Visa Crunch

The change in the work permit policy is excellent news for overseas students and Canadian employers.

Canadian employers also benefit tremendously from PGWPs, in addition to the importance to overseas students.

In addition to the high quality of life and a world-class education system, Canada gives another significant advantage to overseas students access Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after graduation.

The PGWP, a valuable advantage in gaining permanent resident (PR) status in Canada, is an open work permit that can be used to acquire relevant work experience.

Professional experience in Canada is also a crucial factor in helping applicants to apply effectively for various immigration programs, namely Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Express Entry is the main immigration route to PR for Canada and it operates on a point-based framework that takes capital investment considerations into account. In Canada, job experience provides significant additional points for their Extensive Ranking System (CRS) for those using this path, providing a competitive advantage compared to other potential candidates in the process.

Those with a certificate and Canadian employment status would also have a better chance of succeeding when applying under the PNPs or the Quebec Experience Program if they have studied in Quebec (or PEQ).

Beyond its significance to foreign students, Canadian employers still profit greatly from PGWPs. Usually, Canadian companies have to go through a long and expensive procedure known as a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to recruit a foreign citizen, which is paperwork they have to send to confirm that they have attempted to hire a Canadian but haven’t been able to do so.

However, the procedure is not necessary for people with an open work permit, such as holders of PGWP. Therefore, holders of the Open Work Permit also offer Canadian employers the chance to attract much-needed international talent without the pressures and challenges normally associated with this method.

Although the employer does not entail much legwork for the initial phase of recruiting someone on a PGWP, the same cannot be said if the employer would want the foreign national to continue working past the expiry date of the PGWP. There is a short period of work permits and this is where the concern with the PGWP always lies.

A PGWP cannot be expanded in the vast majority of instances, and an appeal for an LMIA should be presented and accepted before the worker can look for a job, employer-specific, work permit.

It is about to change, though. The Canadian government proposed a new policy on January 8, 2021, which will enable former international students with an expired or expiring PGWP to switch to a new open work permit.

Specifically, the new policy would enable those who meet the following requirements to apply for an open work permit of 18 months:

  • A PGWP has expired within 4 months or less of the date of submission or has expired after or on 30 January 2020.
  • Being in Canada 
  • Have a legitimate temporary status or request for your status to be restored.

The process for applications is scheduled to open on 27 January and is planned to continue till 27 July 2021.

This policy shift would allow many Canadian employers who recruit foreign nationals on a PGWP to proceed to use it without having to go through the long and expensive process that has usually been required in the past.

For several Canadian employers who benefit from international talent, as a consequence of Canadian immigration restrictions, this means that they would not need to sacrifice the efficiency of their labor force. It will help greatly for many Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy as a whole to be able to hold on to the staff they need, regardless of ethnicity or immigration status.

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