The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) announced that current and former international students are organizing a weekend of demonstrations in Toronto and Mississauga to call for changes to immigration rules to recover from COVID-19. 

International student tuition fees have increased dramatically during COVID-19 even as students and their families have lost work and wages and classes have shifted online, said the MWAC media statement. International graduates on time-restricted work permits are required to complete 12-24 months of continuous high waged work to qualify for permanent resident status. However, with unemployment for racialized workers at 17%, most graduates do not have access to these jobs. Work permits remain non-renewable despite the impact of COVID-19 on the job market, meaning that thousands face deportation in the near future because they cannot fulfill requirements. Access to healthcare for former students, even during COVID-19, is tied to having a full-time job, and most students cannot access emergency supports, according to the MWAC news release. 

MWAC says, over 14,000 people have signed two petitions calling for changes in immigration policy now.

Migrant students are calling on the federal and provincial government to:

  • Make post-graduate work permits renewable so former students can complete requirements for Permanent Residency (PR) in the COVID-19 job market 
  • Provide real access to PR by lowering points requirements and counting part-time, non-continuous, in-school work towards PR. Provide full and permanent immigration status for all migrants  
  • Lower tuition and provide full access to services including healthcare, housing, jobs, scholarships and emergency income supports 
  • Unite families and ensure work permits for family members

Demonstrations details are as follows: 

  • Toronto – Saturday, September 12, 2:45pm at Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office, 344 Bloor Street West
  • Mississauga – Sunday, September 13, 2pm  at Westwood Square Mall, 7205 Goreway Drive

There were 572,000 new study permits and 98,470 new post graduate work permits issued in 2019. Many of these permit holders remain in Canada for several years, MWAC said in the media statement. 


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