International students who graduate in Canada might not have to leave the country before applying for permanent residence, according to new rules implemented by the federal government and announced by citizenship minister Diane Finley on August 12.
Temporary immigrants eligible for the new Canadian Experience Class will be able to apply for permanent residency while already living and working in Canada. It is a move by the government to increase the retention of skilled foreign workers after they land in Canada, and it applies to both graduating students and skilled workers already in country.
In order to qualify for the program, graduates will have to have completed at least two years of study at a Canadian university or college, have worked as a skilled, professional or technical worker in the country for at least a year, and have basic language skills (depending on their occupational skill level).
Temporary workers will have to have at least two years of skilled, professional or technical work experience to qualify.
Responding to the new rules, NDP MP and immigration critic Olivia Chow told the Globe and Mail that the new program is elitist and will leave out most temporary foreign workers already in Canada.
“They’re good enough to work here, but we don’t want them to become Canadian citizens,” she said. “That’s 90 per cent of the 165,000 temporary foreign workers who are working in Canada right now.”
In an editorial, the Edmonton Journal called the move “a necessary tool to keep Canada competitive with other potential immigrant destinations.”
The Journal warned, however, that “fast-tracking the likes of accountants, doctors, skilled tradesmen and engineers must not be an alternative to financing the education of training of more such people in Canada.”