The opportunity is part of a wider announcement to permit permanent residency to over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates who “possess the skills and experience [the country] needs to fight the pandemic and accelerate [its] economic recovery”.
Along with the international graduate option, two other streams will grant permanent status to some 20,000 temporary workers in health care and 30,000 temporary workers in other selected essential occupations.
“Your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting”
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers,” said Canada’s minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino.
“These new policies will help those with a temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better. Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting — and we want you to stay.”
To be eligible for the graduate stream, international graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the last four years, and no earlier than January 2017.
The government added that the accelerated pathway to permanent residency will encourage international graduates to “put down roots” in Canada, while it will also help the country to retain the talented workers it needs as a result of “serious demographic challenges”.
Mendicino comments are similar to those he made when revealing a new 18-month open work permit to post-graduation work permit holders earlier in 2021.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here,” he said at the time.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has also extended post-graduate work permit rules to international students forced to study online to ensure they “won’t miss out on opportunities” on work after graduation.
The new pathway to residency will also help Canada achieve its 2021 Immigration Levels Plan, aiming to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents, who the government say will help create jobs and drive long-term growth.
Universities Canada previously said that those immigration targets are a “positive signal to international students that Canada is eager to welcome skilled talent from around the world”.
The latest announcement “sends the message that the contributions of international students and graduates are important to the economy – both during the pandemic and the recovery”, a Universities Canada spokesperson told The PIE.
“International students are extremely valuable members of our university communities and beyond. They enhance our classrooms with diverse perspectives; they contribute more than $22 billion annually to the Canadian economy; and they expand course offerings for domestic students.
“Those who choose to stay in Canada after their studies enter the workforce with valuable skills and experience. Universities across Canada want these students here.”
IRCC also said three additional streams with no intake caps have been launched for French-speaking or bilingual candidates in order to promote Canada’s official languages. The pathway will contribute to the vitality of Canada’s Francophone minority communities, it added.
“As we continue the fight against the pandemic, immigration will remain critical to our economic recovery by addressing labour shortages and adding growth to our workforce,” the government said.
In 2020, Colleges and Institutes Canada highlighted the “critical” role international talent could play in the post-Covid economic recovery.
CBIE said it welcomes the “significant announcement”, adding the new pathway “will benefit students who have made the decision to travel and study in Canada or who have chosen to continue with their post-graduate work programs in Canada, particularly during these challenging Covid-19 times”.
“Canada values the diversity of knowledge, skills and experiences of international graduates. These new measures serve to underscore and recognise the meaningful, and unique contributions of our international graduates across Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast.
“This announcement further creates opportunities for bilingual or French-speaking graduates to access this stream to stay and contribute to Canadian Francophonie communities over the long term,” the organisation said.
For Gen Z, pathways to work and settlement after graduation “have become, and will continue to be, an increasingly important factor in choosing a study destination”, Isaac Garcia-Sitton, executive director, International Student Enrolment, Education & Inclusion at Ryerson University highlighted.
“There is no question that one of the unique features of international education in Canada is the fact that it is closely linked to immigration. It’s a two-way street,” he told The PIE.
“Students benefit from the quality of our system, while aspiring to start their journey of education, work, and settlement in Canada. Also, for Canada, students have been deemed as ‘ideal immigrants’ to build our future workforce. During their studies, students get to know our country and learn about our culture, while contributing and enriching Canadian society with their diverse perspectives and inputs.
“This announcement will continue to position Canada as not only a premium destination for education, but a destination that embraces diversity, values newcomers’ contributions during a very challenging time, and a country where people can start a new life and build a future.”
“International students have certainly noticed that Canada has become a global leader in creating expansive post-graduate opportunities for work and residency, to augment the world-class education they receive at our high-quality educational institutions,” added Anjali Anand Seth international recruitment specialist at Huron University.
“At Huron, our students benefit immensely from our interdisciplinary paid internship opportunities and our new Career Accelerator Program; the vision and measures outlined by the federal government give students continued confidence that they will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge, skills and experiences they acquire during their studies to meaningful post-graduate opportunities.”
IRCC will begin accepting applications for the three streams on May 6, 2021. The graduate stream will end on November 5, 2021, or once 40,000 applications have been received, whichever comes first.