If you choose to pursue an international co-op work term, you will be going to a foreign country to complete one of your co-op degree requirements. There are legal requirements for working outside Canada; you will likely require legal authorization (visa/permit) to legally allow you to undertake your co-op opportunity in the given country. It will be important that you're aware of how they apply to you, and that you prepare in advance.
Also, the University supports international experiences as part of its internationalization strategic indicator.
With the changing politics across the world, it is likely that immigration statuses will be more closely monitored by the local authorities. Please ensure that you are using the correct immigration pathway for your co-op term in consultation with your employer and the issuing authority. You own your immigration status in a foreign country. So, exercise due caution to ensure that you are taking the correct steps:
- Refrain from leaving Canada, without having the correct immigration documentation in hand, which, in some countries, may require an employment authorization. This may vary accordingly to the specifics of your case, including the activities undertaken, the duration of stay, and many other facets.
- Once a tourist, family, study, or such visa/authorization is issued, it may prove difficult or impossible to convert it to the correct authorization required for your co-op internship, despite the assurances of the employer or the issuing authority that this can be done at a later time.
- In any event, it may very well be illegal to hand in your travel documents to a foreign entity while pursuing an internship abroad.
- Remember, it is your responsibility to respect local laws and customs/etiquette, and avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. Always monitor the Global Affairs Canada advisories, and make informed decisions about your travel.
Please keep the following in mind as you plan your international travel:
- You must know what the legal requirements are: It is important that you and your employer understand and know the legal requirements and authorizations to enable you to undertake the activities for which you are going abroad.
- Your immigration status is your individual responsibility: As such, you are accountable for obtaining the proper authorization documentation (visa/work permit, etc). We cannot advise on eligibility nor can we guarantee any outcomes. Please seek your independent legal immigration advisors if you have any questions regarding eligibility and outcome.
- You might need supporting documentation from your employer: If you require any documentation from your employer to support this process, you should contact them directly. If the documentation needs to be attested by the co-op department (including, but not limited to, Convention d’Stage (France), COE (Japan, Hong Kong), etc, as applicable to you), contact the International Employment Specialist.
- Co-operative Education will provide supporting documentation: We will provide a ‘Letter of Support’ that attests to your valid work term and university support for international experience. This might be needed as part of your visa/permit application process. If you require a ‘Letter of Support’ for the visa/permit process for a co-op work term only, please contact the International Employment Specialist.
- The issuing person/agency will decide the type of visa/permit: The type and class of visa/work permit is determined by the issuing authority; confirming what you might be eligible for is beyond the scope of our service and expertise.
- Co-operative Education cannot comment on the ability of foreign companies to make offers: We cannot guarantee or comment on the ability of any foreign country to extend a co-op opportunity as it is up to individual employers to make their decision based on the information they have, including their assessment of successful entry into their country for a given individual. We cannot predict whether your nationality will affect the likelihood of a job offer.
- Assess whether declaring your citizenship in your co-op job application will be useful: When applying for jobs outside of Canada, if you think that declaring your citizenship will be advantageous, mentioning your citizenship in cover letters or resumes might be an effective approach. In any case, ensure that you contact your student advisor for the best advice.
- Preparedness and understanding risks are key before undertaking any travels 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.
The University has issued a statement on the current USA immigration change. A Co-operative Education department memo has also been published.
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. Any letters of enrolment or status verification must be acquired from the Registrar’s Office.
For any international exchanges or study-related inquiries about countries outside of Canada, please contact Waterloo International.
Application process and travelling abroad
- There may be long wait times for consulate/embassy/third-party immigration provider visa/permit appointments. Ensure that you contact them as soon as you have confirmed your work term to book an appointment time (if applicable).
- Always represent your intent truthfully and completely to immigration or customs officers. Do not twist or 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 given country.
- Immigration officials might have extended questioning for you for any reason they deem necessary, or might ask you to go to another secure area for secondary screening for any reason they deem necessary. You must co-operate professionally; this is not the time for sarcasm, witty remarks, opinions or back-talk. Don’t play with your phone; pay attention to what is going on, and answer any questions officials may have truthfully.
- Always have correct and complete paperwork ready. Travel with all your passports, not just the current one. 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 the visa/permit you have 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 necessary steps to legally maintain your presence in the country.