With the announcement of the new Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023. The Canadian government hopes to welcome over 1.2 million new permanent residents in the next coming three years. This could be an easier pathway for international students to gain Canadian permanent residence.
International students in Canada will likely play a pivotal role in helping the federal government achieve its immigration targets. Canada’s immigration ministry recently announced that the government aims to grant 401,000 Canadian permanent residence in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.
The likely candidates to fill these immigration targets? foreign students in Canadian universities who remain in the country after concluding studies. They stand the chance to benefit from clear government immigration pathways, according to Universities Canada director of research and external affairs Wendy Therrien.
It begins with a study permit that allows foreign students to study in Canada and get a postgraduate work permit upon finishing their studies. The postgraduate work permit is open and flexible and allows international students to work for any employer, at any location in Canada.
Foreign students who applied for their permanent residence after completing one year of a postgraduate work permit would make up a large part of the IRCC’s targets, says Cosmina Morariu, senior manager of Fragomen, an immigration law firm.
“The duration you can get on that permit is three (3) years, so it is very favourable. The moment you have one year of employment in Canada you can apply for Canadian permanent residence,” she says.
Canada hopes to welcome mostly economic immigrants — targeting 723,500 — between 2021 and 2023. The economic immigrant group comprises six sections: Federal Business, Federal High Skilled, Economic Pilots (Agri-Food Pilot; Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot; Caregivers), Provincial Nominee Program, Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, and Quebec Skilled Workers and Business.
While the breakdown does not specifically mention international students, Morariu said students normally fall under the economic class immigration. Canada is the world’s third-leading destination of international students with 642,000 international students. Last year Canada approved over 400,000 new study permits.
India is the leading source for international students, followed by China, South Korea, Vietnam, and France rounding off the top five (5) countries. The country is also seeing an increased number of student applicants from the United States as well.
“I think we are going to see many people applying for study permits because it is very easy to get your foot in the door and apply for Canadian permanent residence,” said Morariu.
Memorial University of Newfoundland internationalization office director Sonja Knutson said that Canada’s international education strategy has been successful partly because of the country’s reputation for smooth immigration pathways, openness to diverse cultures, and recognition that adapting to new demography is a “two-way street”.
“So while the immigration announcement doesn’t yet provide details about direct impacts on students, we do believe the news will help international student recruitment since international students and their parents continue to see Canada as a safe and welcoming haven,” she said.
Minister of Immigration, Mr Marco Mendicino said in the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration that Canada is a safe and welcoming place for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
“Immigrants enrich Canada beyond measures, and no accounting of our progress over the last 150 years is complete without including the contributions of new immigrants,” he said.