Release: Migrant Students United Responds to New International Student Rules, Demands Permanent Fairness for Students Workers, Not Temporary Policies

Media Release
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Media Liaison: Sarom Rho, 416-887-8315,, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

“Federal immigration policy is a roller coaster, the 20 hour work permit rule was removed after migrant student workers spoke up but just for 4 months. We don’t need monthly improvisations and chaotic twists that let exploitation and abuse continue; we will continue to speak up for stable, fair rules and permanent residency for all. At the same time, the feds just doubled the financial requirements for study permits, effectively creating a cap and excluding prospective working class students worldwide who will now be scrambling in the next three weeks to find an extra $10,000 dollars. Post-graduate work permits will also no longer be renewable, even as the minimum score for permanent residency skyrocketed to 561 two days ago. Thousands of graduated students doing essential jobs in low-wage industries are not able to count their crucial work toward permanent resident applications and will be forced to leave or become undocumented.”

– Sarom Rho, national organizer of Migrant Students United, a section of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. 

“I have been so stressed in these last days of the year, wondering what I will have to do to make ends meet come January. I’m working two jobs as a restaurant worker and in retail while also studying full time because everything is so unaffordable and international tuition fees keep increasing. A four month extension means that I’m still anxious, we deserve a chance to work with the same rights that protect everybody else. We deserve fairness and a dignified life, we need full and permanent immigration status for all.” 

– Manuel Araujo, current international student from Mexico at George Brown College.

“The extension of the 20 hour work restriction removal is something students like me fought for, but the huge increase in showing proof of funds is a cruel decision as most of us cannot afford that amount of money. When I came to study in 2019, my family had to take out loans, which we still have to pay back with interest, for the $10,000 minimum. Doubling that to over $20,000 is cruel, it will shatter the dreams of so many students and families around the world.” 

– Dev Kamboj, former international student from India, Conestoga College.


  • In 2019, over 52,000 migrant students signed a petition when Jobandeep Singh Sandhu was targeted for working more than 20 hours per week off campus. Since then, migrant student workers have organized phone calls, met with government officials and marched on the streets calling for removal of the 20 hour work limit. 
  • The 20 hour work limit has resulted in immense exploitation and abuse. This is because:
    • Average structure of work: An average work shift is 8 hours, migrant student workers who take a third shift are effectively working irregularly for 4 out of 24 hours. Two shifts add up to 16 hours, which are simply not sufficient, and part-time work is generally considered 3 days a week. The 20 hour work limit effectively forces workers to engage in irregular work, outside of labour law protections.
    • Migrant students are working past 20 hours already, just without rights: International tuition rises each year, and particularly in the context of global inflation, migrant students must work to survive. Many are forced to work more than 20 hours, which increases their vulnerability to labour exploitation. Bad employers are known to use the threat of deportation to steal wages from workers after forcing them to work over 20 hours.
  • Between 2019 and 2023, the median increase of migrant student tuition across Canada was over 30%, according to Statistics Canada data from September 2023.
  • On October 7, 2022, the federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a temporary removal of the 20 hour work restriction on study permits, giving more than 500,000 current international students the power to speak up against exploitation and leave bad jobs. But this only applied for those who were in the country or applied for a study permit on October 7 or before, creating another tier of workers who have less rights and more vulnerability. 


  • To qualify for permanent residence, graduated migrant student workers must complete at least 1 year of high-waged work. This work must be completed before their non-renewable post graduate work permit (PGWP) expires. Permits vary in length from 8 months to 3 years. Most migrant student workers work in essential jobs that are considered low-waged and cannot be counted towards permanent residency applications. 
  • In January 2021, in response to Migrant Students United organizing, the federal government made PGWPs renewable, a move that stopped the deportation of 52,000 people but the temporary program expired in July 2021. The program was available to graduated students whose work permits were expiring until November 27, 2021. 
  • On April 22, 2022, federal immigration Minister Sean Fraser again responded to Migrant Students United and announced a new open work permit program for expired or expiring PGWP holders, but arbitrarily and unfairly left out those whose permits expired before January 31, 2022. 
  • On June 22, 2022, the federal government announced in a tweet that open work permits will also be available to graduated international students whose permits expired and will expire between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022.
  • On March 17, 2023, federal immigration Minister Sean Fraser again responded to Migrant Students United and announced a new open work permit program for expired or expiring PGWP holders until December 31, 2023.
  • On October 27, 2023, new federal immigration Minister Marc Miller announced that he would be looking into the post-graduate work permit program, which has not been reviewed in the past 8-10 years. 

Migrant Students United Demands for Fairness

Endorsed by national student, labour and civil society organizations representing over 533,080 people across the country


  • Fix Express Entry: Fair CRS calculations, predictable draws, no one left out
  • Value all work in immigration selection: In any NOC/TEER, work done on the study permit, in co-op and gig work
  • No exclusions: PR status for all regardless of age, immigration status, work, language and education requirements


  • Permanently end the 20 hour work rule on study permits
  • Make PGWP renewable and include private college students
  • Protections for vulnerable and destitute migrant student workers
  • No industry of work restrictions


  • Fair tuition: No differential treatment, cap tuition increases, stop the fees 
  • Ensure access to employment and decent work; end wage theft and labour exploitation. 
  • Regulate education recruiters and provide whistleblower protections for students who speak up against exploitation
  • Ensure full access to all services, including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships, and in-school support
  • Ensure family unity