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)
- Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
- Quebec Immigration
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP)
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).