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As an international student in a co-op program, getting your work permit is a necessary step to working in Canada.

We are here to help. The resources below can help answer any questions you may have about obtaining your work permit. Our international employment specialist (IES) for international visa students will also be in touch to support you throughout the process.

The University has a dedicated team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) that provide free and confidential services to Waterloo students. Learn more about the RCIC team and available resources.

exclamation point Changes to temporary policy for students in co-op

In October 2022, IRCC announced that study permit holders in Canada meeting certain conditions could work more than 20 hours per week for off-campus employers.  This policy also enabled eligible co-op students to work in Canada for co-op credit without a co-op work permit. This policy went into effect on November 15, 2022 and was extended until April 30, 2024.  

The Government of Canada has announced that the temporary policy will not be extended beyond April 30, 2024.  As such, all student permit holders will require a co-op work permit in order to undertake work terms in Canada.  For more information, please refer to IRCC’s news release

Applying for your co-op work permit

If you are in a co-op program, you must have your co-op work permit before your first work term in Canada. It is essential to maintain your co-op work permit status during all your co-op work terms.

A month before your studies begin, our international employment specialist (IES) for international visa students will be in touch. The IES can help outline the process. You will need to confirm with the IES when you receive your co-op work permit so that you can proceed with your Canadian work terms. Please note:

  • You should apply for the co-op work permit while you apply for your study permit. This can be done in one application. Having both permits issued when you begin your studies will ensure that you can start your work terms as scheduled.
  • If you are unable to apply for your co-op work permit before coming to Canada, please apply as soon as possible after you arrive. Processing times can be as long as six months. The current processing times are available on the Government of Canada website.
  • An IES will send you periodic reminders to keep up to date on your co-op work permit application status. The more information we have, the more likely it is that we can help.
  • Once you receive your co-op work permit, submit a copy to the IES as soon as possible. Without proof of your work permit, you will not be authorized for work terms in Canada.
  • Ensuring that you have the necessary permit to legally work in Canada is your responsibility. We will be in touch regularly to make sure you have all the information you need to obtain your co-op work permit on time. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out for support immediately. 

Frequently asked questions about co-op work permits

Have more questions?

If you have outstanding questions after reviewing the resources above, we’re here to help! Our international employment specialist is here to support you through the process. If your specific questions need guidance from our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants, we can connect you with them or you can contact them directly.