Co-op Work Permit
Watch our guide on An Overview of the Co-op Work Permit (Requires logging-in with UTORid)
Work experience is a required component of some programs of study. If you are registered in such a program, you may need a work permit to fulfill this requirement. The co-op work permit can be used to complete a required work placement either on or off campus.
- On campus teaching or research assistant (TA or RA) work that is a part of many graduate programs does not require a co-op work permit.
- There is no processing fee for the co-op work permit.
- The University of Toronto will be listed as the employer (though you are not limited to working for the University) and the expiry date of your work permit will usually match the expiry date of your study permit.
- The co-op work permit can only be used to complete your required internship/work placement.
Despite the temporary policy change regarding off-campus work hours, international students still MUST apply for a co-op work permit for their required internship(s)/co-op term(s). If the co-op work permit application is delayed, students who meet the eligibility criteria may begin a required internship/co-op term under this policy change.
To be eligible for this work permit you must:
- have (or be applying for) a valid study permit, and
- get a letter from your Faculty or program indicating that a placement, co-op or internship is a required part of your academic program.
Co-op work permit applications (that are not part of a study permit application) are not commonly submitted outside Canada.
If you already have your study permit, and your circumstances allow, we strongly encourage students to return to Canada in time to apply for the work permit from within Canada.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Estimated processing times give an idea of how long an application could take to be processed. If something outside of your control makes urgent processing important, you can contact IRCC through their web form to ask if it is possible. It may take up to two weeks to get a response. Note: Use the ‘Update or ask about your application’ option and then the ‘Other’ section, as the ‘Ask for urgent processing for your permanent resident card’ section doesn’t include study/work permits.
Here are three other options to explore:
- You may be eligible to begin your full-time work placement under your study permit before the work permit is issued if you meet the eligibility criteria of this temporary policy change regarding off-campus work hours.
- If the work placement that requires you to get the co-op/internship work permit begins/takes place during a scheduled break in your program (e.g. summer for most undergraduate students), you can begin the placement under your study permit before the work permit is issued, as long as you are enrolled full-time before the break and will continue your work placement or full-time studies after the break. Check with your Registrar’s Office for questions about whether your program has scheduled breaks. Connect with an International Student Immigration Advisor to confirm whether you are eligible to begin working under your study permit.
- If options # 1 and #2 are not available to you, and it will not be possible for you to get your co-op work permit in time to begin your work placement, it may be possible for you to apply for the co-op work permit through the flag-poling process.
- Students who can enter the United States (from Canada) can do so and complete the process on their return to Canada (either at a land border or at the airport where they arrive in Canada).
- Students who cannot enter the US can still complete this process at a land border crossing. This process is known by some as ‘flag-poling’.
- IMPORTANT: If you are not eligible to enter the US, you can expect to be denied entry at their border before being able to return to Canada. This is normal and should not have long-term negative consequences as long as you answer ‘yes’ if asked in the future whether you have been denied entry to the US.
- Flag-poling at some border crossings (including the Peace, Queenston-Lewiston, and Rainbow Bridges in the Niagara region – closest to Toronto) is limited to specific days and hours.
- IMPORTANT: Even if you go during the identified days and times, Border Services Officers may choose not to process an application at the border.
- If planning to flag-pole, it is a good idea to try visiting the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) office on the Canadian side before you leave Canada to ask if they can confirm that you have everything necessary for the process and whether they will be able to help you on your return.
Even if you have an in-Canada application in process, flag-poling requires you to submit a new application upon entry. That means you must have your supporting documentation (noted above). If the work permit is issued, you can cancel the in-Canada application.
IMPORTANT: If your work placement will bring you into close contact with people (ie. health care settings, child care or educational settings, or elder care) or will involve agricultural work, an Immigration Medical Exam must have been completed before applying at the border (preferably at least one month prior). Without the medical exam, your work permit may exclude work in these and similar areas. IRCC provides details about the medical exam requirements.
However you complete the process, you should be prepared to meet Canada’s entry requirements.
In most cases, it is necessary to wait until the co-op work permit is issued. If your work placement begins during a scheduled break in your program, it may be possible to start your work under the authorization provided by your study permit.
Find details about on and off-campus work eligibility.
If you want to work in a health-care setting, primary/secondary school setting, or other jobs where the protection of public health is important, you must undergo an Immigration Medical Exam (IME). The remark on your co-op work permit is likely due to you not having an IME previously. To get the remark removed, you will need to apply to change the conditions of your co-op work permit and complete an IME with a panel physician (either before you apply, known as an upfront medical exam, or before a decision is made on your new application). We recommend completing the upfront medical exam out of hope that it will speed up the process. You should not begin work that is not authorized by your existing permit until you receive your new co-op work permit that has the restrictions removed. See the FAQs above if you need to begin that work urgently.