With travel restrictions expected to remain in place for several months and international students continuing to study online from their home country, Canada announced new measures to ensure they won’t miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the pandemic. 

Minister Marco Mendicino said last week that foreign students who are studying online from their home country will still be eligible for work permits. Meaning students can complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). The latest measures apply to all international students who are  enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program;  began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020;  have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved. Students must meet all other PGWP criteria.

“Whether as health workers on the pandemic’s front lines, or as founders of some of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue the fight against the pandemic. Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting, said Mendicino. “This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow. Our message to international students and graduates is simple: We don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”

Canada has made significant efforts to encourage international students to settle permanently here. More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019, and their decisions to stay in Canada will help to address “our stark demographic challenges”, the government said.

This new policy is expected to help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology and more. 

Last month Mendocino said former international students who hold or held a PGWP can apply for an open work permit. These will be valid for 18 months and allow former international students to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment and build their future here.

To avail of this opportunity, applicants must have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date they apply. They must also still be in Canada, have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status. 

 

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