How does the Education + Immigration formula to Canada really work?
What is it that drives people around the world to look for education outside their home country? International Education mobility statistics clearly reflect motivations. The usual suspects: an institution’s quality and reputation, full immersion in a foreign culture and language, prestige that comes with an international qualification on a CV, and, in some cases, the chance to obtain a work permit and gain foreign work experience.
Among the main International Education destinations, one country stands out due to the fact that it checks all the boxes on the list of the mindful international student in addition to providing the life changing opportunity of Permanent Residency, and, later on, Citizenship.
This country is Canada.
The results of the 2018 Canadian Bureau for International Education survey show that 60% of international students in Canada have the intention to apply for permanent resident status. Now, is studying in Canada a guarantee of Permanent Residency? No, it is not. Instead, the Canadian immigration system attracts skilled workers and trades ranked based on their age, language ability, education, and work experience.
Now, is studying in Canada a guarantee of Permanent Residency? No, it is not.
So, how does the Education + Immigration formula to Canada really work?
International students are granted the privilege of three benefits, provided that the chosen institution and program are eligible. First, they are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the regular academic calendar, and full-time during scheduled breaks. Secondly, they can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit that is equivalent in duration to the length of the program they have completed; to a maximum of 3 years for academic programs greater than 2 years in duration. Finally, they are allowed to bring their spouses or common-law partners under an Open Work Permit.
The Canadian labour market is then wide open for international students and their spouses or partners to step into. The key to successful transition to Permanent Residency is in the Canadian experience acquired. For some, that experience would be enough to ramp up their profiles and rank highly enough to apply directly through an Express Entry Federal program. For others, an extra "push" from a province (Provincial Nomination) would be needed to propel their applications.
“The Canadian labour market is then wide open for international students and their spouses or partners to step into. ”
According to a study by Statistics Canada, released on December 2015, Insights on Canadian Society: International students who become permanent residents in Canada, 27% of international students became permanent residents in the 10 years following the receipt of their first study permit. Only 27%; a surprisingly low percentage.
What did the remaining 73% miss?
If Canadian work experience and a Provincial Nomination is what really boost the chances of obtaining Permanent Residency, academic program selection and provincial destination are fundamental to a successful Education + Immigration strategy. Considerations on labour market and on the demand for specific occupations in the chosen province need to be made.
When planning as a family, both the principal applicant and partner profiles need to be weighted, and who will be studying and who will be on an Open Work Permit needs to be carefully determined. Plans A, B and C should be laid out in advance to account for the implied uncertainties of the process. Needless to say, compliance rules and eligibility factors for all temporary documents (i.e., study permit, post-graduation work permit, and spousal work permit) should be understood in order to avoid any surprises on the process. It’s likely the remaining 73% missed something in this list.
“... academic program selection and provincial destination are fundamental to a successful Education + Immigration strategy.”
It is worth mentioning that some candidates qualify for Permanent Residency from outside of Canada, and no additional strategy involving education is needed. However, the 2015 Statistics Canada study also shows that landed immigrants who first arrive in Canada as international students have some advantages over other immigrants, including having educational qualifications easily understood by potential employers, and social networks that facilitate job searches. On the same topic, Canadian qualifications speed up licensure process for regulated professions including but not limited to Engineering and Accounting.
“... landed immigrants who first arrive in Canada as international students have some advantages over other immigrants...”
The conclusive truth.
Canadian education, itself, is worth the time and monetary investment involved with international education. However, if immigration to a wonderful, kind, and generous country is concurrently being considered for the prospective international student, it is crucial to plan accordingly, from the outset. Good planning is the key to achieving the final goal and to the efficiency with which this goal is achieved.