Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has stated that Canada would like to provide a new path to permanent residency for international students.
The educational technology startup, situated in Ontario, was created in 2015 by Canadian immigrants and spoke with Fraser earlier this month. During that interview, the immigration minister emphasised the importance of immigration and international students’ contributions to the Canadian economy.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple,” said Fraser in an online interview. “We don’t just want you to study here. We’re hoping to create pathways that allow you to stay here and make a lasting contribution beyond your academic career.”
In French, the immigration minister emphasised that Ottawa must continue to explore new ways to encourage international students to stay in Canada once they graduate.
“In 2021 alone, we welcomed more than 300,000 international students across Canada. That’s nearly double the number of students from the year before and it’s actually higher than pre-pandemic levels,” said Fraser. “We believe this is going to be a growth opportunity going forward as well.”
During the pandemic, Ottawa implemented a number of measures to assist international students. Last year, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) added flexibility to its Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) programme, allowing international students to complete 100% of their Canadian programmes online and still be eligible to work in Canada after graduation. However, there are still stumbling blocks that many international students confront while attempting to relocate to Canada.
Among them is the requirement for international students to convince Canadian immigration officials that they intend to return to their home countries after graduation, which is required in order to obtain a study permit while also taking the necessary steps to obtain work permits and gain work experience in order to stay in Canada after graduation.
With the large number of international students that come to Canada each year, Fraser ruled out enabling all international students to stay permanently since it would take away seats for foreign nationals to come to Canada through other programmes. The immigration minister is charged in his mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with creating avenues to permanent status for temporary foreign workers and international students.
“We’re doing some of the policy work now. It’ll take us a little bit of time,” said Fraser. “It’ll allow people to better plan their succession to come here to study and then after they’re done to transition to permanent residency.”
As per the immigration minister, policy work is being completed this year, and a permanent pathway for overseas students will be implemented as soon as it is ready. According to IRCC data, 621,565 study permits were issued last year, an increase of about 17.7 per cent over the 528,190 issued in 2020.
The rise in research permissions last year puts Canada just 2.6 percentage points away from breaking the record of 638,280 study licences given in 2019, the final full year before the pandemic. Furthermore, Canada wishes to do even more to expedite the processing of study permits.
“We’re going to be putting additional resources to get the study permit processing times back to our service standard this year in hopes that we can get as many students here on the schedule they need to complete their academic programs,” vowed Fraser earlier this year.
Ottawa is implementing initiatives to speed up application processing, including the hiring of 500 more processing employees and the digitization of applications. With the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine war in late February, Canada has also agreed to grant free study permits to any Ukrainians living in Canada for up to three years.
International students can enter Canada with a Study Permit and subsequently apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. This then puts them in a position to apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry programme.
These students must demonstrate the following in order to be eligible to study in Canada:
- have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada;
- have enough money to pay for their tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation;
- are law-abiding citizens with no criminal records;
- are in good health and willing to complete a medical examination, and;
- can satisfy an immigration officer that they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stays
Overseas students can work in Canada under the following categories after receiving a study permit:
- on-campus without a work permit;
- off-campus with a work permit;
- in co-op and internship programs, where work experience is part of the curriculum, with a work permit
A foreign student may apply for a work permit under the PGWP after graduation. The work permit may be issued for the duration of the study programme, up to a maximum of three years, under this programme. The important job experience earned while working in Canada under a Post-Graduation Work Permit can be used to apply for permanent residence through the Canada Express Entry system.
Applicants for immigration are assigned points based on the following factors under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) implemented by Express Entry system programmes:
- Work experience;
- Language ability;
- Language ability and education of the applicant’s spouse or common-law partner;
- Possession of a job offer supported by a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment;
- Possession of a provincial government nomination for permanent residence, and;
- Certain combinations of language skills, education, and work experience result in a higher chance of the applicant becoming employed (skill transferability).
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