WORLD NEWS International students say labour rule extension buys them time,...

International students say labour rule extension buys them time, but doesn’t solve financial strain | CBC News

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International students in London are breathing a sigh of relief after learning that a temporary policy that removed a cap on the number of work hours they can work while enrolled in classes has been extended until April 30, 2024.

The policy, which was implemented in November 2022 as a way to help address a country-wide labour shortage, allowed international students to work more than 20 hours per week, and was set to expire after Dec. 31.

“I was terrified about the deadline, very terrified, because expenses are really high and savings are pretty low right now,” said Samir Simkhada, a Fanshawe College student from Nepal. “The government made the right choice.”

Simkhada calls the number of hours he’s able to work a matter of survival, especially in a foreign country with cold winters and high tuition fees. A full-time job is the only way to make ends meet and keep food on the table, he said.

“I’m comfortable now with the situation I’m facing,” he said, adding that he’s eagerly awaiting to hear when his graduation date will be in April 2024, praying that it’s before the newly announced cut-off date.

Samir Simkhada is a Fanshawe College student from Nepal. He works off-campus and was pleased to hear about the extension for being able to work more than 20 hours per week. (Alessio Donnini/CBC News)

Along with short-term relief, the announcement has done little to quell long-term concerns for international students who spoke with CBC News.

Alisha Gill is one such Fanshawe student. She’s originally from northern India, and works between 35 and 40 hours per week. In her eyes, the government’s decision to extend the policy for four months is simply kicking the problem down the road.

“It definitely helps the new students, but the ones coming next year or later than April 30, they won’t be able to get a lot of work here,” Gill said, adding that in her experience, employers are not willing to keep international students around if they can’t work close to full-time hours.

“After April 30, my friends and I might have problems looking for jobs, too,” she said.

Aparna Santoshkumar is a Fanshawe student from India. She's saving money in anticipation of April 30.
Aparna Santoshkumar is a Fanshawe College student from India. She’s saving money in anticipation of April 30. (Alessio Donnini/CBC News)

Students like Gill and Aparna Santoshkumar, who is also from India, are still bracing for what life might look like after April 30, despite being pleased with the extra time to prepare.

“It’s better that they increase the working hours because we are not able to meet the expenses here easily,” said Santoshkumar.

Part of that preparation for what seems like the inevitable reality of being forced to work fewer hours — and as a result, being forced to decide between paying for food and rent — includes plenty of saving, Santoshkumar said.

She and her friends are putting away money ahead of time to brace for what’s to come, she said.

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced on Thursday that the federal government will continue to evaluate the policy.

“We continue to examine options for this policy in the future, such as expanding off-campus work hours for international students to 30 hours per week while class is in session,” a news release from his office said.

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