Plenty of Ways For International Graduates to Seek Canada Permanent Residence

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Plenty of Ways For International Graduates to Seek Canada Permanent Residence
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International graduates who missed the deadline under Ottawa’s pathway to permanent residency still have a lot of options if they want to stay in Canada.

Last week, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) started accepting applications for permanent residency under six new streams, including two for international graduates already in Canada. 

One of those new streams for international graduates was for francophones outside of Quebec. There is no cap on the number of applications under that stream.


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The other stream for international graduates was open to both anglophones and francophones and had a cap of 40,000 applications.

Within 25 hours, it maxed out. 

So far, immigration officials have kept mum on what will happen to spots under that stream when some applications are rejected – although those spots could then become available for new applicants. 

Given Ottawa’s bullish stance on immigration, IRCC could also increase the cap on applications under that stream to allow more international graduates to stay in Canada.

Until either of those two things happen, though, the best bet for international graduates hoping to gain permanent residency to stay and work in Canada is to apply through the many other programs already in existence.

The first step for international graduates who want to apply for permanent residence is to go through the federal Express Entry system and see how many points the system gives their application.

Then, the international graduate needs to determine where he or she wants to live in Canada and under what programs he or she can apply. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, two particular regions stand out as being particularly attractive for international graduates worried about coming into contact with the coronavirus.

The northern territory of the Yukon, with its high COVID-19 vaccination rate and low population density, currently doesn’t have even a single case of COVID-19. 

Although not COVID-19-free, the Atlantic Canadian provinces have so far suffered much less during the pandemic with fewer cases. The region’s employer-driven Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) has a specific stream for international graduates. 

Under the AIP, international graduates must:

  • have a degree, diploma or other credential from a publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic province;
  • have lived in an Atlantic Canadian province for at least 16 months in the two years before getting that degree, diploma or credential;
  • take a language test to show they can communicate in English or French, and;
  • show they can support themselves and their families when they come to Canada.

As Canada’s most-populous province, Ontario has often been called Canada’s economic engine and offers many opportunities for recent international graduates. 

Under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP), international graduates with a job offer in a skilled occupation at skill type 0, A or B through the National Occupational Classification (NOC) can apply for permanent residence in that province.

Ontario also has two streams that do not require a job offer for international students with masters and doctoral degrees.  Under both the Masters Graduate Stream and the PhD Graduate Stream international graduates with the appropriate degree from an Ontario university can apply for permanent residence through the Expression of Interest system.

In the neighbouring province of Quebec, Canada’s only francophone province, international graduates can apply for permanent residence through the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ – Québec experience program). 

The PEQ allows adult international graduates to get a Quebec selection certificate to settle in Quebec permanently provided they:

  • have knowledge of oral French equivalent to Level 7 on the Échelle québécoise des niveaux de compétence en français des personnes immigrantes adultes;
  • are in Quebec at the time of application;
  • have stayed in Québec for at least half of the duration of their studies;
  • demonstrate financial self-sufficiency, and;
  • have obtained an eligible diploma and eligible work experience after completing their studies.

On Canada’s West Coast, the province of British Columbia offers a pathway to permanent residence for international graduates through BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP). 

Under that stream, graduates can apply for permanent residence provided they graduated from a Canadian university or college within the last three years, got a job seeker code through the Express Entry system, and have accepted a full-time job with an NOC code of 0, A or B from an employer in that province. They also have to be eligible for immigration and meet the minimum language requirements.

On the other side of the country, in Nova Scotia, international graduates can apply for permanent residency under four streams. In addition to the AIP, international graduates who have landed jobs can also apply through the Skilled Worker stream to get their permanent residency. 

But there are two other streams through which international graduates can gain permanent residency in that Maritime province. There is also the Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry for those with at least one year of experience in a high-skill occupation and the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream for those who have already started or bought a Nova Scotia business and operated it for at least a year. 

Next door to that province, sitting in the Atlantic Ocean, is Newfoundland and Labrador which offers permanent residency to international graduates who already have a Post-Graduation Work Permit and a job or job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer.

In the Canadian Prairies, all the provinces also have their own pathways through which international graduates can seek permanent residency.

In oil-producing Alberta at the foothills of the Rockies, the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS) is for temporary foreign workers who are already working full-time in the province and have a full-time job offer from an Alberta employer in an eligible occupation. 

Saskatchewan offers up two main pathways to permanent residency for international graduates. 

For those who are either looking to set up a business or have already bought or started one, the province provides the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream through the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program.  The province also offers up the International Skilled Worker stream through the Saskatchewan Express Entry system.

Smack in the middle of the country, Manitoba offers international graduates three pathways to permanent residency.

Under the Manitoba Work Experience pathway of the Skilled Worker in Manitoba stream, international graduates can seek out permanent residency provided they:

  • have been working in an occupation on Manitoba’s published In-demand Occupations list for a minimum of six months in Manitoba, even if the job is not necessarily related to their field of study, or;
  • if they are out-of-province graduates and have been working in such jobs for a minimum of 12 months in Manitoba, or;
  • are Manitoba graduates in occupations not on Manitoba’s published In-demand Occupations list but they have been working a minimum of 12 months in the province.

Graduates with masters and doctoral degrees in Manitoba can also complete Accelerate or Elevate internships with Mitacs in Manitoba and so qualify to apply immediately for permanent residence through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. 

Every year, Manitoba gives up to 20 international students who have graduated from Manitoba institutions the opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship through the International Student Entrepreneur Pilot. After the grad has met the conditions of their business performance agreement, they are then nominated for permanent residence. 

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