Visa Crunch

The road to Permanent Residency (PR) for International students and graduates

If you are a foreign student or a graduate in Canada,  you may speak and understand English or French at a high level, and you have already shown that you are capable of starting life in Canada. For these reasons, Canada wants you to relocate permanently. Here’s a look at all the options for permanent residence in Canada for foreign students and graduates, from government programs to provincial programs to family support. 

Express Entry : Permanent residency in Canada for foreign students and graduates 

You may have heard of Express Entry, Canada’s leading economic migration program. Since the launch of Express Entry in 2015, the program has been used to provide specific benefits to students from graduate countries in Canada. The biggest change is the addition of 30 points in the CRS rating to those who completed Canadian education after high school. Before you can qualify for an invitation, however, you must qualify for any three co-operative economic migration programs and enter the Express Entry pool, where you are awarded points under the Comprehensive Program (CRS). The government then invites top candidates to apply, with entry draws that usually occur every few weeks. You then have 60 days to complete the application, with the government aiming to complete the process within six months.  

Let’s take a look at those programs managed under Express Entry in more detail. 

Canadian Experience Class 

The Canadian Experience Class is a standard route to permanent residence in Canada for foreign students and graduates. The Express Entry draw allows those who have worked in the country for at least one year to relocate permanently. 

Federal Skilled Worker Class 

Another way to enter the Express Entry pool as a federal skilled worker. This could be your route if you haven’t been able to complete a year of skilled work in Canada. There is also a third Express Entry program, the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) for eligible applicants. 

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) 

Canada’s provinces also want international students and graduates to stay. If Express Entry is not an option for you now or in the near future, you should consider the PNPs. Some provinces may allow you to apply even if you graduated in another province. 

Let’s look at all of the different streams through which Canadian provinces invite international applicants through the PNP.  


  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)  
    • International student stream 
    • International Master’s stream 
    • International PhD stream 

British Columbia (BC) 

  • BC PNP  
    • BC Express Entry: international graduate category 
    • BC Skills Immigration: international graduate category 
    • BC Express Entry: international post-graduate category 
    • BC Skills Immigration: international post-graduate category 


  • Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP)  
    • Alberta Opportunity stream 


  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)  
    • International Education stream 


  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)  
    • Saskatchewan Experience stream 

Nova Scotia 

  • Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) 
    • Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry stream 
    • Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry stream 
    • NSNP International Graduate Entrepreneur stream 

Prince Edward Island (PEI)  

  • PEI PNP 
    • International Graduate stream 

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