The measures aim to ensure that international students at Canadian institutions will not miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the “myriad challenges” they have faced as a result of the pandemic.
“This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities”
The move will be welcomed by students and follows distress documented from many students concerned that their visa processing was stalled – as reported in The PIE.
The knowledge that they can access post-graduate work opportunities despite studying remotely may lessen concerns voiced about the difficulties in accessing their studies and the investment made into a Canadian education.
“This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow,” minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino said.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: We don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”
The announcement extends a previous policy that allowed students to count time spent studying online outside Canada towards the length of a post-graduation work permit, starting from when they applied for a study permit.
The government has recently also revealed open work permits for former international students who hold or held a post-graduation work permit, as – according to Mendicino – the country is “reimagining the way we do immigration” in the midst of the pandemic.
IRCC added that attracting skilled immigrants is a central part of the country’s plan as Canada confronts the pandemic’s second wave and charts a course for recovery.
The policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care and technology, it said, as well as help even more former international students build their futures in Canada.
One challenge that international students have been facing recently, is a struggle with visa delays that students have said is leading to mental health issues.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: We don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here,” Mendicino reminded.
“Whether as health workers on the pandemic’s front lines, or as founders of some of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue the fight against the pandemic. Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting.”
According to IRCC, international students contribute more than $21 billion annually Canada’s economy, in addition to bringing strong employment and language skills.
The decision of 58,000 graduates successfully applying to immigrate permanently in 2019 will help Canada address its “stark” demographic challenges, the government added.
Immigrants are needed to support the country’s ageing population, it said. Currently there are three Canadian workers for every retired Canadian, but by 2035, there will be only two per retiree, which means that younger Canadians will “end up paying more per person to provide the same benefits”.
The measures will apply to all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.
To be eligible, international students must:
- are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program
- began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020
- have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved
- meet all other PGWP criteria