Significant changes to Canada’s immigration management system have made it more difficult for international post-graduates who graduated from Canadian universities to become permanent residents of Canada.
The Express Entry immigration selection system, which came into operation on January 1 of this year, requires candidates eligible for permanent resident status to make an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada. The government of Canada then invites certain individuals from this pool of candidates to apply for permanent residence using a points-based system.
A huge number of points — 600 out of a total of 1,200 — are allocated to individuals with a job offer from a Canadian employer or nomination from a Canadian province. In most cases, provincial nominations require the candidate to have a job offer. In order for the job offer to be valid for the purposes of Express Entry, the employer has to obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which serves as proof that there are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are ready, willing and able to fill the position.
The new system has repercussions for international students wishing to remain in Canada after their studies who, until recently, have typically followed a path to permanent residence that does not require their employer to obtain an LMIA. Most international students who graduate from a Canadian university are eligible for an open work permit up completion of their study program. This work permit may be issued for the duration that the program, up to a maximum of three years.
Many international students have used this period to gain experience in the Canadian labour market and, with at least one year of Canadian work experience, they may become eligible for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class. The difference between now and the period before Express Entry was launched is that eligible candidates used to be able to apply directly to the program; now, they must be selected from a pool of all candidates who have made an expression of interest in immigrating to Canada permanently.
Almost 300,000 international students were enrolled in Canadian postsecondary institutions last year, drawn partly by one of the most open systems of residence after graduation.