Last Updated On 9 November 2023, 9:57 AM EST (Toronto Time)
International students in Canada are now facing more difficulties than ever in getting Canadian permanent residency (PR) because of increased competition from outside Canada and the rise in the number of temporary residents inside the country.
Canada is aiming to grant permanent residency under the economic category to 883,635 primary applicants until 2026, as per the new immigration levels plan 2024-2026.
This includes highly skilled individuals from outside as well as inside Canada, including international students, so it is difficult to transition to PR for all.
Even immigration minister Marc Miller has been blunt, saying that being an international student does not guarantee Canadian permanent residency.
In a new plan to improve Canada’s immigration system announced by the IRCC Minister on October 31, the country is now exploring new approaches to align PR spots with labour market needs for international students.
This is in line with Global Affairs Canada’s International Education Strategy to better prepare international students for the workforce.
These approaches will include strengthening ties between students, post-secondary institutions, and employers and implementing work-integrated learning within the International Student Program.
The minister indicated that they are working on updating the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program to support essential industries with high-demand skills facing labour shortages.
This includes giving international students and work permit holders with in-demand talents more chances to remain in the country.
International students currently on Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) who have experience or are working in 82 key occupations targeted by the Express Entry system are already having a better shot at PR as compared to PGWP holders working in other occupations.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) and the Express Entry System are the two major ways to get PR.
Minister Miller has repeatedly indicated that they are working on alleviating the labour shortages in key sectors. This includes construction and healthcare.
Trades, tech, and healthcare are in-demand and targeted by all the Canadian provinces and the federal Express Entry system.
In addition to this, Canadian immigration is also targeting individuals with proficiency in the French language. French is a beautiful language and it is really interesting to learn.
So these are the key areas that international students can target to increase their chances of getting Canadian PR.
While the circumstances and profile of every individual are different, to align with current immigration programs, international students can work on one or more of the below-listed possibilities to improve their chances of getting PR.
Get into in-demand sectors
The first possibility is to get into skilled trades, tech, or healthcare sectors while pursuing studies.
Certification of skilled trades can get you 50 additional points in Express Entry, plus the cutoff score is comparatively lower than in general draws.
Furthermore, all of the Canadian provincial nominee programs (PNPs) are focusing on these sectors in their PR draws.
This is the least competitive pathway to permanent residency since most international students are reluctant to learn French.
However, learning French will fit you into Francophone immigration, which has the lowest points cutoff for PR in PNPs or Express Entry.
Under the new 2024–2026 Immigration Levels Plan, the targets for immigration by Francophones are set at 6% for 2024, 7% for 2025, and 8% for 2026.
Increase your education level by program stacking. International students who came to Canada for a 1-year diploma can enroll in another program after graduation to increase their Canadian education level.
Not only will this increase their points for PR, but it will also increase the duration of their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Always remember, you can get PGWP only once in your life.
So if you get a 4-year degree in healthcare or other in-demand sectors, then you will be legally able to stay for the duration of your study and get a PGWP of equal duration after that.
Meanwhile, you will have quite a higher chance of getting PR as compared to other international students who just completed a year of diploma and get just one year of PGWP.
Target Rural Immigration Programs
Rural immigration programs are one of the most underutilized by international students since most want to stay in big cities.
The IRCC is looking into ways to extend the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) to new towns and working on making the program permanent.
Furthermore, Alberta also has an attractive rural renewal stream offering PR options in more than 22 rural communities.
Similarly, other provinces also have rural or regional immigration streams that can help you get permanent residency.
Not everyone likes to move away from city life, but if you are serious about your PR, then you need to plan an approach that is less common.
Become an Entrepreneur
This option is not for everyone, but entrepreneurship is a seed that breaks all the barriers and grows against unprecedented conditions, defying things beyond imaginations.
So if you have an idea or entrepreneurial spirit, then work on achieving it and go for the start-up visa program that can help at least five international students get permanent residency.
This may sound attractive, but it is not as simple as it sounds. However, this is also a potential option to get Canadian permanent residency as well as settle for life.