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Canada: student residency pathway “key pillar” for immigration targets

The Canadian government has reiterated its support for international students coming to Canada and the role they can play in helping Canada meet its immigration targets.

ImmigrationStakeholders discussed Canadian visa processing and residency at a recent PIE webinar. Photo: The PIE News

The government said it plans to attract more than 1.2 million immigrants

“We look forward to welcoming international students back to our campuses across Canada once it is safe to do so,” said Mary Ng, minister for international trade, in a statement during a recent PIE webinar.

“Our government is dedicating resources to ensuring study permit processing for as many students as possible in time for the fall semester.”

“Our government is dedicating resources to ensuring study permit processing for as many students as possible”

On the subject of the new pathway to permanent residency for international students already in Canada, Ng said the pathway was “a key pillar in our government’s commitment to welcoming more than 400,000 new permanent residents each year going forward, the highest commitment to increasing immigration in Canada’s history”.

Canada’s ability to meet its immigration targets last year were severely hampered by the pandemic.

In October, the government said it plans to attract more than 1.2 million immigrants over the next three years to the country of just over 38 million people, in part due to Canada’s low birth rate.

According to a recent Navitas survey, Canada is the number one choice for agencies ahead of the UK, despite the issues some students have had with processing applications.

“The postgraduate work and the permanent residency streams [are] absolutely critical for all the universities and colleges in parts of Canada that are outside of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver. We really need these students,” said Sonja Knutson, director of the internationalisation office at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

“And we’ve been really grateful for the postgraduate work permit flexibility. But one of the big challenges [has been] with IRCC and the fact that their processes rely on third parties.

“One of the big challenges [has been] with IRCC and the fact that their processes rely on third parties”

“Biometrics and English proficiency exams haven’t necessarily been open, but also a lot of their processes, especially in some countries, are more in-person.”

While there has been some pushback on the immigration plans – economists have questioned the logic of increased immigration during a time of high unemployment and issues around the lack of desire among recent arrivals to live outside major hubs like Toronto and Vancouver – universities, including regional universities, have welcomed the news.

They are also pushing for more accommodation for international students when it comes to obtaining work experience.

“We’ve really shifted our focus in the last five years or so to preparing international students for the Canadian workplace and making sure that they’re able to access both on campus and off campus employment opportunities in an equitable way,” said Rummana Khan, vice provost and associate vice president, students and international, Simon Fraser University.

“I think we all need to think about this. We have students that are going to be arriving for the first time in Canada who have been our students for some time now or studying remotely, whose access to employment opportunities have just shrunk.

“We’re going to need to work with everybody across the sector. This is where organisations, institutions, the government can really come together to say, what are we going to do to ramp up both preparation but also employment opportunities for international students that are arriving late in their programs and need to get some Canadian work experience.”

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