Canadian Immigration News

How International Students Can Immigrate to Canada

4.75 minute read
"A majority of international students decide to immigrate to Canada eventually after the completion of their study programs. To facilitate this transition, many immigration programs at federal and provincial levels offer a pathway for international graduates to obtain Canadian permanent residence."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Dec 5, 2021
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A majority of international students decide to immigrate to Canada eventually after the completion of their study programs. To facilitate this transition, many immigration programs at federal and provincial levels offer a pathway for international graduates to obtain Canadian permanent residence. 

International students fulfill all the major requirements for permanent residence in Canada. They have a connection to Canada either through ties with a specific province or through Canadian work experience or educational credentials. As long as an international student has met all the conditions of their Study Permit, they shouldn’t face any problems in applying for permanent residence. 

How Can International Students Immigrate to Canada?

Most Canadian immigration programs require applicants to have a certain level of skilled work experience. International students can obtain Canadian work experience by applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) within 90 days of completing their study program. The PGWP is an open work permit that allows recent international graduates to work with any employer in Canada. 

Once you have the required work experience, there are many immigration programs you can apply for. However, it is always best to choose the best immigration program based on the following factors:

  • Your place of residence in Canada
  • Your intended place of residence in Canada
  • Your highest level of education
  • Your work experience
  • The type of work experience you have
  • Your ability to demonstrate language proficiency in English or French
  • The processing time for different immigration programs and the required application fee

What Immigration Programs Are Available for International Students?

International student graduates may be eligible for the following immigration program:

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP): 

While a PGWP is not a direct route to permanent residence, it does allow international graduates to obtain valuable Canadian work experience. One year's worth of work experience in Canada will make you eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. 

The CEC program is managed by the federal Express Entry system. It is for skilled foreign workers who have at least 1 year of Canadian work experience. This work experience will also make them eligible for certain employer-driven PNP programs. You can apply for these programs while your PGWP is still valid. 

If your PGWP expires while you are still waiting for a decision on your immigration application, then you may apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) to maintain your status.

Federal Skilled Worker (FSW): 

The FSW is managed by the Express Entry system. While this program does not require international students to have Canadian work experience, you will still be required to have 12 months of skilled work experience. Therefore, it is best suited for international students who already have skilled work experience abroad. 

This program is based on a point-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS assesses your application based on certain factors, including your age, language proficiency, education level, work experience, etc. If your profile ranks among the highest, then you will be invited to apply for permanent residence to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Canadian Experience Class (CEC): 

As mentioned above, the CEC program is also managed by the Express Entry system. To be eligible, you must have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada obtained within the last 36 months. Your part-time experience will also be considered if it accumulates up to 1,570 hours. However, your work experience gained during your study program will not be considered. In addition to this, if you meet certain criteria regarding your education level and language proficiency, you will be eligible to apply for this program.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): 

Except for Quebec and Nunavut, all other Canadian provinces and territories offer their own separate Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The PNP is a set of immigration pathways offered by a certain provincial government to meet their labor market shortages. The province nominates candidates with skills and experience relevant to the needs of their local labor market. Therefore, the eligibility criteria for every PNP will be specific to the needs of that province.

Generally, immigration streams under different PNPs require you to have a connection with the province in way of previous study or work experience gained in the province. International students can check out the PNP of the province they are currently studying in. Every PNP will have several immigration pathways for international graduates.

Quebec Immigration: 

Quebec operates its immigration system to maintain its autonomy and identity as a predominantly French-speaking province. While fluency in the French language is not mandatory for immigrating to the province, it is always helpful to know basic French. Quebec Immigration has 2 major immigration programs designed to facilitate the immigration of international students:

Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP): 

If you are in the process of completing your study program in Quebec, the QSWP may be the best option for you. This program does not require you to have fluency in the French language. However, since it is a points-based system, you will be required to meet the minimum required points on the Points Assessment Grid.

Quebec Experience Class (PEQ): 

The Quebec Experience Class program requires international students to have advanced intermediate knowledge of French-speaking. International students must apply after completing or within 6 months of completing their study program from an institution in Quebec.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP): 

The AIPP facilitates economic immigration to the Atlantic provinces of Canada, starting with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. It is set to become a permanent program in 2022. The AIPP offers the Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP) for international graduate students from eligible institutions in Atlantic provinces. You require prior work experience to apply for permanent residence through this program. 

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