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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.


  1. 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.
  2. There is no processing fee for the co-op work permit.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

If you are admitted into the placement, co-op or internship stream when admitted into your program, you should request the co-op work permit as part of your study permit application. 

If you are admitted into the work integrated learning/co-op stream after you start your program, you should apply as soon as you have the proof from your Faculty or program that employment is a required part of your academic program. This should happen at least 6 months before the start of the work placement to allow enough time for the work permit to be issued.

Important: Your answers on the online eligibility questionnaire determine which documents you must submit. These are standard requirements, but be prepared to provide other documents if requested by IRCC.

  • Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker (IMM5710)
    • Look for the title at the top of the application, or the code at the bottom-left corner of each page. 
  • Co-op letter
    • Co-op letters are issued by representatives of the program that requires you to complete a work placement.
  • Copies from your passport or travel document
    • Including the biographical data page and all pages with visas, stamps or markings. Note: IRCC cannot issue a Co-Op Work Permit that is valid past the expiry date of your passport.
    • If you’ve got a brand new passport, you can provide copies from both your new and old passports, but put the new passport first, and mark it as ‘New Passport’ if possible. 
  • Passport-style photograph
  • Copy of your study permit

You may need other documents, including, but not limited to:

  • Biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs)
  • Immigration medical exam results (see section below).

If you are applying for the Co-Op Work Permit along with your first study permit application from outside Canada, please consult our information about applying for a study permit.

If you are applying for a Co-op Work Permit with your study permit extension application from inside Canada, please consult our additional information about extending your study permit and watch the following recording.

Watch our guide on Co-op Work (COWP) Permit Application and Study Permit Extension (Requires logging-in with UTORid)

If you are applying for the work permit on its own, you should apply online. Start by reviewing IRCC’s instruction guide for student work permit applications made in Canada.

If you are planning to work with children, patients in the health services field, or other areas where protection of public health is required, you must have an immigration medical exam. You will also require one if you have been in a ‘designated’ country for at least 6 of the past 12 months. 

IRCC provides details about who requires immigration medical exams, who can offer them, and more.

If you require one, you can book the appointment before submitting your application, or you can do so once requested by IRCC. It is usually a good idea to do so in advance.

If you had an immigration medical exam within the 12 months prior to applying for your work permit, upload proof (i.e. a copy of your medical receipt) in your online application. Failure to do so may result in processing delays or the rejection of your application.

Note: A temporary public policy for immigration medical exams (IME) until October 6, 2024 may exempt eligible in-Canada applicants from the IME requirement.

If you are not an American citizen and have not provided biometrics as part of a Canadian immigration application in the past 10 years, you will be required to do so.

Immigration officers may ask you for additional documentation to make a decision about your application. If they ask you to attach the documents to your online application, you will login to your account where you must upload the documents and re-submit the application. IRCC provides specific details about how to do so. Failure to do so will likely result in a refusal of your application.

If you need to notify IRCC about a change, you can use their web form.

If you wish to track the status of your application, you can create a special IRCC “tracker account” to do so (note: this is not the same account where you submitted the online application).

IRCC will notify you through your IRCC account that the application was approved. The co-op work permit will be mailed to the Canadian mailing address you provided in the application. This process could take as long as 6 weeks.

Tips/important note on applying for a Co-op Work Permit inside Canada

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.

Register for a live Question and Answer session (Requires logging-in with JOINid/UTORid)

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Check out our Resources page for more support.