March 18, 2018 – Canada has seen an increase in the number of international students transitioning to permanent residence.
More than 1,000 more former Study Permit holders became permanent residents in 2017 compared to 2016. Federal government figures show more than 9,400 former students became permanent residents in 2017, compared with 8,250 in 2016.
The increase follows a continued push by immigration authorities to prioritize international students as important new permanent residents of Canada. Canada currently issues more than 400,000 study permits to international students each year.
Federal government pro-student rhetoric has been backed up with policy changes, including increased points for international students under Canada Express Entry, and specific streams targeting graduates under programs such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s message to international students is firstly they are welcome to come here and study, and secondly, they are welcome to stay and build careers after they graduate.
Figures: Government of Canada
A three-step process has been established in Canada targeting international students. First, they hold Study Permits while in full time education, second, they become eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit, and third, they can use all the experience gathered to qualify for permanent residence.
It had made Canada one of the more attractive countries in the world for foreign students considering their study options. Universities in Canada figures show a 10.7 per cent increase in the number of international students, country-wide.
The focus on international students has also come at a time when the U.S. has become a considerably less attractive option for immigrants under President Donald Trump. It means Canada has been far more successful in boosting its foreign student cohort with one of its key competitors led by a staunchly anti-immigration administration.
Canadian University International Student Cohort, 2017 Increase
|Province||2017 Increase (%)|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||10.5|
|Prince Edward Island||12.8|
Figures: Universities Canada
Ottawa recently announced that it will accept nearly a million new permanent residents over the next three years, and a significant chunk of those are expected to be international students who are graduates from Canadian universities.
The federal government sees them as blue chip new permanent residents: young people with a Canadian education, knowledge of the official languages, often with Canadian work experience and knowledge of how life works here. This puts them already on the pathway to integration, a crucial buzz word at IRCC.
Since coming to power in fall 2015, the Liberal government has attempted to make it easier for international students to gain permanent residence.
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At the federal level, the government has introduced points under Canada Express Entry. In November 2016, Comprehensive Ranking System points were added for three-year post secondary, master’s, professional degrees and doctorates (30 CRS points) and post-secondary diplomas lasting one or two years (15 CRS points). No points are awarded for a Canadian high school education or below. This gives many graduates the extra push they need to achieve a coveted Invitation to Apply.
The federal government and relevant provinces also promote the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which includes a category aimed at international graduates. It was introduced earlier in 2017 to try and reverse aging populations and shrinking labour markets in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Provincial International Graduate Programs
In Quebec, the international graduate stream, which forms part of the Quebec Experience Program, is the only provincial program that offers permanent immigration to diploma and undergraduate degree holders, without a job offer.
The category imposes an advanced intermediate oral French requirement, but this stipulation is waived if half of the candidate’s studies are completed in Quebec and the qualification is recognized by the province. Candidates must either complete their studies in French or pass a French language test to transition to Canadian permanent residence.
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The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program runs a similar program without the need for a job offer, but it is aimed at Master’s and PhD graduates. The education requirement, therefore, is much more onerous, and the candidate must have English or French at Canadian Benchmark Level 7 or higher. The Ontario Master’s and PhD streams are open periodically throughout the year.
International students can already qualify to work in Canada after graduation by applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit. Here they can gain valuable Canadian work experience through a special work permit issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. The work experience could then be used to qualify for permanent residence, through one of the above avenues.
Post Graduation Work Permit Requirements
- Studied full time in Canada in a program of at least 8 months duration.
- Graduated from a public post-secondary institution, a private post-secondary institution, or a private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.
- Submit an application for a work permit within 90 days after receiving written confirmation of completing a study program.
- Received notification of eligibility to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Possess a valid Canada study visa or Canada study permit.
Citizenship Made Easier
Recent changes to Canadian citizenship requirements are also beneficial to international students, allowing them to count their time spent in Canada while studying towards a citizenship application. Study permit holders can count a half day for each full day spent in Canada towards a citizenship application, up to a maximum of a year.
At the same time the overall physical presence requirement was reduced from four years in six to three years in five, allowing international students to become Canadian citizens just two years after becoming a permanent resident.
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