Immigration consultants and educationalists are urging Ottawa to develop and improve the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), as a recent study shows that the number of overseas students joining the Canadian labor market has increased significantly.
The PGWPP permits international students who have graduated from qualifying Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to apply for an open work permit, which can assist them to qualify for permanent residency in Canada.
According to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), over 126,000 post-graduation work permits were awarded between January and November of 2021. Statistics Canada discovered that nearly three-quarters of all PGWPP holders become permanent residents within five years, according to a new study on the scope of international students’ participation in the labor market through the PGWPP.
According to the agency, the number of new post-graduation work permit holders has grown, with the greatest growth occurring among those from India and those planning to work in Ontario. Alongside India, the top five source nations for PGWP holders were China, France, South Korea, and Brazil. The overwhelming majority of PGWP holders wanted to work in Ontario, with British Columbia and Quebec following close behind.
International students, through their participation in the PGWPP and subsequent transition to permanent residence, have supplied a rising source of labor for the Canadian labor market that extends far beyond their years of study. Currently, the IRCC only enables students from public universities and institutions that award private degrees to qualify for Post Graduate Work Permits.
Considering the program’s appeal and Canada’s rising labor shortage, the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) is advocating for its expansion.
“Thousands of additional international students would study at private career colleges every year and help resolve Canada’s labor shortages if Ottawa made these students eligible for the Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP),” reads an article on immigration.ca referencing NACC chair, George Hood.
The PGWPP, according to veteran international education specialist Patrick Dang, who advises the Indo-Canada Education Council, is a huge success for the economy and international students. It has shown to be a real opportunity for Canada to train students to Canadian job requirements, resulting in an ideal workforce with applicable skills and a pathway to residency.
According to Dang, the low number of seats available through public post-secondary institutions diminishes the potential improvements Canada might make on a bigger scale to address the severe labor shortfall that exists now. As per Dang, who is also the president of the Seymour Education & Learning Centres (SELC) in Vancouver, Canada’s crucial labor shortage is well on its way to becoming a major stumbling block in the post-pandemic era. It is a well-known truth that Canada has at least one million unfilled jobs, and this figure is expected to rise substantially over the next seven years.
“These foundational programs prepare students in their homelands to succeed on their journey to Canadian employment via the PGWPP, and later permanent residency,” he said.
According to him, SELC is now striving to provide foundational programs in nations such as Sri Lanka and South Korea for students planning to pursue degrees at Canadian authorized educational institutions.
As per IRCC, there are no present plans to include overseas students at private and career colleges. Following a record year for study permits in 2019, IRCC stated today that it will raise its productivity by 32% in 2021 by finalizing over 560,000 study permit applications. Additionally, the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA) has issued a warning about a new regulation requiring PGWP candidates to show paperwork for any leaves of absence they may have taken while studying at their academic institution.
“Consider a student experiencing mental health issues and dropping their semester’s courses rather than having failures in their transcript. This student would be considered to have taken an unauthorized leave,” Canadian immigration lawyer, Ronalee Carey, explains in a guest article posted on CILA’s website.
The piece, which calls on the government to address the issue, urges IRCC to require that Canadian post-secondary institutions that offer programs to international students have a specific policy addressing approved leaves.
“Until they do so, they should not be denying PGWPs to students who do not have the documentation from their DLIs,” reads the article.
“DLIs must not wait for IRCC to force them to act. They should immediately create processes for students to request authorized leaves and create standardized documents to meet the new requirements.”