Canadian Immigration News

Options for International Graduates Who Want to Remain in and Immigrate to Canada

6.25 minute read
"Are you a recent international graduate exploring options to continue your stay in Canada? Do you want to immigrate permanently? As an international student, you are a welcomed addition and Canada wants to retain you as a skilled worker.There are several immigration pathways for international students who want to transition to permanent residence in Canada. Completing a study program in Canada reflects that you are highly educated, likely to be fluent in English or French and have adapted to the Canadian lifestyle."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Apr 20, 2021
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Are you a recent international graduate exploring options to continue your stay in Canada? Do you want to immigrate permanently? As an international student, you are a welcomed addition and Canada wants to retain you as a skilled worker.

There are several immigration pathways for international students who want to transition to permanent residence in Canada. Completing a study program in Canada reflects that you are highly educated, likely to be fluent in English or French and have adapted to the Canadian lifestyle. 

What are the Options for International Graduates for Permanent Residence?

Here is an overview of options available to international students and graduates who wish to immigrate to Canada after the completion of their Canadian study programs:

Employer-Specific Work Permit: 

This option involves obtaining an employer-specific work permit that allows you to work for a specific employer and gain work experience in Canada. You can eventually apply for permanent residence to the government body of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

This option is viable for you if you are not eligible to apply for permanent residence otherwise or your study program makes you ineligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This option is also viable if you have an employment offer for a longer work duration than the PGWP will be valid for. 

Gaining work experience in Canada makes international graduates eligible to apply through the federal Express Entry system to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.

Open Work Permit:  

An open work permit authorizes you to work anywhere in Canada for any employer. It allows you to switch employers and job positions easily.

International students can apply for a specific type of open work permit known as a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

A PGWP is valid for 3 years and is only for international students whose study program lasts more than 2 years.

This option is perfect for international graduates with a job offer to gain work experience and eventually apply for permanent residence in Canada. 

International students can eventually enter the federal Express Entry system and apply for an economic immigration program they are eligible for like the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) or the CEC. 

Quebec Experience Class (PEQ): 

This is a direct pathway for permanent residency for international students who have completed their study programs in Quebec. International students are required to have an eligible degree or diploma obtained from a recognized Quebec university for a study program that lasted at least 2 years.

International students must have resided in Quebec for at least half of their study program and demonstrate language proficiency in French.

International students applying for this program must be over the age of 18 and have temporary residence status in Quebec. They must intend to reside in Quebec after obtaining their permanent residence. 

Obtaining permanent residence in Quebec is a 2 step process. Applicants will be required to attain a Quebec Selection Certificate or Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ). A CSQ authorizes you to apply for permanent residence to the federal government. 

The most important feature of this program is that it does not require international students to have any sort of work experience. Applications to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) are prioritized by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) resulting in faster processing of your permanent residency application. 

International Graduate Stream of various Provincial Nomination Programs:  

Except for Quebec and Nunavut, all provinces and territories offer their own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to nominate eligible applicants for permanent residency.

If you are considering applying through a PNP, then you must consider the opportunities available in each province. Some provinces allow you to apply even if you graduated in another province while others may restrict your application for this reason. 

The following provincial programs offer immigration streams for international graduates:

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP): 

The International Graduate Stream offered by the OINP serves as an immigration pathway for international graduates from designated learning institutions in Ontario. There are 2 streams under it: 

  • Master's Graduate Stream  
  • Ph.D. Graduate (PG) Stream

You must apply within 2 years of completing your study program. You must also reside in Ontario for at least 1 year to qualify. If your application is successful, then you will receive a provincial nomination to apply for permanent residence. 

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP): 

The BC PNP offers the Skills Immigration Category with 2 immigration stream for international graduates:

The BC PNP also offers the Express Entry aligned version of these PNP immigration streams for international students without a job offer: 

Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP): 

International students working with a PGWP are eligible to apply through the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS). The AOS is part of the AINP. Applicants must have at least 6 months of work experience in a field related to their study program. 

Applicants must be already working in Alberta. 

Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP): 

The MPNP offer the International Education Stream with 3 immigration streams for international students:

  1. Career Employment Pathway (MPNP): The Career Employment Pathway is for international graduates with a valid work permit and a valid job offer for a skilled occupation.
  2. Graduate Internship Pathway (MPNP): Graduate Internship Pathway is for international graduates with a master's or doctoral degree currently employed in the Mitacs Elevate or Accelerate internship. 
  3. International Student Entrepreneur Pilot (MPNP): The International Student Entrepreneur Pilot is for international graduates who wish to establish a business and can meet the conditions of their Business Performance Agreement.

Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP): 

International graduates can apply through 1 of the immigration streams offered under the Saskatchewan Experience Category (SINP) if they have a valid job offer from a designated employer in the province. 

Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP): 

The NSNP offers a range of immigration streams for international graduates including:  

New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP): 

The Express Entry Labour Market Stream (NBPNP) stream prioritizes international graduates who have completed their study programs in the province. 

The NBPNP also offers the Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream (NBPNP) for international graduates with a PGWP and an operational business in the province.

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP): 

The PEI PNP offers the PEI PNP Express Entry for international students who graduated from a designated PEI post-secondary institution. 

You can also apply through the International Graduate Stream offered under the Labour Impact Category (PEI PNP) for foreign students who have a PGWP and a valid job offer from a designated employer for an occupation related to their study program.

Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP): The NLPNP offers the International Graduate Category (NLPNP) for international students who recently graduated who either have a valid job offer from a designated employer in Newfoundland and Labrador or who are currently employed.

You must have a valid PGWP at the time of applying and have graduated from an approved institution from a 2-year study program.

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP): 

The AIPP is also considered a direct immigration pathway. It is an initiative by the federal government to encourage economic immigration to the Atlantic provinces of Canada: 

  • New Brunswick 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island

The AIPP offers the Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP) for international graduates who wish to immigrate to one of the Atlantic provinces of Canada. 

Applicants for the AIGP do not require work experience to qualify for the program. They also do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

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