Work restrictions on international students make difficult situations worse

Current policies don’t consider the high cost of living or the benefit foreign students bring to Canada

International students pay four times more in tuition, but are only allowed to work 20 hours a week. Photo courtesy of Josefa nDiaz via Unsplash

By: Naaz Sekhon, SFU Student

Canada has always prided itself on being an accepting and diverse nation, home to people of many backgrounds and ethnicities. Especially when it comes to policies: Canada is known to have inclusive laws that work for its people, and not against.

However, work restriction policies are definitely not working for international students. These policies have recently been called into question following the arrest of international student Jobandeep Singh Sandhu. According to Global News, Sandhu was arrested in Ontario for working more than 20 hours off campus — the restriction put on international students with a student visa. His deportation date was set for June 15 despite his graduation being two weeks away.

This policy desperately needs to be amended in order to lessen the burden of the cost of tuition combined with the high cost of living in Canada. International students should be able to legally fund their studies through full-time work, the same as domestic students who are under no working restrictions. Especially when international students contribute $15 billion to the Canadian economy every year, as reported by the Conference Board of Canada. Working more hours should not be considered a crime, as it can be the only option for students like Sandhu.

According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition cost for international students now totals around $27,159, a 6.3% increase from the previous year. This cost is around four times the amount domestic students have to pay, showing how discriminatory this policy is for international students who need to work to fund their education.

Many international students from SFU have similar concerns regarding their tuition and work hour restrictions. Talking to some international students, one voiced his concern about how he feels it is deeply unfair that many of his peers who are domestic students are able to work under no restrictions despite their tuition costs being substantially less. Another stated that the quality of his life would improve if he could work more. Their thoughts reiterate how this work restriction is not working for the betterment of international students, who happen to represent a great number of students in Canada.

International students deal with many barriers when it comes to getting an education abroad and putting a limit on working hours restricts access to this education even more. This policy goes against Canadian values, which have always been to uplift and support. Instead, it puts international students at a clear financial disadvantage.