Options for International Students to Permanently Immigrate to Canada Narrowing

international-studentsEvery year, Canada welcomes approximately 100,000 international students from all over the globe. From 2005 to 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) launched numerous programs designed to make it easier for students to find work experience in Canada after graduation before transitioning to permanent residents. This, however, is about to change and here’s why.

Diminishing Channels for Permanent Residency

Steven Muerrens’ column (published in Canadian Immigrant) back in May 2013 outlined some of the channels post-graduate work permit (PGWP) holders could use to remain in Canada after their PGWPs had expired. Here is an excerpt: “Some graduates regretfully lose their employment (and consequently jeopardize their permanent residence applications) if the employers are unable or unwilling to pay the required prevailing wage rates required for LMOs (labour market opinions), or if Service Canada refuses the applications because of insufficient recruitment on the employer’s part. There is no reason for this to be happening.”

Sadly, things have changed quite significantly for international students since then, and the options for international students to permanently immigrate to Canada are rapidly diminishing.

The Scrapping of the PWGP-LMO

Before July 31, 2013, it was relatively simple for employers to extend the period of employment for PGWP holders, and as long as there was a commitment to continue employing PWGP holders as skilled workers, Service Canada would waive requirements such as the prevailing wage and recruitment guidelines which are needed to employ foreign skilled workers.

The above exceptions made perfect sense, seeing that international graduates are quite different from other temporary foreign workers in Canada. The main difference is their considerable investment to be there, including significant tuition fees and the fact that they have already been in the country for several years, having found employment.

In this light, introducing the obligation for Canadian employers to start a fresh recruitment process for positions that international graduates already fill seems exceptionally unreasonable.

Now, thanks to media and political pressures, both of the exceptions that applied for international graduates have now been abolished, which means employers wishing to extend the employment term for an international graduate will have to enter into the same recruitment and wage requirements process they’d have to go through if they were hiring someone new from overseas.

LMIA and What it Means

Even if employers are willing to pay the median wage to recent graduates, and can show the Canadian Government that they cannot find other qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents for the job, they will be forced to enter a transition plan under the new labor market impact assessment (LMIA) scheme, ensuring they do not rely on any foreign workers in the future – even hard-working international graduates.

Are You Looking for An Immigration Attorney?

If you are an international graduate or are in need of immigration services, contact our experienced team of professionals at VisaPlace today, or fill out an online form to book an initial consultation – we will be happy to help.


Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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