our lives harder.
There are not many income support programs for migrant student workers, and this puts us under huge financial stress. Check if you qualify for the Canada Recovery Benefit, Employment Insurance or Canada Child Benefit. Applying for these programs will not affect your permanent residency application.
If you are a current student, there may be emergency supports or bursaries available through your school.
Many current and former international students are speaking up about high tuition fees and the lack of income supports for migrants. Join us to get involved!
Not all international students are allowed to work, and we face restrictions on where we can work and how many hours. Check the conditions of your study permit.
If your permit says you’re allowed to work during your studies, you can work full time on campus and a maximum of 20 hours per week off campus. Even if you worked less than 20 hours one week, you cannot add these hours to the next week.
When your program or school has a “regularly scheduled break,” you can work full time off campus. These breaks can include the summer or winter holidays. Check your program or school’s academic schedule.
Many of us work more than 20 hours off campus because we need to. Some of us work 20 hours on SIN and the rest on cash. We should be able to choose where and how much we work. But as migrant student workers we don’t have equal rights. That’s not fair, so together we are speaking up to win change. Join us!