Co-ops and Internships

Experiential learning activities (e.g. co-op, internship, practicum, placement, etc.) may meet the definition of “ work” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. International students require a work permit to complete experiential learning (paid or unpaid) activities which are considered “work”.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) allows international students to work in Canada while studying in their academic program. In addition to on-campus and off-campus work opportunities, some study programs include work experience as part of their curriculum. You can apply for a co-op or intern work permit if:

  • you have a valid study permit
  • work is required to complete your study program in Canada
  • you have a letter from your school that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
  • your co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of your study program

If students apply for and obtain a co-op work permit with a co-op letter received from their program, the employer named on the work permit will be Western University (or The University of Western Ontario). Students may only accept employment and work for an employer that has been approved by their Program for the specified work term.

Co-op work permits enable international students to complete work experience that is an essential component of their study program.

Not all experiential learning activities are essential to the study program. In this circumstance, international students would not be eligible for a co-op work permit.

Moreover, international students would not be able to use the on- or off-campus work authorizations on their study permits to complete experiential learning activities. These authorizations cannot be used for work related to a course of study. Only international students able to obtain a co-op work permit would be able to complete courses with an experiential learning component.

If you are unsure about the internship/co-op/practicum options available in your Faculty, or who to contact for more information, please visit and select “Discover Your Options” to find the program information and contact info for the Career Services Officer/Team in your Faculty.

For help with your resume, cover letter, interview skills:

  • Connect with the Career Services Officer/Team in your Faculty (see
  • Visit and select “Prepare” to view resources, schedule an appointment with a Career Coach, request resume feedback, etc.

Approved Study Permit holders who are currently in Canada and have applied for a Co-op Work Permit

Students who are already in Canada and have applied for a co-op work permit may begin their co-op placement using their on-campus and off-campus work authorization while waiting for their co-op work permit, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements.

There is no limit on work hours for on-campus work.

For off-campus work, students can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session including both the hours worked at their co-op job and those worked at their other off-campus job (if they have one). They can work full-time during the regularly scheduled breaks.

If the co-op application is refused, they must stop working immediately.

For further information on working regulations for international student including co-op work permit, please reach out to our International Student Advisors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I still a Western student while I do my co-op work placement?

Yes, you will maintain your full-time student status at Western University.

Will doing a co-op work placement affect my ability to qualify for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?

No. You maintain full-time students status during your co-op, and you are still considered to be studying during that time as the co-op placement is a mandatory part of your program.

Can I use my co-op work permit to work with an employer who is not approved by Western or a department at Western?

No. You can only use the co-op work permit to work for an employer that has been approved by the co-op coordinator.

Can I use my co-op work permit to work beyond my co-op term for the same employer who is approved by my program?

No. You can only use the co-op work permit to work for the required school-related work placement.

What if my study permit expires during my co-op work term?

It is your responsibility to apply for a study permit and your co-op work permit extension before the expiry date.