Canada immigration: international students pathways to permanent residence
May 24, 2021
Canada is unique in its openness to international students and more so for its many programs that provide international students pathways to permanent residence after graduation. These and our world-class educational system, friendly and welcoming culture, French and English learning options, and favourable living costs are the reasons why Canada is ranked as the world’s third-leading destination of foreign students.
Canada is home to 21 of the world’s top 500 universities and 32 in the top 1,000. In 2020 Canada had over 650,000 international students.
Canada’s international student population was on an upward surge before the pandemic. It grew by 13 per cent in 2019 compared to the previous year, marking yet another year of double-digit growth. Some 404,000 international study permits took effect in 2019.
Applying for Canada study permit
You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.
Foreign students who have applied for and been accepted into a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may apply for a Canadian student visa to come to Canada for the program to which they have been accepted. To be eligible you must meet the following requirements:
Working eligibly while studying supports international students pathways to permanent residence. There is tremendous value to studying in Canada because international students can work while studying, and international graduates are eligible for open work permits and immigration programs that lead to permanent residence.
Full time international students with valid study permit can work up to 20 hours per week during the school year, and full-time on scheduled breaks.
Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
After graduation international students can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). These permits, which are valid for at least eight months and may last for up to three years, allow international graduates to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
International students have a number of options to stay in Canada after graduation. Having a Canadian degree plus Canadian work experience makes international graduates prime candidates for several immigration programs.
The Canadian government has in place several pathways for international graduates to become Canadian permanent residents through the Canada Express Entry System. In addition, many of Canada’s provincial immigration programs are also specifically targeted at international graduates. Each of Canada’s ten provinces has at least one immigration program offering a pathway to permanent residence for international graduates of Canadian learning institutions. Some programs are designed for specific levels of education like a Master’s or Ph.D.
Federal Express Entry System
Express Entry is the application system that Canada uses to manage skilled worker applications. It is the most popular way to immigrate to Canada.
The English-speaking International Graduates stream targets to land 40,000 international graduates in 2021. The quota of 40,000 was filled by applicants within 25 hours of opening on May 6. It is expected that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will re-open the stream as it processes and rejects hundreds if not thousands of the applications in the initial review. Given the popularity of the English-speaking International Graduate stream, it is also likely that the quota will be increased in order for IRCC to meet its overall 2021 immigration target level.
Provincial Immigration Programs
Canadian provinces do not have the ability to give out permanent residency status, but they can help an application along by issuing provincial nominations to candidates who have registered a profile in the federal Express Entry immigration system.
The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) enable Canadian provinces to offer international students pathways to permanent residence where such candidates’ qualifications meet their labour market needs.
Provincial nominations involve a two-step process. First, candidates apply for a provincial nomination from the province. Then, if you get the nomination you use it to support your application to the federal government for Canadian permanent residence.
Applying for a provincial nomination is not the same as applying for Canadian permanent residence. Rather a nomination effectively means the province is guaranteeing that the federal government will issue you an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence in one of its Express Entry draws.
A provincial nomination gives the candidate an additional 600 points toward their federal Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. The additional 600 CRS points virtually guarantee that the candidate will receive an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence in an Express Entry draw.
Atlantic Immigration Pilot
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in 2017 by the federal government to address labour shortages in the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. It was initially billed for three years but is now slated to become a permanent program in 2022.
International graduates from eligible institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick may be able to apply for the Atlantic International Graduate Program. This program allows graduates to apply for permanent residence without having any previous work experience.