Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a new temporary measure aimed at alleviating Canada’s historic labour shortages. Fraser says this will potentially allow over 500,000 international students already in Canada to work more.
Between November 15th, 2022 and December 31st, 2023, international students in Canada who are allowed to work off-campus will not be restricted by the 20-hour-per-week rule. As of today, foreign nationals who have already submitted a study permit application will also benefit from this temporary change, provided their application is approved.
Before this change, international students were limited to working only 20 hours per week off-campus outside of scheduled breaks, such as winter and summer holidays.
This update will also apply to foreign students who have already submitted a study VISA application. They will also be eligible to get benefits from this policy if Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada approves their application.
But this change does not apply to every single international student in Canada during that time period, but rather to those who already have a study permit or submitted their application as of the day of the announcement, October 7th.
Even if your study permit application was submitted before October 7, 2022, if the application gets refused, you will not be able to benefit from this rule change even if a new application is approved. You would only be able to benefit from this change if you successfully filed for a Judicial Review of the refused application and the decision was overturned.
Increased Working Hours Does Not Impact Financial Requirements for a Study Permit.
It’s very important to keep in mind the minimum financial requirements that a student must meet to be issued a study permit:
(1 year of tuition + minimum 10,000 Canadian Dollars for most countries)
The opportunity to work more hours and earn more money does not have any impact whatsoever on the likelihood of approval of a study permit application – any money a student would make is meant to be used for “funny money” (discretionary spending like nights out, shopping, and coffee). This money is not taken into consideration when an officer is determining whether to approve or refuse a study permit application because the student and/or their financial supporters are expected to be able to meet this requirement without the student working at all while they are in Canada. Moreover, the student must meet these financial requirements WITHOUT working in Canada.
Submitting evidence of meeting only the minimum financial requirement for issuance of a study permit is likely to lead to a refusal of the study permit application.
Immigration Minister announced this major reform in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.
He explained that this update aims to alleviate the labour shortages experienced in Canada.
Canada is grappling with historic labour shortages and an unemployment rate which is the lowest by historical standards. Moreover, Statistics Canada reported that Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in September, down from 5.4 percent in August.
Currently, more than 500,000 international students are already in Canada, which is expected to rise significantly once study permit applications submitted on or before October 7th, 2022, are processed.
Canada has been battling a historic labour shortage, with nearly one million job vacancies spread across all industries. Simultaneously, the unemployment rate was at 5.2% in September, continuing a year with the lowest unemployment rate since the early 1970s.
With this unprecedented economic situation, it is highly beneficial for Canada to allow international students to work extended hours while international students also have the opportunity to bolster their Canadian work experience.
NOTE: Work experience gained as a student does NOT count toward meeting the minimum work experience eligibility requirement for PR under the Canadian Experience Class.
Currently, international students who apply to study in an eligible Canadian educational program are allowed to get authorized to work off-campus during their studies for up to 20 hours per week. This limit is removed during breaks such as the summer and winter holidays. This policy gives international students a chance to support themselves financially while seeking to ensure that they remain focused on completing their studies rather than being focused on working in Canada. Facing nearly one million job vacancies, however, has resulted in the Canadian government easing this rule for the time being.
Minister noted that this measure would allow over 500,000 eligible international students already in Canada to potentially work more hours.
Canada is one of the world’s leading destinations for international students. In 2021, it hosted over 620,000 international students, a figure which has tripled over the past two decades. Canada issued nearly 450,000 new study permits last year alone. Demand to study in Canada remains strong due to various factors, such as the quality of the country’s educational institutions, multiculturalism, affordability of the Canadian dollar, and the work and permanent residence opportunities that the country offers.
Immigration Minister also pointed out in his announcement that Canada has already processed more than 452,000 study permit applications between January and August of 2022, a 23 percent increase compared to the 367,000 processed over the same period in 2021. As such, Canada has already broken the record it set last year for study permits processed in a calendar year.
Most of the international students report they are interested in remaining in Canada as permanent residents upon completing their studies, according to research by the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
Statistics Canada research says that international students who go on to gain permanent residence tend to integrate quickly into the Canadian labour market due to factors such as their Canadian work and study experience, as well as English and/or French language proficiency.
This explains why Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers a host of measures aimed at helping international graduates work in Canada and remain here.
IRCC offers the popular Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP enables eligible international students to get an open work permit that has a validity period that corresponds with the length of their educational program in Canada. Open work permits allow foreign nationals to work for any employer of their choice in Canada. The maximum PGWP validity period is three years. PGWP holders can then gain the professional Canadian work experience they often need to become eligible for an economic-class immigration program. The most prominent immigration pathways offered by IRCC fall under the Express Entry system, with PGWP holders commonly pursuing permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program. Provinces and territories across Canada also reward international graduates with domestic work experience. Quebec and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams across the country offer permanent residence pathways to international graduates as a means of encouraging them to remain in the province or territory and continue to contribute to the labour market as immigrants.
Canada has increasingly looked to international students as a key source of permanent residents in recent years, especially during the pandemic. For instance, IRCC relied significantly on international graduates to achieve its target of landing over 405,000 new immigrants in 2021, breaking Canada's record for newly landed immigrants in a year. IRCC did this by inviting and landing large numbers of Canadian Experience Class candidates. In addition, it introduced a time-limited Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence (TR2PR) program in 2021 that enabled some 90,000 temporary residents to apply for immigration. Minister Fraser also has a mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to identify additional ways for international students and temporary foreign workers to gain permanent residence via Express Entry. In addition, Fraser tabled a strategy in September outlining how the government aims to help more temporary residents gain permanent residence. The strategy contains five pillars, such as modernizing the immigration system to improve application processing times. We will gain greater insights into the Canadian government's newcomer strategy when they table their new Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 by November 1st.
Additional information you should know
- A transition period for those studying online from abroad
- An opportunity for those with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits to get an additional 18-month open work permit.
Through the pandemic, measures have been in place to allow international students to pursue their studies online from abroad while remaining eligible for a post-graduation work permit. As the new school year approaches, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is creating a transition period for these measures. Following consultations with provinces, territories and education stakeholders, distance learning measures have been extended to August 31, 2023. But they are being reduced in scope.
As Canada transitions back to pre-pandemic requirements, we encourage international students to come back to Canada. A transition period is available for those who may need some time to do so.
International students studying online from abroad or who submit a study permit application no later than August 31, 2022, will continue to be able to complete up to 100% of their program online without affecting their PGWP eligibility.
The extension of temporary distance learning measures will affect those starting programs from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. Specifically, these measures will apply:
- No more than 50% of the credits earned can be completed outside Canada to remain eligible for a PGWP.
- Studies completed online from outside Canada starting on September 1, 2023, will be deducted from the length of a future PGWP.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is implementing measures for former international students with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits, and for temporary resident to permanent resident pathway applicants. These measures are building off the announcement made earlier this year.
Open work permits for individuals with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits
Foreign nationals whose post-graduation work permit expired or will expire from September 20, 2021, to December 31, 2022, will have the opportunity to work in Canada for an additional 18 months by either extending their work permit or applying for a new one. Those currently in Canada will also have the ability to work in the interim period while their permit is being extended or a new one is being issued.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are planning to submit a study VISA application or you want more information about how we can assist you with your college application process or just want some advice on where to start!
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