Canada’s temporary foreign workers can now get training and education in programs that are more than six months long without having to worry about getting a study permit.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Tuesday a temporary measure that will be in place for three years to help foreign workers expand their future job prospects and increase their opportunities to transition to permanent residence.
Until now, temporary foreign workers could only study while working in programs of six months or less in duration and had to apply for a separate study permit for the longer programs.
“Temporary foreign workers are incredibly important for the Canadian economy and many have aspirations that go far beyond the work that initially brings them to Canada,” said Fraser.
“With this policy in place, we hope to empower foreign nationals to improve their skills in order to meet their career goals and achieve their dreams, while providing a future potential source of talent for our labour market.”
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The immigration minister hopes that by removing barriers to skills development, Canada will further open the door to foreign-trained doctors and nurses and support our healthcare system.
“We also provide a path for construction labourers to become tradespersons, and strengthen our communities and build new homes,” said Fraser. “This immigration measure helps employers, workers, and our economy by addressing critical labour shortages.”
The need for a study permit to enroll in longer programs has apparently been a barrier for those who wish to improve their education and receive more training, including those needing to upskill or validate their foreign credentials through certain programs.
With this new measure, foreign workers can study full-time or part-time while their work permits are valid or until the expiration of the policy, with no restrictions on the length of the program. The measure applies to those who hold a valid work permit or have a pending decision on their work permit extension on June 27, 2023.
Canadian work experience gained during a period of full-time study does not count toward eligibility for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), nor can students earn Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points for it.
But this temporary public policy could help more foreign nationals increase the likelihood that they receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry.
Candidates may be able to increase their CRS score by achieving a higher level of education or by gaining qualifying work experience during part-time studies. Further studies could also help candidates increase their CRS points by improving their French or English proficiency or by gaining experience in higher-skilled employment as a result of enhanced skills acquired through studies.
The extra help to temporary foreign workers comes as immigration experts are calling for more pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.
Expert Calls For More Pathways To Permanent Residency
“If there are particular occupations where there’s a real need and we’ve become dependent on temporary foreign workers. We should include them in a permanent system,” Naomi Alboim, a senior policy fellow at Toronto Metropolitan University and former deputy minister of immigration, reportedly told Canadian Manufacturing.
“At the end of the day, the demographics of the Canadian workforce mean that we have to work internationally.”
Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals there were 465,350 foreign nationals in the country who had gotten work permits through the International Mobility Program (IMP) last year.
Based on the first four months of this year, the IMP can be expected to close the year with an even higher number as there were 249,060 such foreign workers through the program by the end of April.
That puts the IMP, which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers on a Canada work permit without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), on track to end the year with 747,180 foreign workers coming to Canada through that program, if the trend continues.
There were also 135,760 foreign nationals working in Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) in 2022, a number that may be surpassed this year as 72,030 such workers had already come to Canada through the TFWP by the end of April, 2023.
That trend, if it continues, would see 216,090 temporary foreign workers through that program by the end of this year.
The IMP and TFWP together resulted in 601,110 temporary foreign workers in Canada last year.
Once a foreign national gets work experience in Canada, he or she can apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system’s Canada Experience Class Program (CEC) at the federal level or, if he or she is in Quebec, the Programme de l’Expérience Québécoise (PEQ) or Quebec Experience Class immigration program.