Tens of thousands of international students enrolling in Ontario’s post-secondary institutions yearly are now concerned about the impact of the faculty strike at 24 Ontario colleges, many of which are designated learning institutions. The teaching staff on strike are prepared for a long stay on the picket line, causing possibility of an elongated semester or longer school year which has international students worried about their education and, of course, their immigration status.
The strike also impacts their financial status, as they face the loss of their tuition fees and the additional rent money incurred if the semester is prolonged. Despite the interruption to their studies, international students are unable to pick up more hours at their part-time jobs. International students are allowed to perform up to 20 hours of work per week during regular school sessions and are only able to work full-time during scheduled breaks (such as winter and summer holidays or spring break).
An international student with a study permit must be able to demonstrate that they are making progress towards completing their program, amongst other requirements. Typically, failure to do so might lead to a loss of temporary resident status. In addition, some international students are worried that the strike will affect their ability to qualify for a post-graduation work permit, as students must have continuously studied full-time in order to be eligible.
In an attempt to relieve the concerns of international students impacted by the strike, IRCC has confirmed that international students who are unable to fulfil that condition due to the strike will not face enforcement action “as it is a circumstance beyond their control.” The interruption caused by the strike will not affect their ability to qualify for a post-graduation work permit either.
It is still the student’s responsibility to maintain valid temporary residence at all times and ensure that they are renewing their study permit during this period before it expires or becomes invalid. International students who need to apply for study permit extensions to finish their program should include a letter from their school’s registrar, confirming the impact of the strike.