Study in Canada- Working in Canada – International Student
International Students – The Road to Permanent Residence in Canada
Over 30,000 international students select Ontario as their study destination of choice, whether it is for their first university degree, graduate degrees, diploma or vocational studies. A Canadian education can provide that extra edge for foreign students seeking to return to their home country for their careers, although many international students wish to pursue their careers and establish themselves permanently in Canada.
In the past, it had been extremely frustrating for many foreign students to navigate the transition from a study permit holder to a Canadian permanent resident. In the past two years, however, the Canadian government has sought to address some of the obstacles that international students faced when attempting to qualify for permanent residence.
Most of the programs described below apply only to full-time international students attending publicly funded post-secondary institutions and students. With this in mind, prospective students should be aware of the eligibility criteria and their long term plans, whether it is permanent residence in Canada or returning to their home country.
Some of the most notable changes for international students are as follows:
Changing Schools or program of study: In January 2005 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) permitted foreign students in post-secondary studies in Canada to transfer between programs of study and institutions without applying to change their study permit. This policy applies to all students who are in post-secondary studies, including private educational institutions.
Off-Campus Work Permit: Announced by CIC in April 2006, foreign students attending publicly funded post-secondary educational institutions are now eligible to apply for off- campus work permit after 6 months of full time study for a maximum of 20 hours a week off-campus while classes are in session, and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as summer holidays or reading week. It is important to take note that the Off-Campus Work Permit Program only applies to foreign students attending publicly funded educational institutions and not private educational institutions in Ontario. These are public post-secondary institutions that have signed an off-campus work agreement with the government.
Post-graduate work permit : A post-graduate work permit for up to one year is available to eligible foreign students seeking Canadian work experience in their field of study. Work permit applications must be made within 90 days of receiving confirmation of the completion of an eligible program of study. Since May 2004, international students who attended an eligible school outside the GTA (or Montreal and Vancouver) and find employment outside these areas are permitted to apply for a work permit for up to two years after graduation.
Open Work Permit for Spouse or Common-law Partner of Student – Spouses or common-law partners of certain foreign students are permitted to apply for a work permit without the need for a confirmation from HRSDC. The spouse or common-law partner may not himself or herself be a full-time student. The foreign student must either be attending a full-time publicly funded degree or diploma granting post-secondary institution or on a valid post-graduate work permit in order for their spouse or common-law partner to apply. There is no need for an offer of employment in these cases and work permits will be issued for the same duration as the spouse’s study permit or post-graduate work permit.
New HRSDC Guidelines: HRSDC (Service Canada) has eased two of the six factors it considers for those seeking extensions from post-graduate work permits to HRSDC Labour Market Opinion (LMO) based work permits. Effective October 2006, HRSDC established guidelines in cases where employers wish to retain their foreign graduate employee after the expiration of the post-graduate work permit. Specifically, the guidelines provide that employers can be exempted from having to demonstrate recruitment efforts for Canadians or permanent residents; and with regard to wages offered, HRSDC officials will recognize that entry level professional occupations may be associated with lower salaries than the average for the occupation. HRSDC can issue an LMO for a period of two years in these cases.
The ability to gain skilled work-experience is an all-important factor for international students, as it allows them to gain valuable Canadian work experience. For international students who wish to remain in Canada as permanent residents, the new guidelines and ability to work off-campus may be critical for potentially working towards the minimum one-year continuous full time (or full-time equivalent) work experience requirement for their Skilled worker permanent residence application. With careful planning and skilled work experience under their belt, international students and foreign graduates can now successfully pursue an accessible route to Permanent Residence in Canada.
Marisol Diaz is Business developer and author specializing in helping clients create fulfilling and meaningful career opportunities for local and international trained professionals. Get help creating your own exciting career opportunity in Canada with a step-by-step books and guides, seminars and Workshops such as “Steps to Starting Your Own Business” in Canada. Check also Business, Jobs & Careers products