Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has allowed international students to count time spent studying online toward the length of a post-graduate work permit (PGWP). Though initially set to end December 31, 2021, the government has recently extended this policy to August 31, 2022.
That means all time spent studying online from outside Canada between March 2020 and August 31, 2022, will count toward the length of a post-graduate work permit.
The duration of a post-graduate work permit depends on the length of your studies and can be issued for up to three years. Any time spent studying before you have applied for a study permit will not be considered toward the duration of the work permit. Time spent studying online outside of Canada after August 31, 2022, will also not be considered.
Students that are completing two Canadian study programs can also complete all studies online if the programs as long as they were ongoing or started between March 2020 and Summer 2022.
This announcement comes as Canada is named the most popular country in the world for international students.
According to an IDP Connect fall poll, which surveyed over 3600 students from 55 countries, nearly 40% of international students ranked Canada as their first choice for post-secondary education. The US and UK followed behind at 17% and Australia at 16%.
The study found that students were mainly motivated by career opportunities in their study destination, something that has become increasingly accessible to international students in Canada. The Canadian government views international students as prime candidates for immigration and has introduced various measures to ease the transition from student to worker, and eventually permanent resident. Canada allows study permit holders to work part-time during their studies and offers an open work permit to those who want to remain in Canada after graduation.
“These latest results reinforce students’ desire to gain an overseas qualification and the rich cultural and educational benefits that come with doing so. However, students want to be clear about the value and the outcomes they will gain. The countries and institutions that can offer and communicate clear pathways to employment or migration will be most popular as the world continues to re-open from the pandemic,” said Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect.
In February 2021, the Canadian government announced a temporary immigration pathway, which allowed many international graduates working in the country to apply for permanent residency. At the time, the Canadian government clearly stated their intention to retain international students, “Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here,” (Former immigration minister Marco Mendicino).
A report from Statistics Canada revealed that six in 10 international students that were employment during or after their period of study became permanent residents within 10 years of obtaining their study permit.
Since the Liberal government was first elected in 2015, Canada’s international student number nearly doubled. Canada has one of the highest ratios of foreign students in the world at 20 percent. In contrast, the ratio of foreign students in the US is just 7 percent.
While COVID-19 made many countries like Australia and the U.S. bring in more rules for international students, Canada provided flexibility. During the pandemic, Canada offered study permit holders to apply for social assistance under the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Many provinces also offer almost-free health coverage to international students.
The Canadian government has demonstrated this once again by extending the online study eligibility period for post-graduate work permit applicants. Post-graduate work permits allow international students to work anywhere in Canada, gaining valuable work experience that can help them eventually settle permanently in the country.
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