Jobandeep Sandhu was working full time as a truck driver when he was stopped for a routine inspection by police in Ontario, two weeks ahead of his graduation.
The law states international students can work up to 20 hours during term time, and full-time during scheduled school breaks.
According to the Canadore College student, he needed to work in order to afford his tuition, and his studies were not adversely affected.
“International students don’t get the same labour rights that everyone else gets”
“I went to all my classes. I passed all my courses. I only worked on weekends,” Sandhu said.
“My first priority in Canada was to study, but I had no other option. I would have to stop my studies if I didn’t work to pay for school.”
As it stands, Sandhu must leave the country before June 15.
However, campaigners have started a petition calling for international students to get equal labour rights as domestic students.
“I had a choice either to stop studying or work harder to support my education and my dreams. I chose the latter,” Sandhu explained.
“What is happening to me is happening to a lot of people. International students don’t get the same labour rights that everyone else gets. There is a broader structural issue in our laws that limit these rights to only a few.”
Co-ordinator at the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change Syed Hussan noted, “One of the largest pools of migrant workers in the country is people who are international students and are essentially low-wage, precarious, part-time workers who study and then generally leave the country.”
Independent member of the Canadian House of Commons Darshan Singh Kang highlighted the case in parliament, asking the minister of immigration Ahmed Hussen to raise the number of hours international students can legally work in Canada.
“While these students are learning in schools, they are also working and contributing to our economy,” Singh Kang stated.
“Mr Sandu is facing deportation for working too much, this is sad, and this is not right.”
Hussen explained that the government had made changes to the post-graduate work permit to allow students to stay and work in Canada following graduation, but it was “important” for visa applicants to “live up to the requirements of the immigration system”.
Immigration department spokesperson Beatrice Fenelon told The Hamilton Spectator that regulation tries to ensure that study permit holders are genuine students.
“Limiting off-campus work to 20 hours per week while class is in session reflects that the student is genuinely pursuing their studies while continuing to offer the opportunity to gain valuable workplace experience in Canada and earn some money,” she said.
“A person seeking to work full-time would have a primary purpose of working, not studying, and should seek a work permit.”
A CBIE spokesperson told The PIE News that working during studies is important for visiting students.
“We know from our latest International Student Survey that the opportunity to work while studying is a key driver for the majority (62%) of students who choose Canada,” they explained.
“Our research shows that many students (75%) value opportunities to work following their studies as well.”