You are currently viewing Pathways to PR for students in Canada

Pathways to PR for students in Canada

  • Post category:Newsletters
  • Reading time:12 mins read

 

Niku Shaeri is an Immigration lawyer at Gerami Law PC. She represents clients on various immigration and refugee matters including sponsorships, humanitarian applications, refugee appeals and applications for protection, as well as other temporary and permanent residence applications.

I am in Canada as a student, what is my pathway to Permanent Residence?

If you are studying in Canada, or intend to do so in the future, you may be considering your options for remaining in Canada after you have completed your program of study. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply to remain in Canada on a temporary or permanent basis. The most common pathway is to apply for a work permit after graduation and obtain skilled work experience to put towards a future application for permanent residence in Canada. These programs and their requirements are outlined below, as are alternative programs for temporary and permanent residence in Canada.

Applying for a work permit after graduation

You may be eligible to apply for a work permit once you have completed your program of study in Canada. This is called a “Post-Graduation Work Permit” (PGWP). In order to be eligible for a PGWP, you must meet certain conditions during your studies in Canada, including the following:

  • You have attended a PGWP-eligible program at a Designated Learning Institution;
  • You were a full-time student during each semester of your program (with some exceptions for your last term; a period of authorized leave; or certain covid-based exemptions); and
  • You have graduated from this program[1]

There are some circumstances that could make you ineligible for a PGWP.  You are ineligible for a PGWP if you’ve received one before, if you’ve received funding from Global Affairs Canada, if you’ve participated in certain awards, exchange or fellowship programs, completed the majority of your students by distance learning or studied in Canada at a non-Canadian institution.[2]

Due to the impacts of Covid-19, some individuals may have studied remotely from outside Canada during the pandemic. They may still be eligible to apply for a PGWP if they were enrolled in a program in progress in March 2020 or started a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022. They must also have applied for a study permit and have either received an approval, or eventually receive an approval on that application[3]

After graduation, you have up to 180 days to apply for a PGWP. With your application you will need to include a copy of your final transcript and an official letter from your school confirming you completed your program of study. Additionally, if you are applying from within Canada you should have valid status in Canada at the time of your application, such as a study permit or visitor record[4].

Current processing times for PGWP applications are approximately 150 days. After you have applied for a PGWP and while you are waiting for a decision on the application, you can work full time in Canada so long as you held a valid study permit at the time of submitting your PGWP application; and meet certain conditions such as having completed your study program; and that while you were a student you were eligible to work off campus without a work permit and did not work more hours than you were allowed.[5]  After you have applied for a PGWP, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (‘IRCC’) may provide you with an acknowledgement of receipt letter confirming your authorization to work while you are waiting for a decision on your application.[6]

The length of the work permit’s validity will be based on the length of the study program you have completed and can be valid for up to 3 years[7]. PGWPs cannot typically be extended, however in August 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (‘IRCC’) released information regarding a special program for extending work permits for those whose PGWPs have expired or will expire between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022. Depending on when their PGWP expires or has expired, individuals may need to apply for the extension, or may be issued the work permit automatically[8].

If you do not qualify for a PGWP, you may be eligible for another type of work permit such as a work permit based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (‘LMIA’), which requires that you have a job offer from an employer who has completed an LMIA[9].  There are also a number of other work permit programs that are exempt from the LMIA requirement, including the International Experience Class and Francophone Mobility programs.[10]

If your country of origin has a Youth Mobility Agreement with Canada, you may also be eligible for an International Experience Class (IEC) work permit. There are three categories of IEC work permit: Working Holiday; Young Professionals; and International Co-op. Each category has varying requirements[11].

If French is your habitual language of daily use, and you have a qualifying job offer in a skilled occupation from a Canadian employer outside of Quebec, then you may also be eligible for a Francophone Mobility work permit.[12]  This type of work permit requires a qualifying job offer from an eligible employer but does not require an LMIA.[13] 

Applying for permanent residence in Canada

If you complete skilled work in Canada on a PGWP or other valid work permit, this can be used towards an application for permanent residence through the Express Entry program. For instance, the Canadian Experience Class stream of the Express Entry Program requires at least 1 year of skilled work experience in Canada, in addition to other requirements such as language and education requirements[14].

If you have previous work experience in Canada or abroad, you may be able to put this towards an Express Entry profile as well. However, work completed in Canada while studying full-time, while self-employed or while you did not have temporary resident status would not qualify.[15]

Depending on the program of study you have completed, you may also be eligible for certain provincial nominee programs. For instance, the Ontario Immigration Nominee Program (OINP) has Master’s and PhD graduate streams for those who have completed a Master’s or PhD program at an Ontario University; have resided in Ontario; and intend to reside in Ontario in the future[16].

There may be other options available to you based on your particular situation as well. For instance, if you would face a risk of persecution in your country of origin, or if you would face hardship in that country, you may be eligible for a refugee claim or an application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds[17].

You may wish to consult a lawyer to learn more about your options, and to discuss your eligibility for any of the above programs.

References

[1] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Work in Canada after you graduate: Who can apply”, 31 August 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/work/after-graduation/eligibility.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[2] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements”, 10 January 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/study-permits/post-graduation-work-permit-program/eligibility.html. Accessed 31 August 2022.

[3] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Work in Canada after you graduate: Who can apply”, 31 August 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/work/after-graduation/eligibility.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Work in Canada after you graduate: After you apply”, 18 May 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/work/after-graduation/after-you-apply.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[6] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Post-graduation work permit (PGWP) validity and application”, 16 December 2021, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/study-permits/post-graduation-work-permit-program/permit.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “New measures for foreign nationals with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits and applicants to the temporary resident to permanent resident pathways”, 2 August 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/measures-post-graduation-work-permits-temporary-resident-permanent-resident-pathways.html . Accessed 31 August 2022

[9] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment?”, 26 July 2022, https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?qnum=163&top=17. Accessed 31 August 2022.

[10] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Labour market impact assessment (LMIA) exemption codes – International Mobility Program”, 27 July 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/foreign-workers/exemption-codes.html. Accessed 31 August 2022.

[11] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Work and travel in Canada with International Experience Canada”, 9 March 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/iec.html. Accessed 31 August 2022.

[12] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “International Mobility Program (IMP): Canadian interests – Significant benefit – Mobilité Francophone [R205(a)] (exemption code C16)”, 27 May 2019, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/temporary-residents/foreign-workers/exemption-codes/canadian-interests-significant-benefit-mobilite-francophone-r205-exemption-code-c16.html.  Accessed 31 August 2022.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Eligibility to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry)” 7 January 2021, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/eligibility/canadian-experience-class.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, “Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)” 10 March 2022, https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-immigrant-nominee-program-oinp . Accessed 31 August 2022.

[17] Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Refugees and asylum” 3 December 2021, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees.html . Accessed 31 August 2022; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Humanitarian and compassionate grounds” 13 September 2017, https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/claim-protection-inside-canada/after-apply-next-steps/refusal-options/humanitarian-compassionate-grounds.html . Accessed 31 August 2022.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
219 Argyle Avenue, Suite 400
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 2H4
Tel: 613-729-3145
Fax: 613-729-9308