Many of Canada’s permanent residency immigration programs privilege applicants who have a connection to Canada, either with ties to a specific province, Canadian work experience, or a Canadian educational credential. Canadian international students benefit from some or all of these advantages if they choose to pursue immigration to Canada permanently. Please note that international students in Canada should ensure they meet the conditions of their study permit throughout their stay. If a student violates the terms of their study permit, this could jeopardize future immigration applications.
Many of Canada’s immigration programs require a certain amount of skilled work experience, which may place international students at a disadvantage. However, the majority of international student graduates in Canada are eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit which authorizes them to work in Canada and gain this valuable work experience.
There are many immigration programs available to international students. While each program operates differently and has requirements beyond completing Canadian studies, the programs listed below may provide international student graduates with accelerated pathways to becoming Canadian permanent residents:
Please note that many of the programs are operated through Canada’s Express Entry system, the federal system for managing permanent resident applications.
Operated through the Express Entry immigration system, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is one of the fastest ways to obtain Canadian permanent residence. While there are a range of eligibility factors for this program, including age, language proficiency, and level of education, a distinguishing requirement is that applicants prove they have at least 12-months of continuous, full-time, skilled work experience in Canada within the previous three years, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience. Once an international student obtains this level of work experience, CEC may become a great immigration option!
One condition of CEC is that work experience gained during a period of full-time study does not count towards the 12-month requirement, so international students cannot count work experience gained during their study program. However, once an international student graduates, they will likely become eligible for a post-graduation work permit, which will allow them to gain the work experience needed to qualify for CEC.
Operated through the Express Entry immigration system, the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program may be an option for some international student graduates. Unlike the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), FSW does not require a person to have Canadian work experience, so this is a good option for international student graduates who already gained skilled work experience abroad.
The FSW program is a merit-based immigration program which uses a points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score to automatically rank candidates against one another, only inviting those candidates with the most competitive profiles to apply for permanent residence. If an international student meets the eligibility requirements and is highly competitive within the CRS scoring system, FSW can be a great pathway to becoming a permanent resident.
It should be noted that the FSW program does require that applicants prove they have a minimum of 12-months of full-time, continuous, skilled work experience, completed in any country, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience. For international students who have never entered the workforce, this program will not be an option.
Each of Canada’s provinces and territories operate their own immigration programs, called Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Every PNP works differently, since they are designed to meet the needs of that specific province or territory. Many PNPs give preference to applicants who have some kind of connection to the province, including previous study completed within the province and work experience gained in the province. Depending on the province where an international student completed their program of study, they may be eligible to apply for a PNP within that province.
The province of Quebec operates its own immigration system with requirements and procedures different from the rest of the country. However, similar to the rest of Canada, Quebec’s immigration programs are designed in such a way that international students do have advantages when applying for permanent residence. Quebec’s two main permanent residence programs have streams designed for international students in Quebec:
A post-graduation work permit is not a direct permanent residence program. However, it does allow most international students who has graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) to remain in Canada after their period of study and work with any employer in Canada. This experience can help a person to qualify for Canadian permanent residence, usually through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or an employer-driven Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Please note that not all programs offered at DLIs are eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
If you want to immigrate to Canada permanently, coming as an international student is a practical first step on your journey. From choosing a school, to applying for a study permit, Canadim’s International Student Program is here to help you keep it simple!
Our unique International Student Program will support you through every step of the process to becoming an international student in Canada and advise on pathways for transforming a Canadian education into Canadian permanent residence. With so many programs and possibilities for studies in Canada, it can be confusing to find the best fit for you. At Canadim, your dedicated Educational Counsellor will get to know your needs, your goals, and your dreams in Canada, ensuring that we can find the best fit for you!
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