Canada international students

There are many pathways for graduates to stay in Canada

The Canadian Board of International Education (CBIE) has recently released the results of their 2021 annual international student survey. The survey contains data from over 41,000 students from 67 Canadian educational institutions. International students provided input on their experiences with all aspects of studying in Canada. They answered questions about why they decided to study in Canada, their experiences while studying, and their post-graduation plans.

CBIE is a non-profit organization that aims to advance Canadian international education and promote the benefits of studying in Canada worldwide.

Safety and stability are a deciding factor

Canada consistently ranks among the safest countries in the world. However, this is the first time safety has outranked academic reputation as the deciding factor for students choosing to study in Canada, with close to 80% saying it was the biggest draw.

The reputation of Canada’s educational institutions ranked as the second consideration for 70% of students. Additionally, over half of respondents said Canada’s tolerance, diversity and inclusivity made it attractive as place to study.

Nearly 40 % reported choosing Canada because they hope to become permanent residents once they have completed their studies.

How students fund their time in Canada

Most students reported being able to afford to study in Canada through the support of parents, grandparents, and other family members. Approximately one-third of students reported relying on off-campus work and personal savings in addition to family support.

Can international students work in Canada?

Students who are enrolled in a designated learning institution (DLI) can work without obtaining a work permit. To be eligible:

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You must be a full-time student in a program that is at least six months long and leads to a certificate or diploma
You have already started studying
You have a Social Insurance Number
You may work up to 20 hours a week throughout the academic semester, and you may work more than one job to make up the hours. During academic breaks, you are allowed to work full-time.

On-campus jobs

Students may only work on-campus until the final day they are enrolled as full-time students unless they are part time students in their final semester and do not require a full course load.

Part-time students are only eligible to work if they are in the last semester of their full-time study program and do not require a full course load in that semester to graduate.

High rate of acceptance for international students
Students reported that their experiences living and studying in Canada have been positive overall.

They describe their initial arrival in coming to Canada as relatively easy, with finding accommodation listed as the biggest difficulty. Although 39% did cite some difficulty in obtaining a study visa, getting a letter of acceptance from an educational institution was ranked as the easiest part of coming to Canada.

Students reported feeling able to form connections and a sense of community with other international students or those who are from the same country. However, they do experience some difficulty forming connections outside of these areas.

Staying in Canada after graduation
When asked about post-graduation plans, most respondents indicated that they planned to pursue permanent resident status and remain in Canada. Others said they would gain work experience in Canada for a few years before returning to their home countries.

Graduates who wish to remain in Canada after they complete their studies have many options to pursue permanent residence.

Post Graduation Work Permit

More than 70% of students said they planned to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) when they complete their studies. Getting a PGWP allows you to gain valuable Canadian work experience that can count toward an application for permanent residence.

A PGWP is an open work permit that allows recent grads to work for any employer, in any occupation in Canada. The length of the permit depends on how long your program was, up to a maximum of three years. Programs less than eight months long are not eligible for a PGWP and a program two years or more can qualify for up to three years.

Canadian Experience Class

The most common Express Entry program for PGWP holders is the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). After graduation, if you complete one year of working in Canada and meet a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 for jobs that fall under National Occupation Classification skill code B, or CLB 7 for jobs with NOC’s 0 or A, you can apply for Express Entry.

Work experience gained during your time as a full-time student does not count towards the work experience required for Express Entry.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Almost every province in Canada operates its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). PNPs are aimed at addressing the labor market needs of provinces and territories. Most provinces have programs designed specifically for recently graduated international students, each with unique eligibility criteria.

Quebec Experience Program

The Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) is for international students who completed their studies in Quebec. You may be eligible for this program, if you have a high proficiency in the French language, are 18 or older and you intend to live and work in Quebec.

Other options for students

Canada has over 100 economic class pathways that international students may be eligible to apply for.

Atlantic Immigration Program: Graduates that have studied in Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, or Newfoundland and Labrador may be eligible for this program
Hong Kong: Hong Kong nationals that have studied in Canada may be able to obtain permanent residence through this program.
Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot: This program is for international students who wish to live and work in northern or rural areas of Canada.

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