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Canada offers work permit extension to former international students

The Canadian government has announced that former international students, whose work permits are expiring will be offered the opportunity to work in Canada for another 18 months.

Those who have applied to the permanent residency stream will also be offered open work permits. Photo: Pexels

Those who are still in Canada will also be able to work in the interim period

As part of the move, those still in Canada will also be able to work in the interim period while they wait for their permit to be extended. It follows a similar announcement earlier in the year that recent international graduates would be offered the chance to stay and work in Canada for longer to address labour shortages.

“This is a very positive development for many former international students who have studied in Canada and received their permit, but through the circumstances of the pandemic and other delays may not have been able to fully utilise their work authorisation,” Philipp Reichert, director of global engagement at the University of British Columbia, told The PIE News.

“While many students are already interested in staying and settling in Canada, there are often challenges associated with the limited timeline so this temporary extension for specific holders is helpful for many students who like to continue to expand their careers,” he continued.

“This is a very positive development for many former international students”

The criteria differ slightly depending on when the permit has expired or will expire, and on individual circumstances.

“Positioning ourselves as an open and welcoming destination that values international students requires measures such as these to support current and former international students as they build their life here,” Isaac Garcia-Sitton executive director of international student enrolment, education and inclusion at Toronto Metropolitan University, told The PIE.

“[The new measures] have several positive implications for our national economic growth, as well as post-pandemic recovery efforts,” Garcia-Sitton added.

Those whose permits have yet to expire and run out between October 2 and December 31 of this year, and have a valid passport for at least two more years will not need to lift a finger – the updated permit will be automatically renewed and sent to the individual.

If the permit has already expired or expires before October, they will need to apply online at the IRCC for the permit from August 2 – under the special measures, those who also need to restore any expired temporary status will be able to apply to do that concurrently.

Crucially, those who have left Canada will also be able to apply for the permit and status restoration and return when it has been approved.

Garcia-Sitton pointed out that this isn’t the be-all and end-all solution.

“Immigration policy measures may be a reason international students decide to stay longer, but not the reason they call Canada home”

“The issue is multidimensional – once international students complete their studies and are ideally position to fill many of the gaps in our labour market, they are facing more discrimination and vulnerabilities to financial hardships and isolation that most Canadian students.

“Immigration policy measures may be a reason international students decide to stay longer, but not the reason they call Canada home… these measures should be complemented by efforts to build a more inclusive society,” Garcia-Sitton explained.

Those who are still in Canada when they apply for the renewed work permit, in even more encouraging news for international graduates, will be able to work in the interim period.

The special measures apply to all those who are looking to renew, including those whose permits expired from September 20 last year, and will be in effect until May next year – meaning they will be able to support themselves while they wait and not be forced to return to their country of origin.

“It’s an advantage because it provides both the [former student] and their employers clarity around their legal right…which research has indicated is often one of the major challenges – e.g., hesitancy or confusion around legal work statuses,” said Reichert.

The move is extremely beneficial for the stead of Canada in the post-study work sector, allowing more and more people to follow their pathway, eventually, to Canadian permanent residency if they wish.

“It also allows them to… potentially qualify for one of the various PR streams, which require specific levels of time and work classifications,” Reichert added.

When it comes to the temporary to permanent resident pathways – whose applications haven’t been finalised – applicants will be able to apply for an open permit lasting until the end of 2024, meaning – like those waiting for an extended permit – they can support themselves until their permanent residency is confirmed.

“Government initiatives to ease the submission, review process and reduce wait times are essential”

The plans come as a new survey suggested in July that over half of overseas students in Canada are intending to apply for permanent residency at some point after they graduate.

“It’s important that we have transparency in the study permit application process – in many instances, delays and complexities act as a deterrent for students who choose to study and subsequently stay in Canada.

“Government initiatives to ease the submission, review process and reduce wait times are essential,” Garcia-Sitton added.

He also pointed out that TMU students securing their study permits for the Fall 2022 semester are experiencing “significant challenges”, in line with the reports of visa processing issues facing the country in recent months.

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