Co-op Work Permits for International Students

 As an international student, I was unsure of my future in Canada. Now, I am confident and enthusiastic about my life here thanks to the co-op program. The co-op program has reinvented me by broadening my horizons, enriching my perspective, developing my professional skills, establishing a social network, and enlighted a wonderful path towards my career goal. I have gained invaluable experience which can hardly be learned from courses."

Hailin (Holly) Wu | Co-op student at Surge Energy Inc and Enerplus Resources

Who should apply for a Co-op Work Permit?

Co-op work permits are required for all international students who wish to participate in a co-op/internship program at the University of Lethbridge. Only registered students in attendance at the U of L who have been accepted by the University of Lethbridge Co-op Program receive the necessary official letter of confirmation from the Co-op Program that accompanies their application for a Co-op Work Permit through Immigration, Refugees and citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The Co-op Work Permit must be received prior to commencing work in a co-op/internship position.

When should I apply for a Co-op Work Permit?

Apply as early as possible. You will not be able to access the job postings unless you have a valid Co-op Work Permit. As applications can sometimes take a long time to process, you should apply well before you intend to begin your first co-op term.

How long will it take to receive my work permit?

Processing times depend on how busy the Case Processing Centre is at the time you apply. For updated processing times please check the IRCC website at:

Do I have to have a job offer prior to applying?

No. You may apply for a Co-op Work Permit as soon as you are accepted into the Co-op Program. You must have a valid study permit.

Do I need a Co-op Work Permit, even if I am permitted to work on or off campus with my Study Permit?

Yes.  All international students participating in the Co-op Program must have a valid Co-op Work Permit.  If you have other questions about your eligibility to work, please see the International Student Advisor at the International Centre (SU040).

How much does it cost for a Co-op Work Permit?

There is no fee to apply for or renew a Co-op Work Permit from IRCC.

How do I apply for or renew a Co-op Work Permit?

1. You will need a confirmation letter from the Co-op office that states that you are a registered U of L student who is part of the Co-op Program and that the employment sought is an essential part of your program of study (Bachelor of Management Co-op) in Canada.  You will need this letter to accompany your  application to IRCC. Please send a scanned copy of your study permit along with a signed International Student Contract, which you will receive from your Coordinator, to Susan at and indicate your request for the "Co-op Work Permit Confirmation Letter" to receive this letter.

2. Apply through IRCC's website at Once you have received your Co-op Work Permit, you MUST provide the Co-op Office with a copy.

Who can help me with my Co-op Work Permit application?

Please visit the International Centre and speak to a Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA).  Only authorized representatives such as RISIAs are permitted to provide advice regarding immigration applications such a study permits and co-op work permits.

What is a Social Insurance Number and how do I get one?

A Social Insurance Number is a unique nine-digit number that you need to work and get paid in Canada.

As long as one of the following conditions appears on your study permit, you can apply for a Social Insurance Number:

  • May work 20 hrs per week off-campus or full-time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in section 186(v) of IRPR
  • May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria as per R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria

Go to your local Service Canada office to apply for your Social Insurance Number.  Make sure to take your passport, as well as your valid Study Permit with you.  Most people get their Social Insurance Number (SIN) at the time of application.