Last Updated on April 19, 2018
April 16, 2018 – The number of international students holding Canada Study Permit has almost doubled since 2011, according to the latest federal government figures.
At the end of 2017, there were 494,525 international students holding Canada Study Permits, up from 248,585 six years previously.
The figures show how important international students have become to the schools, colleges and universities, and to the broader Canadian economy.
And under the current Liberal government, the numbers are only set to rise, as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada aims to attract more students and encourage them to stay after graduation.
Source: Government of Canada
The nationalities of Study Permit holders are also revealing, with Chinese students the most prevalent, although not by as much as may have been expected. There were just over 140,000 Chinese Study Permit holders in Canada as of December 31, 2017, compared with nearly 125,000 students with Indian citizenship.
The fastest-growing cohort of students came from Vietnam, with an 89 per cent increase in 2017 to just over 14,000 Study Permit holders. This represents 3 per cent of the total, compared with 28 per cent for Chinese students and 25 per cent for Indians.
France, meanwhile, stands out as the only non-Asian country to feature in the top five citizenships of Canada Study Permit holders.
The overall figure of 494,525 Study Permit holders is itself up 20 per cent on 2016, when just over 410,000 international students held Study Permits at the end of the year.
Source: Government of Canada
A recent survey found Canada is fast catching the U.S. and U.K. among the world’s most popular destinations for international students.
The 2018 edition of the QS Applicant Survey shows Canada could be about to overtake the U.K. and become the second most popular study destination behind the U.S.
Experts see the change as a reaction to political shifts in both countries. While the U.S. is pursuing anti-immigrant policies under Donald Trump, the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union, with a central issue being freedom of movement.
Meanwhile, Canada is focused on increasing immigration, with encouraging international graduates to stay and build their careers here a central policy of the federal Liberal government.
International Students: Preferred Study Destinations
Source: QS Applicant Survey 2018
The QS Application Survey says that although Canada remains third overall, it beats both the U.S. and the U.K. in attracting students from specific regions.
“Canada remains the third most-popular study destination, and in many cases, outperforms the UK and the US when target destinations are broken down by country, especially in the Middle East region,” the report says.
U.S. Government data shows a sharp drop of 17 per cent in the number of study permits issued to students from overseas in the year to September 30, 2017.
At the same time, Canadian universities have seen nearly an 11 per cent increase in their international student numbers, suggesting Canada is attracting at least some of those put off the U.S. by the Trump administration.
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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 has made Canada one of the more attractive countries in the world for foreign students considering their study options. Figures from Universities Canada show a 10.7 per cent increase in the number of international students, country-wide.
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.
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