International Graduates Say Canada And Germany Top OECD Countries For Immigration

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International Graduates Say Canada And Germany Top OECD Countries For Immigration
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Canada and Germany are the most popular countries in the OECD to immigrate to for international students.

“Five years after initial admission, more than 60 per cent of international students who obtained a permit for study reasons in 2015 were still present in Canada and Germany, around half in Australia, Estonia and New Zealand, and around two in five in France and Japan,” reveals an OECD report.

“The share of students remaining was below 15 per cent in Denmark, Slovenia Italy and Norway.”


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In its International Migration Outlook 2022, the organization which includes 38 member countries notes almost all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have put in place wide-ranging policies to retain international students upon graduation. 

But aside from Germany, none of the other countries have been as successful in retaining international graduates as Canada.

Through its Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), Canada gives international students the chance to work after graduation by granting a Canadian work permit for up to three years.

The PGWP is exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirements for graduates of a recognized post-secondary school, or a secondary school that offers qualifying programs, for at least eight months.


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Programs lasting between eight months and two years allow the graduate to get a PGWP lasting as long for the length of study. International graduates who studied for two years or more can qualify for a three-year permit.

Armed with that work experience, international graduates can then raise their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores when applying through the Express Entry system for permanent residence in Canada.

International graduates can apply for a PGWP provided they:

  • are 18 years old or older;
  • have continuously studied full-time in Canada in a program at least eight months long;
  • apply within 180 days of completing the program;
  • have completed and passed all their program requirements, and;
  • have graduated from one of the following:
  • a public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school or university, or CEGEP in Quebec;
  • a private post-secondary school which operates under the same rules as public schools;
  • a private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) which offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer, leading to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP), or a;
  • Canadian private school which can legally award degrees under provincial law but only if they are enrolled in a study program leading to a degree as authorized by the province.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada got top marks from international students for its flexibility in counting time spent studying remotely in their home countries as eligible towards the PGWP.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) began to accept these hours of study as eligible towards the PGWP in February last year to soften the blow of travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

Surveys Show Canada Remains A Top International Study Destination

Then, late last year, IRCC officials announced they would extend the qualifying period to include 100 per cent of online studies between March 2020 and Aug. 31, 2022.

Those measures and Ottawa’s handling of the pandemic have helped reassure international students that Canada is the destination of choice for them to pursue their studies, an IDP Connect poll revealed in September last year. 

The biggest chunk of the surveyed students in that poll wanted to study in Canada or Australia, followed by the United Kingdom, the United States and then New Zealand. 

Those results echoed those of Navitas’ survey of international students’ view of Canada’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian expert in international education trends revealed in its own survey that international students looking for a place to study abroad thought Canada had handled the global pandemic very well.

The OECD’s latest report highlights the importance of international students in helping the countries in which they study fill jobs.

“International students who remain in the host country post-study have long-term employment rates that are on par with those of labour migrants and well above those of migrants overall,” notes that report. 

International students make up seven per cent of those enrolled in bachelor’s programs, 17 per cent of those pursuing master’s degrees and 26 per cent of doctoral students in OECD countries. 

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