Become a member

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) is an organization for and by migrants. We are uniting to win rights at work and immigration justice. 

By becoming a member, you will learn more about your rights as a worker, have access to support, build your leadership skills and be part of our movement to ensure rights and justice for all. Members participate in monthly meetings, as well as online and in-person activities and become part of a supportive community of workers & friends. 

Members believe in building our collective power and being in solidarity with workers speaking up for justice anywhere in the world. 

Member Benefits

  • You join a community of migrant leaders fighting for change;
  • Get invited to special events and receive support from others in a similar situation;
  • Opportunities to speak to elected officials, decision-makers and the media;
  • Get priority support (attention) if you are facing problem or if you are being treated unfairly; 
  • Get free workshops and training on topics such as workplace rights; immigration issues; taxes and Employment Insurance; accessing health care and social support systems; and collective organizing 101.

Membership Form

Fix Express Entry: Share the changes you want

This survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete

Recently the minimum points required to qualify for Express Entry permanent residency programs, like the Canadian Experience Class, have been extremely high. Migrant Workers Alliance for Change will submit a proposal to the federal government on how to fix Express Entry based on the collective priorities of current and former international students like you.

You can choose to stay anonymous, and your answers will be kept confidential.

Create your own user feedback survey

Release: International students and migrants need rights, not caps

Media Release

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Media Liaison: Sarom Rho, 416-887-8315, sarom@migrantworkersalliance.org, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

International students and migrants need rights, not caps

“There is an immigration crisis in the country but it’s not in runaway numbers, it’s in the abuse, exploitation and exclusion of people without permanent resident status and that is where we must focus. 

In addition to the 2 year cap on international student permits, Minister Miller also announced that in the week ahead families of international students who are not in graduate level studies will be banned from being in the country – this is cruel mass family separation. It must be reversed.

Minister Miller has also banned post-graduate work permits for anyone starting their studies on September 1, 2024 at a public-private partnership educational institution. This does not fix the failures of the massive expansion of such get-rich institutions to which recruiters will continue to funnel vulnerable students. There must be a single system in which schools that are eligible for study permits should also be eligible for post-graduate work permits. If the school is not good enough for a post-graduate work permit, it simply should be closed down. 

Migrants are facing a roller-coaster of policy changes, with new announcements almost every day – we need predictability and transparency. At minimum that means the announcements today should not apply to anyone with a valid study permit or who has applied for a study permit. Otherwise, tens of thousands of students will be punished for failures of government policy. We ask at a minimum that those with valid study permits or who have applied for a study permit at these PPPs are grandfathered in and have access to post-graduate work permits. 

All of us in Canada are facing overwhelming bills and exorbitant rent because of price-hikes, failures of government policy and runaway profiteering. And yet it is immigrants who are being scapegoated. Housing prices went up even when the border was closed during COVID-19. Capping immigration is not a solution, prices will remain high, all today’s announcement does is cede to racist ideas and hurt working class people and their families.”

— Sarom Rho, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change / Migrant Students United.

Migrant Students United is a sector of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. We are the only cross-country organization that serves as a representative body for both current and former international students, with membership of study permit holders, post-graduate work permit holders and undocumented students in ten provinces and territories. Our Fairness Agenda for Migrant Student Workers platform has been endorsed by national student, labour and civil society organizations representing over 533,080 people across the country.

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, sarom@migrantworkersalliance.org, 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.

BACKGROUND ON 20 HOUR WORK LIMIT

  • 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. 

BACKGROUND ON POST-GRADUATE WORK PERMIT EXTENSIONS

  • 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

https://MigrantWorkersAlliance.org/MSUFairness

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

ENSURE STATUS FOR ALL MIGRANT STUDENT WORKERS

  • 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

FIX PERMITS

  • 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

LOWER TUITION, ENSURE GOOD JOBS & ALL SERVICES

  • 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

Migrant Students United: Events & Activities

Current & former international students: Sign up and join others like you for upcoming actions, workshops, socials, and activities.

Scroll to see events in Toronto and across the country.

Toronto / GTA

November 9: Popcorn and Movie Night!

Get cozy, eat popcorn and watch a movie with others like you. Popcorn, snacks and hot drinks provided. Register below so we know how much popcorn to get.

Thursday November 9 from 6pm-8pm
MWAC Offices – click here for map
720 Spadina Avenue, suite 223

ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Sign now: Fairness Agenda for Migrant Students!

