Foreign Student’s Study-Work-Settle Route in Canada
Canada’s Unique Direct PR Options for International Graduates Explained
You have decided to study in Canada and, having planned your future options smartly, were in a position to work in Canada during your studies. You explored the PGWP /open work permit/employer-specific work permit route to temporarily work on Canada.
Until now, the study-work process was similar to what exists in other countries like the US and Australia.
However, things change once you consider Canadian permanent residence. Across the world, a foreigner can become a permanent resident only after working and living in the county for a fixed period of time.
What makes Canada unique is that international graduates have the option of applying directly for permanent residence.
Express Entry is the application system for three federal immigration programs. What’s unique about EE is that a Canadian job offer is not mandatory for permanent residence. If your CRS score is high enough to qualify for an ITA, then you can qualify for direct PR as long as you have enough funds to sustain yourself in the country.
Since work experience gained as a student does not count under the Canadian Experience Class program and the Federal Skilled Trades program is for trade workers, the only federal program open to international graduates is the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
To qualify, you must have at least one year of full-time (or equivalent part-time) work experience in your occupation. Happily, work experience gained as a student too counts, which means the right kind of work experience can help you qualify for a direct Express Entry ITA right after your graduate.
This is not as easy as it sounds but it certainly is possible.
Provincial Express Entry Streams
One advantage of applying through Express Entry is that you qualify for the various Express Entry streams of different provincial nomination programs.
The programs are open to those who are eligible to apply through Express Entry and, further, fulfill the eligibility requirements set by different provinces.
This opens options like Ontario’s French-Speaking Skilled worker stream where you can qualify for nomination even without a job offer in the province provided you have high proficiency in English as well as French.
So, enrolling yourself in a French language course when studying in Canada can help you qualify for this option by the time you graduate.
Of course, you will need an expert to guide you through the various options so that you can choose the one that’s best suited to your occupation and career preferences.
PNP Non-Express Entry Streams
Apart from EE streams that allow provinces to select skilled workers in the Express Entry pool, there are different non-Express Entry streams for skilled workers. This is an option worth exploring if you are unable to qualify through Express Entry due to lack of work experience.
The biggest advantage of this route is that you can qualify for direct PR through the International Graduate and International Graduate Entrepreneur streams.
These streams are designed to help provinces retain international students who have studied and graduated from institutions located in the province.
British Columbia has a PNP stream for International graduates with no minimum work experience requirement. Those completing a post-graduate degree from the province can qualify for PR even if they don’t have a job offer in hand.
These streams help you bypass the disadvantage of no work experience and help you avoid work permit hassles by qualifying directly for permanent residence through provincial nomination.
What if you want to setup your own business after graduating? Canadian provinces are keen on attracting entrepreneurial talent as well. This is why multiple provinces like Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick offer entrepreneur streams designed for international students graduating from the province.
These streams require applicants to submit a business plan. Post approval, you will be issued a two-year work permit that will allow you to setup and run your business in the province. You can then qualify for PR nomination after fulfilling the requirements of the Business Performance Agreement.
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The X-Factor—Pilot Programs
The route to direct PR in Canada becomes even easier if you are ready to explore provinces that struggle to attract international students and foreign skilled workers.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot has a program exclusively for foreign students graduating from one of the four Atlantic provinces covered under the pilot.
This pilot does not require any work experience, which means you can plan for direct PR by focusing your efforts on qualifying for a valid job offer from an eligible employer in the province.
Any talented student will good grades and an ambitious approach should not find it difficult to land a job offer, which means your path to Canadian PR may be set by your simple decision of choosing to study in an Atlantic province.
With Canada deploying rural immigration pilot programs, you can chart an easy route to PR by choosing a good educational institution located in a rural community that is not preferred by a large number of foreign students or skilled workers.
The best part is that you need not compromise on quality of education or your future careers prospects just for the sake of permanent residence. Again, professional immigration advice will be very beneficial for you in comparing these options and identifying the right one suited to your talent and future plans.
What makes Canada a truly unique immigration destination is that all this information is available even before you have decided whether you want to study abroad or not. This leaves you free to make an informed choice whether you want to just study in Canada or study or work and the return back home or plan a life in Canada for many years ahead.