If you choose to pursue an international co-op work term, including in the United States of America (USA), you'll be going to another country to complete one of your co-op degree requirements. Please review the following recommendations and tips to guide you through the process.
Travel abroad basics
The following will help you to prepare for travel. Remember to keep your personal safety top of mind.
- Be sure to monitor the incidence of COVID-19 at your destination and consider your comfort level before deciding to travel.
- COVID-19 dashboard and interactive map from the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University
- Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) - Statistics and Research - Our World in Data
- Confirm your travel plans and travel insurance to ensure you can enter and exit your destination safely. For example:
- Consider purchasing an open return ticket and purchasing adequate travel insurance.
- Consider booking your flight through the University's travel provider, Frederick Travel.
- Some governments and airlines have implemented special entry restrictions in response to COVID-19. Before travelling, verify if local authorities, or your travel provider, have implemented entry and exit restrictions for your destination, home country, or recent travel itinerary.
- Confirm that you have health insurance coverage for the duration of your international work term. Find out more on our health coverage page.
- Research and prepare for housing availability and costs at your destination.
- Consider whether you will be living with others or alone.
- Discuss sanitization, cleaning, billing, and other responsibilities with any roommates and the landlord.
- Ensure that you have access to enough money to cover your expenses for at least 1-2 months. With existing global delays, it could take longer than expected to set up local identification and banking at your destination.
- Learn about the local area, safety precautions and how to access essentials at your destination including:
- public transit system and routes
- where to buy groceries and do laundry
- safe ways to participate in local social and cultural experiences.
- It is your responsibility to know and respect local laws, customs, and etiquette. Doing so will help you to avoid putting yourself in harm's way. Be sure to research your destination in advance (e.g. BBC county profiles), regularly monitor Global Affairs Canada travel advisories, and make informed decisions about your travel.
Legal authorizations & immigration processes
If you choose to pursue an international work term in a foreign country, you must consider the legal requirements for working outside Canada. It is important that you are aware of how these legal requirements apply to you and that you prepare in advance. The following list outlines some of these requirements to consider.
- Know your legal requirements. It is important that you and your employer understand and know the legal requirements and authorizations to undertake the activities for which you are going abroad. Ensure that you are using the correct immigration pathway for your co-op term in consultation with your employer and the issuing authority.
- Your immigration status is your responsibility. The issuing authority determines the type and class of visa/work permit, but you are accountable for obtaining the proper authorization documentation (e.g. visa, work permit, etc.). We cannot advise on eligibility, nor can we guarantee any outcomes regarding your immigration status. Please seek independent legal immigration advisors if you have any questions regarding eligibility and outcome.
- Collect documentation from your employer. If the issuing authority for your visa/work permit process requires documentation from your employer, contact your employer directly. If you have documentation that needs to be attested by co-operative education (e.g. France's Convention d'Stage, Japan or Hong Kong's COE, etc.), email our International Employment Specialist.
- Obtain a letter of support (if required). Co-operative education can provide a "Letter of Support" that attests to your valid work term and university support for an international experience. You may need this letter as part of your visa/work permit application process. Please email our International Employment Specialist for help with your co-op work term "Letter of Support".
- Understand the risk. Co-operative education cannot guarantee or comment on the ability of any foreign country to extend a co-op opportunity. It is up to individual employers to decide based on the information they have including their assessment of an individual's successful entry into their country. We cannot predict whether your nationality will affect the likelihood of receiving a job offer.
- Ensure you have the correct authorization. Despite the assurances you may receive from your employer or the issuing authority, once you have been issued your visa/authorization (i.e. tourist, family, study), it will be difficult, if not impossible, to convert your visa/authorization to the correct type required for your co-op internship.
- Keep all documentation with you while travelling. Refrain from leaving Canada without having the correct immigration documentation in hand. In some countries, you may need to have and employment authorization depending on the specifics of your case including activities undertaken, duration of stay, and other factors. Do not hand in your travel documents to a foreign entity while pursuing your internship or co-op work term abroad.
Work terms in the USA
Work terms in the USA follow a very structured visa process. Once you are matched to a USA job or acquire one on your own, our International Employment Specialist (USA) will be in touch with you. Get started with some basic information. You may contact the International Employment Specialist (USA) if you have any questions or concerns.
Application process and timelines
- Begin the process as soon as you have confirmed your work term. There may be long wait times for consulate, embassy, or third-party immigration provider visa/permit appointments. Book an appointment (if applicable) as soon as you have confirmed your work term.
- Always represent your intent truthfully and completely to immigration or customs officers. Do not misrepresent the context and your intent. Immigration officials have access to sensitive information and have final authority to allow or disallow your entry into a country.
- Immigration officials might have extended questioning for you, or may ask you to go to another secure area for secondary screening, for any reason they deem necessary. It is in your best interest to co-operate and maintain a professional attitude while avoiding the use of sarcasm, witty remarks, strong opinions or back-talk. Answer questions from officials truthfully and pay attention to what is happening.
- Always have correct and complete paperwork ready. Travel with all your passports, not just your current passport. Have a printed copy of all immigration documents, such as your SIN card, citizenship card, passport, visa/permit for the foreign country, enrolment status at the University, etc.
- Allow for sufficient buffer time for delays in immigration processing, both at the application stage as well as at any point of entry or exit.
- A visa/permit does not guarantee entry into the country. The immigration officer at the point of entry has final authority to allow or disallow entry and stay based on the specifics of your particular case.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that your visa/permit allows you to stay legally in the country for the entire length of your work term/internship. Read the instructions on the visa/permit carefully, and ensure you take the necessary steps to legally maintain your presence in the country.
Co-operative Education does not provide guidance or offer support for post-graduate or non-co-op visas/permits. You must visit the given country’s official immigration website to review requirements, and identify those that apply to you. Contact The Centre (Student Service Centre) for any official documents you may need from the Registrar's Office including letters of enrolment or status verification.
For any international exchanges or study-related inquiries about countries outside of Canada, please contact Waterloo International.