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Is it permissible for a foreign national to possess both a valid study permit and a work permit concurrently?

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Given that certain prerequisites are fulfilled, it is indeed feasible for a foreign national to concurrently possess both a study permit and a work permit.

Because work permits and study permits entail distinct eligibility criteria and stipulations, individuals aiming to hold both permits simultaneously must satisfy the eligibility requirements for each permit independently.

For more information regarding eligibility for study permits, please refer to this resource, and for details on work permits, visit this link.

Moreover, when applying for both permits simultaneously, applicants must persuade an immigration officer of their ability to balance work and study commitments effectively.

Book a Complimentary Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

As per guidelines from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), this objective can be achieved by submitting a letter of explanation as part of the permit application*. The letter of explanation, aimed at demonstrating the applicant’s ability to manage both work and study commitments, should outline “how you’ll balance your work schedule with your studies.”

*For online permit applications, applicants are instructed to upload their letter of explanation in the Client information section of their document checklist.

Key things to know about holding two permits

While it’s feasible for certain individuals to pursue studies in Canada without a study permit while holding a valid work permit, the ability to hold two permits concurrently could affect eligibility for other programs, such as the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) program.

Foreign workers who can study without a study permit

Certain individuals holding work permits in Canada may be eligible to study without a study permit under the following conditions:

They possess a valid work permit issued on or before June 7, 2023.

They have been issued a work authorization letter* (for work while their permit application is processed) on or before June 7, 2023.

*It’s important to note that this letter can also be utilized by individuals awaiting a decision on a work permit extension, as specified by IRCC.

Note:To explore your eligibility for studying in Canada without a study permit, click here for further details.

Possible impact on eligibility for other programs

Permanent Residence (PR)

For individuals aspiring to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) in Canada, it’s essential to note that according to IRCC, work experience accumulated while holding a study permit typically doesn’t fulfill the work experience requirements for most PR programs.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as eligibility for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). Notably, none of the three programs administered by the Express Entry application management system consider work experience acquired in Canada while the applicant is a full-time student when calculating their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

Note:CRS scores play a pivotal role in ranking candidate profiles within the Express Entry system prior to an IRCC draw. Utilize this link to access a CRS calculator for Express Entry and determine your score.

Unlike the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) provides conditional allowance for applicants to utilize Canadian work experience gained while holding a study permit to fulfill the program’s minimum requirements and eligibility criteria.

It’s crucial to differentiate between minimum eligibility points and CRS scores. Although this form of work experience might augment minimum eligibility points, it won’t contribute to CRS scores.

For an applicant’s work experience to be considered towards meeting the FSWP’s minimum requirements.

The work experience must:

Have been compensated with wages or commissions, whether full-time or part-time.

Have been continuous, with no gaps in employment, for a minimum of one year.

Satisfy all other prerequisites of the program.


International students aiming to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) post-studies must ensure they adhere to all PGWP program eligibility criteria while holding two permits concurrently.

Of utmost importance, dual permit holders must maintain full-time student status throughout all semesters of their study program, even while engaged in employment.

Next steps

Navigating the process of concurrently holding two permits can be intricate due to differing eligibility criteria for each permit type. Moreover, crafting a compelling letter of explanation, pivotal for demonstrating to IRCC a candidate’s ability to balance work and study in Canada, can present challenges.

For individuals seeking guidance and assistance prior to pursuing dual permits, consulting an immigration lawyer can be invaluable. Immigration lawyers, as regulated professionals, offer expertise in various permit-related tasks, including:

Assisting newcomers in thoroughly and accurately completing applications.

Acting as intermediaries with the Canadian government on behalf of work/study permit applicants.

Ensuring applicants steer clear of critical errors throughout the permit process.


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