New Canadian Public Immigration Policy for International Students

In Canada, we value our international students very much. Aside from contributing over $21 billion to our economy every year, they bring youth, diversity, and vitality to the communities across the country in which they live and study. Then they graduate, and some, if not most, find lucrative employment and want to continue living in Canada.   

This has always been possible through a number of Canadian immigration programs, most notably the Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). However, 2020 saw a great number of students’ intentions to start working and gain experience in Canada adversely affected by the global pandemic, and thus a solution was proposed. 

In January this year the honorable Marco Mendicino, Canadian minister of immigration, unveiled the new Canadian public immigration policy for international students. Former students who hold or held a PGWP will be able to apply for an open work permit.

Working in Canada After You Graduate

International Graduates in Canada at Work

Foreign graduates from Canadian universities and colleges with an expired or expiring PGWP have the unique opportunity to apply for a new open work permit. The work permits will be valid for 18 months, allowing former international students to remain in Canada, secure employment, and the work experience necessary to become permanent residents. 

Unlike our neighbours to the south, the Canadian government continues to make significant efforts to encourage international students to settle permanently in Canada. Our workforce is aging out and with a population growth rate that has not been able to match the expansion of the economy, there are a lot of opportunities for educated and skilled foreigners to create a prosperous future here.

Fifty years ago, there were 6.6 people active in the workforce for every retiree in Canada. Currently, there are 3 working Canadians or temporary residents for every retired Canadian. Unless something is done about this now, by 2035 that number will be down to 2. You can see why it is a priority to revitalize the Canadian workforce, or the youth may have to carry the cost of the elderly in 15 to 20 years.

International graduates help create jobs and fill labour shortages allowing our businesses to thrive. Some even bring prior employment experience and skills as they make use of prestigious Canadian universities to take further steps in their higher education journey, such as Masters or PhD. If English or French isn’t their first language, their skills are significantly strengthened during the course of their studies, positioning them perfectly to apply for permanent resident status.

Applications for open work permits will be open until 27 July 2021 to foreign graduates.

More than 58,000 international graduates successfully became Canadian permanent residents in 2019.

Study in Canada PGWP Infographic

The Post Graduate Work Permit

To be eligible for a study permit, you have to be accepted to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). These are universities and colleges authorized by the Canadian government to accept foreign students. Many, but not all of the DLI’s offer courses that upon graduation, make the international students eligible to apply for a PGWP.

The duration of the PGWP is directly correlated with the duration of your studies:

  • If your program was for less than 8 months, you aren’t eligible for a PGWP.
  • If your program was longer than 8 months, but less than 2 years your permit will be for the same length of time as you program. For example, if your program was 18 months, you will be granted an 18-month PGWP.
  • If your program was longer than 2 years, you will be granted a 3-year PGWP.
  • If you completed more than one program, the length of the programs may be combined to determine the length of your PGWP, if all the programs are eligible and longer than 8 months.

What To Do If You Aren’t Eligible For a PGWP

There are a number of excellent schools that are simply not a part of the PGWP program, such as Evergreen College. No university or college in Canada provides you with a work permit after graduation, it is your responsibility to get one before you start working. However, there is no reason to avoid any of these institutions. As you near graduation (or likely long before) you will begin looking for opportunities and quite possibly even have recruiters offer you positions. Once you have accepted a job offer, the process is relatively simple. Depending on your occupation type you will apply for and obtain either an open work permit or an employer-specific work permit. It will most likely be the latter, as you will use your job offer and this will be printed on your work permit.   

An open work permit is similar to a PGWP in that you can change employers so long as your work permit is valid, as long as it is in the same field or profession.

Why Should I Study In Canada?

Student in Canada-Canadian Immigration

Permanent residency is not the only reason to study in Canada. Apart from a world class education, student life in Canada is unlike anywhere else in the world. You are free to pursue the person you always wanted to be. Because of our progressive culture, no one is held back from expressing their ideas or themselves. The process of getting accepted and securing a study permit is fairly straightforward, but if you are uncertain or intimidated, enlisting the help of a Regulated Canadain Immigration Consultant (RCIC) can take you a long way. All the way actually.

It is more expensive for international students to study in Canada than for Canadian citizens, but compared to the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, it is much more affordable. In fact, it is up to 33% cheaper for an international student to live and study in Canada than the countries mentioned above.

But keep in mind with the salaries university and college graduates are paid in Canada, it is a worthy investment, and if you intend to create a life in Canada, your future generations will reap all the benefits of being Canadian citizens. There are also numerous scholarship opportunities, and you are also allowed to work part-time to help cover your costs.

What Steps Should I Take To Start The Process

The first and most important thing to do is ensure you are eligible to study in Canada, and ensure you are eligible to study the course you, at the university or college you intend to. Again, an RCIC can help with this. Once you have your letter of acceptance, the most important factors are having a valid passport and proof you will be able to pay for your education. It goes without saying that if you do your part, and graduate from your course, we want you to stay on, to live and work in Canada. The new Canadian public immigration policy for international students is evidence of this.

Whether you simply want a world-class Canadian education and student experience, or you want to use your Canadian education as the foundation to creating a future here, is entirely up to you. Either way, you won’t regret studying in Canada.