Pathways to Permanent Residency in Canada for International Students
Canada welcomes international students who want to eventually transition from being a visitor on a study permit to obtaining permanent residence status. There are a wide range of immigration programs at the federal and provincial levels that facilitate the immigration of international students.
Canada is a country formed and built by immigrants. Therefore, international students who are already residing in Canada, if they choose to stay after completing their studies, could be future contributors to advancing Canadian culture, arts, technology, business and the economy.
There are many immigration programs available for international students who have Canadian work experience on a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).
Many provincial and territorial governments have permanent residence immigration programs that favor applicants with a strong connection to a province by previously living and studying there, have relevant work experience gained there and a Canadian educational certificate.
After international students have completed their studies and have become graduates, they can choose to pursue permanent residency through immigration programs best suit their needs, experiences and decisions in a preferred province or territory.
What are the General Features of PR Pathways for International Students?
Every province in Canada offers its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to nominate foreign skilled workers for permanent residence. However, Ontario and British Columbia have the most popular PNP streams dedicated to international students.
International students can also opt for the Express Entry aligned PNP streams if they qualify for 1 of the 3 federal economic immigration programs:
- Federal Trades Worker Program (FTWP)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
Different PNP streams have different features that offer several opportunities for international students who want to immigrate.
Ontario offers 3 PNP streams especially for international students and only 1 of them requires a pre-arranged employment offer.
The most common requirement in many provincial streams is a valid PGWP. A PGWP authorizes international graduates to extend their stay period in Canada after graduation to gain Canadian work experience.
Also, all applicants must meet certain language proficiency requirements and demonstrate their intent to live and work in the province.
Which Pathways to PR are Available for International Students Following Their Studies?
The following pathways are available to international students who become graduates. The requirements for each program differ based on the province: *Click on the province that interests you
British Columbia: The British Columbia PNP operates its own PNP streams and offers a similar set of immigration streams aligned with the federal Express Entry system. Therefore, international graduates can apply through these 4 streams:
International Graduate (EEBC): This stream offers an immigration pathway for international graduates from designated learning institutions with a valid job offer.
International Post-Graduate (EEBC): This stream offers an immigration pathway for international graduates with a Master’s or PhD degree to qualify for permanent residency without a valid job offer. Applicants must graduate from a designated learning institution in British Columbia from an approved study program to qualify.
International Graduate (BC PNP): This stream is for international graduate students from designated learning institutions and a valid job offer for a skilled occupation from a designated employer in British Columbia. Your degree must be completed in the last 3 years before applying.
International Post-Graduate (BC PNP): This stream is for international students with a Master’s or PhD degree completed from an approved institution in British Columbia. Applicants must have completed their degree in the last 3 years before applying.
Ontario: The Ontario PNP offers the following immigration streams for international graduates:
International Graduate Streams (OINP): This stream offers immigration pathways for international graduates from designated learning institutions in Ontario. There are 2 substreams:
- Masters Graduate Stream
- Ph.D. Graduate Stream
You must apply within 2 years of completing your study program. You must also reside in Ontario for at least 1 year to qualify. If your application is successful, you will receive a provincial nomination to apply for permanent residence.
Manitoba: The Manitoba PNP offers the following streams for international graduates:
International Education Stream (MPNP): This stream offers immigration pathways for international graduates who wish to be employed in a skilled occupation or establish a business in the province of Manitoba.
There are 3 immigration substreams: *the information on these can be found in the link above
Career Employment Pathway (MPNP): This pathway is for international graduates with a valid work permit and a valid job offer for a skilled occupation.
Graduate Internship Pathway (MPNP): This pathway is for international graduates with a master’s or doctoral degree currently employed in the Mitacs Elevate or Accelerate internship.
International Student Entrepreneur Pilot (MPNP): This pilot is for international graduates who wish to establish a business and can meet the conditions of their Business Performance Agreement.
New Brunswick: The New Brunswick PNP has only 1 PNP stream for international graduates:
Post-Graduate Entrepreneurial Stream (NBPNP): This stream offers an immigration pathway for international graduates with a valid Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) that have an operational business in the province for at least 1 year.
Applicants must also have 100% ownership of the business and receive a salary that meets the Low-Income Cut-Off.
Nova Scotia: The Nova Scotia PNP offers the following immigration stream for international graduates:
International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream (NSNP): This stream is for international graduates from a Nova Scotia university or the Nova Scotia Community College with a valid PGWP. Applicants must own at least 33.33% of the business they are operating for at least 1 year to qualify.
Newfoundland and Labrador: The Newfoundland and Labrador PNP has the following immigration streams for international graduates:
International Graduate Category (NLPNP): This category is for recent international graduates who are either currently employed or have a valid job offer from a designated employer in the province. You must have graduated from a 2-year study program from an approved institution and have a valid Post- Graduate Work Permit at the time of application.
International Graduate Entrepreneur Category (NLPNP): this category is for international graduates from Memorial University or College of North Atlantic. International Graduates must have completed a 2-year study program and have a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit.