Its back to school time which means Canada is currently receiving a new influx of international students coming to study at the University, College or Secondary level. International students often wonder how they can extend their stay in Canada after they complete their studies. Since every student's case might be different, there isn't a defined permanent residency path for all students.
1. First step: apply for a post-graduate work permit
The first step you should take after completing your studies is applying for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP). This permit is an "open" work permit, which means it will give you the opportunity to work for any employer in Canada. Its Canada's way of rewarding students for completing their studies here. The Canadian work experience you gain while working may help you qualify for permanent residence.
If you're not eligible for a post-graduate work permit, you may still be eligible for an employer-specific work permit or "closed" work permit.
2. Second Step: Consider the pathways to Permanent Residency
For students who intend to live outside the province of Quebec, Express Entry is the best option to consider.Express Entry is Canada’s federal skilled worker selection program which selects the highest qualified candidates from a pool of applicants. Candidates who apply under the Express Entry program submit an application and wait to be invited to apply for permanent residency. Applicants are required to provide accurate information as well as documented proof to complete the profile.
If you graduated with a Canadian post-secondary degree, you are also entitled to additional bonus points (15 points for crendentials of 1 or 2 years and 30 points for credentials of 3 years and longer).
Programme de l'Expérience Québécoise
The "Programme de l'Expérience Québécoise (PEQ)" is a fast-track immigration stream which allows applicants to quickly obtain a "Certificat de Sélection du Québec (CSQ)" and apply for Canadian Permanent Residency.
The "Quebec Graduates" stream is currently closed until November 1st, 2019. However, an exception remains for applicants who's work permit expires before November 1st, 2019.
The "Workers" stream is still open, which means candidates can apply to the PEQ if they have acquired 12 months of full-time work experience in Quebec in the last 24 months.
All candidates applying to the PEQ have to demonstrate oral skills in french (speaking and listening) at an intermediate-advanced level (B2).
3. Canadian Work Experience
Canadian work experience is the key factor in obtaining permanent residence for foreign students in Canada. Unless you previously had a post-secondary degree and qualify for Express Entry, your chances are much stronger after you work in Canada for a year. Therefore, this is why the post-graduate work permit is so important for a student's path to Canadian permanent residency.
Once you have 1 year of Canadian Work Experience, you will even qualify for the Canadian Experience Class in the Express Entry program.
4. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)
Some provinces favor international students that graduated from an eligible post-secondary institution in Canada and are looking to settle permanently. For example, there are international student streams in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) as well as the British-Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP). These provincial nominee programs will select applicants who have graduated from a post-secondary program in their province and nominate them for permanent residency. Once the PNP application is approved, the candidate will receive an additional 600 points in their express entry application and thus guarantee them to be selected in the next Express Entry draw.