Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has announced a new temporary measure aimed at helping Canada’s historic labor shortage. Fraser says this will allow more than 500,000 international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.

From November 15, 2022 to December 31, 2023, international students who are in Canada and have off-campus work authorization on their study permit will be able to work more than 20 hours per week off-campus while the class is in session.

This temporary measure will also apply to foreigners who have already submitted a study permit application as of today. They will also be able to benefit from this policy if Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada approves their application.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced this important reform this morning in Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

Fraser explained that this measure is aimed at alleviating the labor shortage that is being experienced throughout Canada.

Canada is dealing with a historic labor shortage and an unemployment rate that is low by historical standards. This morning, Statistics Canada reported that Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in September, down from 5.4 percent in August.

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Canadian Educational Program

Currently, international students applying to study in an eligible Canadian educational program may be authorized to work off-campus during their studies for up to 20 hours per week. This limit is removed during scheduled breaks, such as summer and winter vacations.

This policy allows international students to financially support themselves while ensuring that they remain focused on completing their studies rather than concentrating on working in Canada. However, facing nearly a million job vacancies has resulted in the Canadian government relaxing this rule for the time being.

Fraser noted that this move will allow more than 500,000 eligible international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.

Canada is among the world’s top destinations for international students. In 2021, it welcomed more than 620,000 international students, a number that has tripled in the last two decades. Canada issued nearly 450,000 new study permits last year alone. The demand to study in Canada remains strong due to several factors, such as the quality of the country’s educational institutions, multiculturalism, the affordability of the Canadian dollar, and the opportunities for work and permanent residence that the country offers.

Canada Study Permit Applications

  • Fraser also noted in today’s announcement that Canada has already processed more than 452,000 study permit applications between January and August 2022, an increase of 23% compared to the 367,000 processed during the same period in 2021. As such, Canada has already broken the record it set last year for study permits processed in a calendar year.
  • Most international students report that they are interested in staying in Canada as permanent residents upon completion of their studies, according to research by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE).
  • Research from Statistics Canada shows that international students who obtain permanent residence tend to integrate quickly into the Canadian labor market due to factors such as their Canadian work and study experience, as well as English and/or French language proficiency.
  • This explains why Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers a number of measures intended to help international graduates work in Canada and stay here.
  • IRCC offers the popular Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP allows eligible international students to obtain an open work permit that has a validity period that corresponds to the duration of their educational program in Canada. Open work permits allow foreign nationals to work for any employer of their choice in Canada.
  • The maximum validity period of the PGWP is three years. PGWP holders can gain the professional Canadian work experience they often need to be eligible for an economic class immigration program. The most prominent immigration pathways offered by IRCC fall under the Express Entry system, with PGWP holders commonly seeking permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.
  • Canada’s provinces and territories also reward international graduates with domestic work experience. Quebec and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams across the country offer permanent residency pathways to international graduates as a means of encouraging them to remain in the province or territory and continue to contribute to the labor market as immigrants.

Canada has increasingly viewed international students as a key source of permanent residents in recent years, especially during the pandemic. For example, IRCC relied heavily on international graduates to achieve its goal of welcoming more than 405,000 new immigrants in 2021, breaking Canada’s record for most recent immigrants in one year. IRCC did this by inviting and recruiting a large number of candidates from the Canadian Experience Class. In addition, it introduced a temporary residence to permanent residence (TR2PR) program for a limited time in 2021 that allowed some 90,000 temporary residents to apply for immigration.

Immigration Levels Plan

Minister Fraser also has a mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to identify additional ways for international students and temporary foreign workers to obtain permanent residence through Express Entry. In addition, Fraser presented a strategy in September outlining how the government intends to help more temporary residents gain permanent residency. The strategy contains five pillars, such as modernizing the immigration system to improve application processing times. We will learn more about the Canadian government’s newcomer strategy when they release their new Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 by November 1.

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