Last Updated on March 4, 2019
February 15, 2019 – The number of Study Permit holders in Canada swelled to well over half a million in 2018, government figures show.
On December 31, 2018, there were 572,415 Study Permit holders here, a 16 per cent rise on the 492,425 recorded in 2018.
The figures cover students from high schools, colleges and universities, in Canada benefitting from its world class education system.
Study Permit numbers have increased 180 per cent in the last decade, as successive governments have recognized the benefit to the Canadian economy of increasing international student levels.
International students are an important source of revenue for Canada’s schools, paying significantly higher tuition fees than their Canadian counterparts.
With Canadian education much cheaper than across the border in the U.S., Canada’s best universities are often seen as a pathway to a world class education without the dollar outlay required south of the border.
Students from India and China dominate the international student landscape, accounting for 315,610, or 55 per cent, of the total Study Permit holders in Canada.
The political climate in the U.S. is also pushing many would-be international students towards Canada as a study-abroad option.
Candidates who would previously only have considered America are turning their attention north because of the anti-immigration stance taken by Donald Trump’s government.
As the U.S. makes it more difficult to move there, and life more difficult for immigration already in the country, Canada is doing the opposite, particularly for international students.
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.
Canadian University International Student Cohort, 2017 Increase
|Province||2017 Increase (%)|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||10.5|
|Prince Edward Island||12.8|
Figures: Universities Canada
Ottawa announced in October 2018 that it will accept more than 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.
Since coming to power in fall 2015, the Liberal government has attempted to make it easier for international students to gain permanent residence.
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 met if 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 or pass certain recognized courses to transition to Canadian permanent residence.
Video: How International Students Can Immigrate to Canada
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 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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