International students wanting to stay in Canada after graduation will find it much easier after changes announced Monday by immigration and citizenship minister Diane Finley.
Students in eligible programs at post-secondary institutions will be able to apply for a work permit regardless of whether they have a job offer, and may stay for up to three years. Under the old scheme, international students could only apply for a work permit if they already had a job offer related to their field of study and the application was made within 90 days of graduation. International students are also no longer restricted to finding work in their specific field.
Under the changes students can work in any field across the country, whereas before they could work for a year in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, and an additional year if they worked in another part of the country. The changes are expected to increase the numbers of foreign skilled workers in Canada, as only 11,000 of the 64,000 applicants in Canada were issued work permits last year due to the stringency of the old system.
Changes to the work permit rules are part of previously announced changes by the minister to increase the numbers of skilled workers in the country. After a year working in a managerial, professional or technical position, international students with Canadian degrees and other foreign workers may seek permanent residence without first having to return to their home country.
To be eligible for a “post-graduate work permit” a student must have graduated from a program, at either a public university, college or CEGEP or a private institution that has been granted degree granting status by a provincial or territorial government. Eligible students are required to have been enrolled during the previous eight months, and if their total program is less than two years, they can only apply for a permit equivalent to the duration of their program.