The announcement of a new open work permit in Canada on April 22, 2022 came as a relief to many foreign graduates in Canada with a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). PGWP holders whose permits expire between January 31 and December 31 this year will be eligible for an 18-month extension, allowing them to continue working legally in Canada, according to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). While the news was a significant step forward for foreign Canadian graduates who have contributed to the local economy, the new directive excludes many others who do not fall within the expiration timeline. They must now consider leaving if they are unable to obtain a different permit to remain and work in Canada.
Tara Emami, an Iranian graduate of the University of Toronto, is one of those who would be ineligible for the open work permit because her PGWP expires in December 2021. “This isn’t right. We are people, too; we were just unlucky enough to have our work permits expire in December. In the PGWP extensions, luck should not be a factor. “Is it our fault?” “Despite the fact that we have done nothing wrong, we are ineligible for the previous PGWP extension, this one, and by the time the Express Entry draws resume, it will be too late for us.” I can’t sleep well at night, and I can’t think about the future. “We urgently need permanent resident status for all of us,” Emami was quoted as saying in a press release by the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), an organisation that advocates for international students and migrant workers. Although PGWPs are only valid for one year, they were extended in 2021 to graduates with expired work permits until November 21, 2021.
The policy was only in effect from January 27, 2021 to July 27, 2021. “It’s clearly a government oversight,” Belarussian student Mikhita Arlou, whose PGWP expired on December 5 last year, told New Canadian Media. “There is a labour shortage, my employer requires my services, and Canada requires my taxes as well.” If my employer hires another person, it will require more resources and time that will be wasted. This exclusion benefits no one.” Arlou is afraid of returning to a war-torn country because half of his family lives there. “Half of my family lives in Ukraine, and one of my cousins was killed in the war while serving in the military.” “How am I supposed to go back there now?” he asks.
This year, approximately 95,000 PGWPs will expire between January 31 and December 2022, according to an IRCC statement. Many former students with expiring work permits have already transitioned to permanent residence, applied for permanent residence, or successfully applied for a different type of work permit.
According to the statement, up to 50,000 applicants may benefit from this temporary measure. “This is a small step in the right direction, but too many people continue to be denied rights; we need permanent resident status for everyone right now, especially those in low-wage jobs,” said Sarom Rho, Migrant Students United coordinator, in a press release from MWAC. “We need a permanent post-graduate work permit, not a one-time programme, and the current announcement must include those who have been left out.”
“Migrants are tired of one-time, temporary pathways; a fair society means equal rights and that means permanent resident status for all,” said Syed Hussan, Executive Director of MWAC. IRCC’s announcement also mentioned the re-opening of the Express Entry programme, a popular immigration pathway for many skilled economic migrants, in July 2022. Due to massive backlogs in immigration applications, the programme has been on hold since September 2021. Because PGWPs are typically non-renewable, granting extensions within specific time frames leaves far too many foreign Canadian graduates in immigration limbo.
The Express Entry pause has had an impact on experienced PGWP holders, who typically have a good chance of obtaining PR status. Another PGWP holder, Elif Arat, was eligible for a PR through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) on September 30, 2021. Despite her eligibility, her family did not receive an invitation because IRCC ceased CEC draws on September 14.
“We were so excited and couldn’t sleep after seven months of silence when Mr. Fraser was supposed to announce a new policy about PGWP extension on April 22, 2022, but unfortunately, because our work permit expired in December 2021, we don’t qualify for an extension,” said New Canadian Media.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.