The opportunities for students to work and live in Canada have grown dramatically in recent years. In September, 2008, the Minister of Immigration announced the creation of the new Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which allows for students who have studied for 2 years in Canada and then obtained one year of further work experience to be eligible to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. On July, 2015, the CEC stream became part of the new “Express Entry” immigrant selection program.

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Canadian Immigration Programs for Students

Many Provinces also have Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), which allow for students who obtain an offer of employment from a Canadian employer to apply for permanent residence through their Provincial Nominee categories. In many of these programs, previous work experience is not necessary to obtain permanent residence status, as long as they obtain a permanent job offer after graduation. Initially these programs were only open to students who obtained their education in a specific province however now; many provinces are accepting student PNP applicants from across Canada. As of Jan 1, 2015, PNP Programs have become part of the new “Express Entry” immigration selection program.

Graduate students also have opportunities to become permanent residents through both federal and provincial PNP programs. For many Masters and PhD students, they can apply for permanent residence without the need for a job offer from an employer.

As of June 1, 2014, a student who is attending full-time studies at one of our public Universities or Colleges or recognized private institutions, is able to work without a work permit for up to 20 hours per week while pursuing their studies on a full time basis.

After graduating, students are also eligible for a post-graduate work permit from between one to three years, depending on their length of study in Canada. This work experience often allows them to qualify for permanent residence under the CEC class or will often lead to a permanent offer of employment from an employer so that they can meet the criteria of the PNP program.

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International Students in Canada

International students not only enrich our Canadian educational facilities but they adapt well as new immigrants to Canada. The new programs for working both during and after your studies without a work permit as well as for obtaining permanent residence demonstrates Canada’s recognition of the value of international students. Studying in Canada is an excellent approach to obtaining both work experience and immigration to Canada.

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Catherine Sas with international students at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC.

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