Current and graduated international students (Migrant Student Workers) are now the largest group of temporary migrants in the country. We are uniting as migrants for our rights, for justice and dignity. 

Sign the petition to #MakeItFair: MigrantWorkersAlliance.org/MSUFairness

If you are part of an organization, endorse the Fairness Agenda platform so we can unite: MigrantWorkersAlliance.org/FairnessAgenda

ENSURE STATUS FOR ALL MIGRANT STUDENT WORKERS

  • 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
  • No exclusions: PR status for all regardless of age, immigration status, work, language and education requirements

FIX PERMITS

  • Permanently end the 20 hour work rule for study permit holders
  • Make PGWP renewable, and include private college students
  • Allow co-op work authorization without extra permits 
  • Permit protections for vulnerable and destitute migrant student workers
  • No industry of work restrictions

LOWER TUITION, ENSURE GOOD JOBS & ALL SERVICES

  • Fair tuition: No differential treatment, caps on tuition increases, stop the fees 
  • Ensure access to employment and decent work; end wage theft and labour exploitation. 
  • Ensure full access to all services including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships, and in-school support
  • Ensure family unity

Migrant Welcome UN Slavery Rapporteur Call for Permanent Resident Status for All

Media Contact: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632, hussan@migrantworkersalliance.org 

Migrant Welcome UN Slavery Rapporteur Call for Permanent Resident Status for All

Toronto, September 6, 2023 – The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) welcomes the statement in Ottawa from United Nations Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery Professor Tomoya Obokata today in which he called for “paths to longterm or permanent residency be open to all migrant workers”. 

The UN Rapporteur was in Canada on a country mission where he met with migrants including 40 members of (MWAC), Indigenous people, people with disability and incarcerated people, persons of African descent and other groups facing exploitation. In his End of Mission press conference today, Professor Obokata said that  was “disturbed” that “certain categories of migrant workers are made vulnerable to contemporary forms of slavery in Canada by the policies that regulate their immigration status, employment, and housing in Canada, and he is particularly concerned that this workforce is disproportionately racialized, attesting to deep-rooted racism and xenophobia entrenched in Canada’s immigration system”. 

He also reiterated that “Newcomers who enter Canada outside of TFWP experience similar precarity. International students who work in excess of the permitted 20 hours per week, asylum-seekers awaiting their work permits, undocumented migrant workers, and those that have lost status are vulnerable to many of the same abusive practices, as they may not report abuses for fear of deportation. Employers who are aware of their status may exploit them under threat of denouncing them to immigration authorities.”

The UN Rapporteur also echoed a call for regularization of all undocumented people, a call that was also made in June 2023 by the UN Rapporteur on Migration.

“The United Nations Rapporteur has yet again stated what we all know, and migrants have been saying for decades – a two-tier system of immigration where over 1.2 million new temporary permits are being issued each year breeds exploitation, exclusion and violence. All migrants, including undocumented people, migrant students, workers and refugees, must have permanent resident status to protect themselves and ensure a fair society,” said Syed Hussan, executive director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Prime Minister Trudeau promised regularization of undocumented people and permanent resident status for migrant students, workers and families in a mandate letter commitment in December 2021, 20 months later, migrants continue to suffer. 

Background:

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is a migrant-led, membership based organization of farmworkers, fishery workers, careworkers, undocumented people and current and former international students uniting for immigration and labour justice. 

www.MigrantWorkersAlliance.org 

Migrant Workers – You may be able to study now!

This information is up to date as for June 27, 2023. Please check back for updates

What was announced?
Temporary foreign workers with a “work permit” (see below for who may be excluded) that is valid on June 7, 2023, or temporary foreign workers with an expired work permit but who applied for an extension June 7, 2023, may be able to study for up to three years without a study permit.

What changed exactly? 
Until now, if you were on a work permit, you could only study for a course of up to 6 months. For courses  longer than 6 months, you would have to apply for a study permit. Now you will be able to study without a study permit until your work permit expires.

Does this change apply to refugees, post-graduate work permit holders or humanitarian applicants with valid work permits? 
It is not clear at this time. Please fill in your information below and we will let you know when more information is provided by the federal government.

Can I study full-time?
Yes, you are allowed to study full time. 

But the work experience you get while studying full time cannot be used for future immigration applications under Express Entry programs. If you study part-time, you will be able to count the full time work for your Express Entry applications. 

