PR Pathways for International Students

Whether staying in Canada was always the plan, or if they simply fell in love with the country, international students often end up settling permanently in Canada. This blog entry covers some of the most popular immigration pathways from international student to permanent resident. 

Post-Graduation Work Permit and Canadian Experience Class

A common pathway for full-time students graduating from a program lasting eight (8) months or longer starts by applying for a PGWP, or post-graduation work permit. This is an open permit, which means a job offer is not required to apply and the permit is not tied to a specific employer. The permit lasts anywhere from eight (8) months to three (3) years, depending on the length of the program. During this time, graduates are eligible to work unlimited hours. The work experience obtained through this permit can then be leveraged to apply for Express Entry under the Canadian Experience Class program. This permanent residency program is available to people with at least one (1) year of full-time work experience or two (2) years of part-time work, provided they meet the English or French language requirements and their job falls under certain categories within the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC). Namely, the job must fall under Skill Type 0 or Skill Levels A or B. Most managerial, technical and skilled jobs qualify, such as IT professionals, chefs, electricians and business managers. Essentially, most jobs that require a set of skills obtained from college or university education will be classified under one of the required NOC skill groups. An applicant under Express Entry will be assigned points according to the program’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). This ranking system will take into consideration, amongst other factors, an applicant’s (and, if applicable, their spouse’s) age, language skills, education and work experience, in and outside of Canada. The government of Canada will then invite the highest-ranking candidates to apply for permanent residency by issuing what’s called an Invitation to Apply (ITA) through Express Entry draws. Information about the latest draws, including the CRS score of the lowest-ranked candidate invited can be found here.

Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trades Programs

These Express Entry streams are meant for skilled foreign workers, even those with no work experience or education obtained in Canada. Completing a post-secondary program in Canada, however, provides prospective applicants with a points advantage in the ranking system. Each program has different requirements:

Federal Skilled Worker

Candidates may qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program if they have one (1) year of full-time or two (2) years of part-time work experience abroad in an eligible occupation within the last ten (10) years.

Federal Skilled Worker

This program requires two (2) years of full-time experience, or the equivalent combination of part-time work. This must have taken place within the last five (5) years. Additionally, the candidate must either have a valid job offer for full-time work in an eligible skilled trade occupation or a certificate of qualification for an eligible skilled trade issued by a Canadian authority. 

The benefit of this pathway is that eligible persons may leverage their foreign work experience and the bonus points from having earned a Canadian educational credential to become permanent residents soon after graduating, without the need to apply for a work permit and accumulate Canadian work experience.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

While the options above are available throughout the country, each of Canada’s provinces and territories have their own programs to nominate candidates for permanent residency. There is a variety of PNPs aimed at international graduates from all levels of post-secondary education. For more information about PNPs targeting international students, keep an eye out for our next blog titled “PNPs for International Students”. 

For more information on which immigration option is best for you and your business, or for assistance designing your longer-term immigration strategy, reach out to me directly through my Contact Page.  We can set up a consultation to find the immigration option that works best for your specific needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post were accurate at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information provided above. This blog post is not updated on a regular basis.

Co-written by Lucas Wynheart and Rebecca Tripp

Originally posted on April 8, 2022

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