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Employment Questions

These are the most common employment questions we hear from international students:


If you have questions or need assistance, please contact one of the IESS Advisors.

What are the regulations for employment and volunteering?

The immigration regulations that allow for international student employment can be found on the Work Opportunities webpage. The immigration regulations that allow for international student volunteering can be found on the Volunteer Work webpage. Read these regulations carefully, and do not work without the proper authorization. If you do, you may be asked to leave Canada.

How do I apply for a Work Permit?

International students who wish to work off campus while completing their studies must first obtain a Work Permit. Detailed instructions and application kits for the Off-Campus Work Permit, the Co-op Work Permit and the Post-Graduation Work Permit are available on the Work in Canada webpage.

Where do I find out about employment opportunities?

Employment opportunities are available, both on and off campus. Visit the Career Services website for assistance with your work search and career planning.

Some on campus jobs are work study positions. The work study program is open to all students who can show financial need. Visit the Work Study Program website for more information.

Co-operative education is an excellent way for students to combine academic studies with relevant work experience. Visit the Co-operative Education Program website for more information.

How do I get a Social Insurance Number?

To receive payment for work in Canada, you must have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). In order to apply for a SIN, you need either a valid work permit or an offer of employment for an on campus job. Detailed instructions and application kits are available on the Service Canada website.

Why should I file a Canadian income tax return?

The Canadian tax system is based on residency and not citizenship, so most international degree program students are eligible to complete and file income tax returns.

If you earned employment income in Canada, and income tax was taken off your paycheques, you can probably claim back all or most of the income tax. Even if you did not earn any Canadian income, you would probably still benefit from filing a Canadian income tax return for each year you study in Canada. For example, most students qualify for the GST/HST credit. This credit is a refund for some of the GST/HST you paid throughout the year. If you qualify for the GST/HST credit, the Canadian government will send you a cheque or deposit money into your account four times per year. You must apply for this credit each year when you file an income tax return. As a student, you can also claim credits for tuition, education and textbook expenses. You will probably not be able to use these credits until you complete your program of study, but you must claim them in the year that you earn them by filing an income tax return. Unused credits can be rolled forward until you need them. In the future, if you stay in Canada and earn employment income, the Canadian government will take income tax off your paycheques, but you will be able to claim back all or most of the income tax in exchange for your credits.

How can I file a Canadian income tax return?

The IESS office hosts free Income Tax Clinics in March and April every year for UVic international degree program students.

In 2013, the clinics will take place at the IESS office, located in University Centre Building A205, from 10:00am to 1:00pm on March 12, 14, 26 and 28 and April 2, 4, 9 and 11.

Registration is not required for these clinics. Students will be helped in order of arrival. Choose the date that works best for your schedule, and be prepared to stay for approximately one hour. We will review and collect your documents and ask you to complete some forms. The process will go much better and faster for students who bring the following items (if applicable):

- UVic student card

- Passport and study permit

- Social Insurance Number (SIN) or Individual Tax Number (ITN)

- All T2202A slips for education expenses (You can print your UVic T2202A slips from My Page.)

- All T4 slips for employment income (Contact your employer if you worked in Canada and did not receive a T4 slip.)

- All T4A slips for scholarships, bursaries, research grants, etc. (You can print your UVic T4A slips from My Page)

- All T5 slips for investment income (Contact your financial institution if you earned investment income in Canada and did not receive a T5 slip.)

- Child care expense receipts and/or children's fitness and art activity receipts

- Charitable donation receipts

- Last year’s Notice of Assessment or Reassessment

After the clinic, we will pass your documents and forms over to a trained volunteer who will complete your income tax return. We will notify you by email when your income tax return is complete, and you will need to visit the IESS office to retrieve your documents. This process will take up to three weeks.

Please note that the IESS Income Tax Clinics are for students who have low income and simple tax situations.

The maximum annual income levels are as follows:

Single person up to $30,000

Couple up to $40,000

One adult with one child up to $35,000

Complex tax situations that are NOT eligible include income tax returns for:

short-term international students - exchange students, visiting students and visiting research students,

individuals who earn foreign employment income,

self-employed individuals,

individuals who own property,

individuals who report capital gains or losses,

individuals who report employment expenses, moving expenses or rental income and expenses, and

individuals who file for bankruptcy.

The deadline for filing a Canadian income tax return for the previous calendar year is April 30, but there is no penalty for filing after the deadline if you do not owe taxes, and it is very unlikely that an international student would owe taxes. If you are not eligible to attend due to high income or a complex tax situation, we recommend paying a tax professional to prepare your income tax return.

How can I find out more about income tax issues in Canada?

Visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.


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