If you are applying under the HCCP or HSWP or for the Agri-Food Immigraiton Pilot, it is not clear if you can count work while you are studying full time (but you can count work while you are studying part time). Please fill in your information below and we will let you know when more information is provided by the federal government.

What is part-time study?
Schools have different definitions. Usually anything less than 4 or 5 courses per semester is considered part-time. Check with the school before enrolling. 

Can I start a full-year course if my work permit expires during the course?
We don’t know if you can start a course in September for one year (until September 2024), if your work permit expires in the middle (for example in November 2023). Please fill in your information below and we will let you know when more information is provided by the federal government.

Can I get accreditation for high-school equivalency or one-year post-secondary education in this way without applying for a study permit? 
It is possible. However, you must make sure that the school you are applying to will provide you a certification that you can use. You must make sure that you choose part-time or full-time based on whether you need to count the work experience, and when your work permit expires. 

Can I study online?
Yes, you can study online. 

  • For Post-Secondary education: The post-secondary education must be a “Designated Learning Institute”. Check here to see if the school is registered. Be careful, there are many “private colleges” that are not listed so make sure you check this list even if the school is large and you know other people that attend. 
  • For high-school accreditation: Make sure it is a provincial organization. For example, in Ontario, click here.

Do I have to pay international tuition fees?
Yes, you will have to pay international tuition fees, which is 3-4 times higher than domestic tuition fees.

What are the requirements to enroll at a college or university or to get a high school diploma?
Every college and university has different requirements. You should read their websites carefully to apply. Only trust the information that you read yourself. Do not trust the advice of education agents without checking yourself. 

Fill Out This Form For More Information

Update on International Students Fight Against Deportation

On Wednesday June 14, 2023, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser held a media event and released a statement after an incredible 18 day permanent protest by Punjabi students in Toronto outside of immigration enforcement headquarters. These students have been “deemed inadmissible” or are facing inadmissibility hearings and several dozen are facing deportation. 

Continue reading to learn what was announced. Permanent solutions are still needed: permanent cancellation of deportation orders, immediate access to regularization and permanent resident status for all – sign the petition to send a message to decision makers: MigrantWorkersAlliance.org/StopDeportations

Based on the information available as of June 14, here is what we know: 

  1. There will be an 8 week case-by-case investigation by a task force of immigration and immigration enforcement officials (IRCC and CBSA) to determine who was tricked and misrepresented by these recruiters.
  2. Migrant students who have pending deportation orders will be given a temporary resident permit (TRP) and will have their deportation halted for 8 weeks as the investigation is underway.
  3. Within these 8 weeks, migrant students who are considered by the task force to be “genuine applicants’ and deemed to not know of the fraud will have their inadmissibility waived and their temporary resident permits will be extended for 3 years.
  4. Those students already deported will have a process to return to Canada.

This is a significant victory that is a direct result of sustained, courageous action by migrant students and their supporters. 

There are a number of very important issues that are unaddressed and concerns that have not been resolved: 

  1. Many of the impacted students have not yet gotten a decision on their admissibility hearings and/or have not yet been issued deportation orders. The Minister did not say that they would receive temporary resident permits (TRP). This leaves the majority of affected students in limbo.
  2. It is unclear if and how students will be able to apply for the TRP. Students may receive communication from Immigration Canada. 
  3. There are no clear details on how students who will be investigated will participate in the proceedings. It is unknown if they will be able to present a case, or have a lawyer present. The criteria has not been announced, and it is not known who the burden of proof will fall onto; i.e. it is not known if students will have to prove that they did not engage in fraud or not.
  4. The investigative process is individualized on a case-by-case basis, even as the impacted students took action collectively and demanded a political response. 
  5. It is not clear what remedies or right of appeal will be available to those deemed to have conducted fraud.
  6. Even with TRPs extended for students, there is no clarity on how people will get justice and permanent resident status. Some are already undocumented. And a 3 year temporary permit means that exploitation, denial of equal rights and protections will continue, with no guarantee that students will be invited for PR at the end. 

As more information becomes available, we will continue to update this page. Permanent solutions are still needed. We deserve a permanent cancellation of deportation orders, immediate access to regularization and permanent resident status for all – sign the petition to send a message to decision makers: MigrantWorkersAlliance.org/StopDeportations

Follow the students at Stand for Student and Naujawan Support Network for more.