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International students can now work more than 20 hours a week

Halifax student plans to find more hours now that federal government changed rules

2 min read
caption Xuan Lu is working at Jacky's Cafe in Halifax as a server.
Gia Ye

Xuan Lu is looking for another job now that the federal government has changed the rules for international students working in Canada.

Lu, a native of Guangxi, China, is a computer science student at Dalhousie University and will graduate in 2023. She works as a server at Jacky’s Café in Halifax during the day, but was limited to no more than 20 hours per week.

But as of Tuesday, international students like her are allowed to work more than 20 hours.

“I don’t study well at night,” she said in an interview conducted in Mandarin. “That’s why I want another job I can work after 8 p.m.”

She feels the financial burden of high tuition fees and rent payments. However, she’s also worried about how to balance her studies with work.

“I don’t want to use my mind after physical work,” she said. “I didn’t expect this before I actually started working.”

There are 7,286 international students enrolled in Halifax universities, according to Halifax Partnership.

International students are required to pay higher tuition fees than Canadian students.

At Dalhousie University, for example, undergraduate international arts students pay $25,460 in tuition per year, while Canadians pay about $8,600.

Dalhousie Student Union president Aparna Mohan is an international student. She said she’s not working more than 20 hours a week, but she knows many students are working multiple part-time jobs.

She said lifting the cap on work hours has benefited some students.

“I think that has released a lot of pressure in the short term on international students who need to be working multiple part-time jobs in order to make ends meet,” she said.

Still, she said, it’s a shame that international students have to work so many jobs and hours to pay their bills. The student union is advocating for more support for international students, including scholarships and other financial relief.

Mohan noted that international students’ priority is to study, so she wants them to be cautious about working so many hours.

“It’s not sustainable in the long term,” she said.

The cap on hours is lifted until Dec. 31, 2023. The federal government announced it was taking this step to solve a labour shortage.

Eddie Yang, owner of Swee Tea House in Halifax, employs five international students. He thinks the decision to lift the cap on work hours is a good one when students only have few courses and a lot of spare time to work.

“They can have more of a chance to earn money for their living because everything, the prices are increasing,” he said.

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About the author

Gia Ye

Gia (she/her) comes from China. She is a journalism student at the University of King's College with a Bachelor degree of Arts in Culture and...

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