Study Abroad Is Not What It Seems

Foreign students should be aware of the rules when working too hard.

International students are a great money maker for the Canadian economy. These students contribute over $15 billion to the economy each year and support 170,000 jobs. Under current rules, foreign students with a valid study permit who are pursuing academic, vocational or professional training of six months or more leading to a degree, diploma or certificate at a designated institution, will be eligible to work off campus for up to 20 hours per week during the academic session and full time during scheduled breaks. Working at minimum wage at 20 hours a week, you can earn around $1,000 a month. With rent, food and tuition fees rising, the pressure is on to work as hard and soon as possible. Working under-the-table jobs, beyond the allowed number of hours, is how international students try to meet their expenses although it is illegal.

Under-the-table jobs include working in repairs, being a handyman, day laborer or dish washer. These jobs, commonly known as cash jobs, are the agreement between the employer and the employee to work for cash and do not require a social insurance number or a work permit. Many students take them, and usually work more hours than they are allowed. They get paid below the minimum wage, face risks such as not getting paid on time, or even not being paid at all. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the average market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is about $1,492 per month. Adding in the rising tuition fees, the cost of books and materials, and expenses for food and transportation, with no outside support from family or loans, students are in a bind. The case of Indian international student Jobandeep Sandhu is an example. Sandhu worked full time as a truck driver while studying because it was the only way he could afford to stay in school. Working illegally seems to be a worthwhile risk for many international students. Nevertheless, they may be deported forever when discovered.

What happens when facing deportation?

The first stage of the process is Canadian Border and Services Agency (CBSA) sending a letter requesting the potential deportee to attend an interview at a local enforcement office. The deportee receives the removal or deportation order that indicates the removal date from Canada has been set, usually around one month after the interview. He or she can prepare to go home or fight the order, complicated process that should be handled by an immigration lawyer or professional. When an interview is requested, do not delay getting help since quick action is important.

To defer or stop deportation, a valid reason is required, such as a pending application for Canadian permanent residence. If the request is denied, the next step is a Federal Court Stay, which is a motion to the Federal Court of Canada asking the court to stop the deportation. The Stay will involve drafting legal arguments, researching case law and assembling supporting documentation which will be reviewed by a judge. The lawyers for the deportee and Canada Immigration will make oral arguments to a Federal Court Judge. The judge then considers many factors to make a decision. If the Stay is granted, the deportation is stopped. Otherwise, the deportation proceeds according to schedule.

Facing Deportation

Case of Jobandeep Sandhu

Jobandeep Sandhu, 22 years old, is an international student from Punjab, India, studying a Mechanical Engineering Technician diploma at Canadore College in Mississauga, Ontario. Sandhu worked as a full-time truck driver – roughly 35-40 hours a week while studying.

On December 13, 2017, Sandhu was pulled over by an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer on Highway 401 for a “routine traffic stop” while driving a commercial vehicle between Montreal and Toronto.

He had no criminal history at the time of his arrest. But he exceeded the maximum number of working hours per week that an international student is allowed. He was charged only a few days before he would be eligible to graduate.

Sandhu was ordered to buy a flight home and leave Canada no later than May 31, 2019. Then in a scheduled meeting with CBSA, Sandhu was told the ticket he had bought was not accepted because it had a transit in Dubai. He needed to buy a new one without a connection straight to his home country and he was given until June 15, 2019 to leave Canada.

The story of Jobandeep Sandhu is a warning for other international students who are working illegally.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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