Foreign Student’s Study-Work-Settle Route in Canada
Work During Study and Post-Graduation Work Options for Canadian Foreign Students Explained
More than 400,000 international students obtained study permits in Canada in 2019. As of December 2019, there were more than 642,000 foreign students in the country.
Canada’s population of international students has grown six-fold in the last two decades and tripled in the last decade. Further, the last two years have seen double-digit growth in international students’ admission.
Despite the pandemic, more than 65,000 students got study permits in Canada in the first four months of 2020. Going ahead, Canada will benefit from US work visa shut down as well as its pro-immigrant policies.
So, if you are a young student looking to explore your options of studying in Canada, then it’s very important for you to understand the study-work-settle route preferred by international students all over the globe.
Study-Work-Settle Route Explained
The decision to apply for a foreign degree is never about just studying abroad. Foreign education in always viewed as the means to a better life.
Finding a job in Canada should not be very difficult for a talented individual who has just spend three-four years getting a degree in a Canadian institution. Canada has multiple options for a foreign student seeking to work in the country.
These include an open work permit, a post-graduate work permit, the conventional employer- specific work permit under TFWP, as well as direct PR through Express Entry or provincial nomination.
Read ahead for an overview of all your work options during and after your international degree so that you can take an informed decision about your study and post-study work plans in Canada.
Working When Studying in Canada
There are three options for those planning on working when studying in Canada.
a. On-Campus Work
b. Off-Campus Work
c. Coop or Intern Work Permit
Every full-time secondary student with a valid study permit can do on-campus work after the study program starts. You can work for school, faculty, student organization, private business, private contractor, or even for yourself as long as you work only on the campus.
You can do off-campus work only if specifically approved by your study permit. Only part-time work i.e. up to 20 hours per week during regular term. Full-time work is permitted during schedule breaks in the term.
Coop or Intern work permit
Some courses or programs allow students to graduate only after they acquire work experience in Canada. This requirement must be confirmed by the Designated Learning Institution in its Letter of Acceptance.
You can apply for a coop or intern work permit that will be issued separately from the study permit. To qualify, the duration of work must be less than 50 percent of the duration of your study course.
Working after Graduating in Canada
A foreign students has the following options to work in Canada after completing the studies.
a. Open Work Permit
b. Post-Graduate Work Permit
c. Employer-Specific Work Permit
Apply for your post-study work permit before your study permit expires. If this is not feasible, then apply for a visitor visa so that you have legal status in Canada even if your study permit expires. Ignoring this may result in complications because you would no longer have legal status to be in the country.
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Open work permit
A foreign student who has graduated from a Designated Learning Institution and who is eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit is eligible to apply for an open work permit.
The biggest advantage of this option is that you are not bound to a specific employer. However, the PGWP route is a much better option for international graduates.
Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)
As the name suggests, this is a work permit designed specifically to help foreign graduates work in Canada after completing their studies.
To apply, your DLI study program must be eligible for the PGWP. This is extremely important. If you join a course that’s not eligible for the PGWP, then this route will be closed to you. This is one important reason why working with an immigration professional will be beneficial even when applying for the study permit.
You must apply within 180 days from the time you get your final marks and your study permit must be valid at time of application. Use the Visitor Visa route if your permit will expire before you become eligible to apply for the PGWP.
Duration of the study permit depends on the duration of the course. You cannot apply for them PGWP if your study course is of less than eight months duration.
If your course duration is between eight months and two years, then your PGWP will be valid for the duration of your course. So, graduating from a 18-month course will mean your PGWP will be valid for 18 months.
If course duration is more than two years, then your PGWP will be valid for three years.
The biggest advantage here is that you don’t need a job offer to qualify for the PGWP. This is very unique because work visas/permits are rarely issued without the applicant having a valid job offer in hand.
This means the PGWP can help you stay and search for a job in Canada even after you have completed your studies.
The open work permit as well as the PGWP are LMIA-exempt work permits under the International Mobility Program. So, your employer will be exempt from all LMIA-related formalities and procedures.
Employer-Specific Work Permit under TFPW
This is the conventional route to work in Canada. You get a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. You apply for the work permit while your employer must get LMIA approval, which includes submitting a transition plan and advertising for qualified domestic workers.
This is the most complicated route that is preferred only by foreign students who are not eligible for the PGWP/open work permit route.
It’s very important to note that your post-study work options will depend on choices made before you even applied for the Canadian study permit. This is why your post-study work options should be a part of your Canadian study plan itself.
Obviously, the smartest and simplest option is to invest in the services of an immigration professional who has the knowledge and experience to help you take the best decisions for your short-term as well as long-term Canadian prospects.