Visa Crunch

Post-Graduation Work Permit In Canada Is A Thorny Path To Immigration

How far are you willing to travel to pursue the “Canadian dream”?

For many overseas students, the idea of receiving an excellent education and obtaining a post-graduation work permit in Canada is too attractive to pass up, but is it too good to be true? Because of the post-graduation work permit, the study-to-immigration pipeline is frequently cited as a strong selling feature for Canadian education (PGWP).

The permit is a one-time, non-renewable arrangement that can be given for a period ranging from eight months to three years, equal to an applicant’s total years of study in Canada. PGWP holders cannot extend their visa and must seek permanent residency if they wish to continue working and living in the nation, which is why the PGWP is frequently viewed as a significant doorway to immigration. They essentially become undocumented if they are unable to enter the PR pool once their authorization expires.

The most likely option is to obtain another study visa, but this comes with its own set of restrictions: they may only work 20 hours per week, and their wages are insufficient to support rising living costs. Many international students, trapped by the legality of their position, resort to “unskilled” or under-the-table occupations that not only subject them to labour exploitation but also do not count towards PR criteria.

According to student activists, the system disadvantages international students and exposes them to increased precarity in an environment where their rights are not effectively protected. The non-renewable nature of PGWPs, according to Syed Hussan of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), is a “setup for disaster.”

“None of the jobs the students get to do in warehouses, in construction, retail, or gigs, count towards the PR requirements,” Hussan was quoted saying during a recent virtual conference held by the organisation, where he remarked that these were “celebrated jobs” during Covid-19. 

Hussan’s remarks are unsurprising. The Walrus published an exposé last year showing the seedier side of foreign higher education recruitment in Canada, including rising evidence of labour exploitation involving abroad students attracted by false promises from agents in their home country.

The inability of systemic action by Canadian universities and colleges to address the issue adds to the burden for international students who have sacrificed time and money to have a chance at a better life in Canada.

Overseas students will need to choose a degree programme that will earn them enough points through the Express Entry programme, an economic class immigration track, to improve their chances of immigration once their PGWP expires. A study published on January 18 by Statistics Canada revealed encouraging news for prospective PR applicants: more students received PGWPs between 2008 and 2018, with annual median income increasing by more than 13 times throughout the decade.

The optimistic figures cannot overshadow the difficulties of obtaining a work visa in Canada in the first place, as well as the costs that overseas students incur over time. They pay much higher tuition rates than domestic students, and their Canadian experience is plagued with uncertainty and distress as inflation climbs. When the strains of a pandemic are added, their position can quickly become overwhelming.

Savitri Sinanan, a Trinidadian international student who has spent over $100,000 Canadian dollars on tuition and study permit renewals, has been rejected three times by the country’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which would qualify her for permanent residency.

Sinanan, a high-achieving student, has not been able to find a high-wage career and has been subjected to employer abuse, exploitation, and discrimination in low-wage jobs. She noted that if she had realised the unpleasant truth of Canada’s student-to-PR reality, she would not have left her home country.

Sinanan, a high-achieving student, has not been able to find a high-wage career and has been subjected to employer abuse, exploitation, and discrimination in low-wage jobs. She noted that if she had realised the unpleasant truth of Canada’s student-to-PR reality, she would not have left her home country.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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Abhishek Shah

Abhishek Shah

I'm a final-year management student at NMIMS, Mumbai.

The power of words and their ability to affect others captivates me that's where my love for writing comes from. Content writing welcomes me with my own mind and gives wings to my thoughts. I'll today and forever love gaining insight by reading and writing and that's the reason I am called the father of scriptwriting in my circle.

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