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How to go from a Canadian study permit to Canadian permanent residence

How to go from a Canadian study permit to Canadian permanent residence

International students studying in Canada can apply for permanent resident status while studying in Canada or after graduating from their study program.

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

There are several options for international students wishing to become permanent residents in Canada, provided they meet the requirements and eligibility of the program they are applying for.

International students are not guaranteed permanent residence after completing their studies in Canada. However, they can improve their chances by preparing in advance and learning about what it takes to be eligible for different immigration routes.

Canada offers international students several pathways to permanent residence because research has shown that people who receive an education in Canada are more likely to succeed in the Canadian job market. These students are seen as a promising group of skilled individuals who can be used to meet the labor market needs in Canada. In addition, Canadian employers value the local education and work experience that international students gain in Canada.

After completing studies in Canada, many international students apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP provides international students with an open work permit that enables them to work almost anywhere in Canada and for almost any employer.

Students may be eligible for the PGWP if they:

  • Have completed at least eight months of study in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is on an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI) list. The program of study must result in a degree, diploma or certificate
  • Have full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the program or programs of study and included as part of the postgraduate work permit application
  • Received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their study program

The advantage of the PGWP is that it enables international students to gain work experience in Canada, which makes them eligible for permanent residence and makes them more competitive candidates for Canadian immigration, as many routes reward candidates with work experience in Canada.

Express Entry

Express Entry is an application management system that manages three federal skilled worker immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

CEC is a path to permanent residence for candidates who have worked in Canada. It is a popular option for international students who have gone to Canada to gain work experience.

To be eligible for CEC, a candidate must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Have gained at least one year of skilled, professional or technical work experience in Canada within 36 months prior to the date of application; and
  • Meet or surpass the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 (“early intermediate”) for NOC TEER category 2 or 3 jobs, or meet or surpass CLB 7 (“adequate intermediate proficiency”) for NOC TEER category 0 or 1 jobs.
  • Planning to live and work outside the province of Quebec (individuals with work experience in Quebec and who plan to live in Quebec can apply for the Quebec Experience Class).

If you are eligible for a program, you can upload a profile to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. Candidates receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on factors such as age, education, work experience and language skills. Those with the highest scores are invited to apply for permanent residence.

Candidates who have completed a study program in Canada or have work experience in Canada receive more CRS points, which increases their chances of obtaining permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Nearly every province and territory in Canada operates a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The PNP allows provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and are interested in settling in a particular province.

Several PNP streams reward candidates who have studied and worked in Canada.

Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)

A candidate who studied in Quebec and wants to settle permanently in the province may be eligible for immigration under the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ). The PEQ offers foreign graduates and individuals with work experience in Quebec a faster way to obtain a Quebec Selection Certificate (QSC), a mandatory step towards permanent residence granted by the federal government.

International students who have studied in Quebec may be eligible to apply for the CSQ under the PEQ if they:

  • Demonstrate an intention to settle in Quebec to take up a job;
  • have resided temporarily in Quebec for the purpose of study;
  • have obtained, within the past 36 months, an eligible degree or diploma from an educational institution recognized by the Quebec Ministry of Education;
  • Have studied at least 1,800 hours (two years) in Quebec
  • Have a Masters, Bachelor or DEC Diploma and have 12 months of work experience in a 0, A, B level job and have such a job at the time of application
  • Hold a DEP and have 18 months of work experience in a Level 0, A, B or C job and be required to be in such a job at the time of application. Please note that the C level work must be degree-related.

Candidates must also demonstrate that they have the level of proficiency in the French language to qualify for the PEQ.

Other Permanent Residence Pathway Options

The Atlantic Immigration Program is an option for students who have studied in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador.

Similarly, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program offers permanent residence to international students living in rural and northern communities in Canada.

Another option is for Hong Kong residents, as Canada offers two permanent residence pathways for Hong Kong residents who have studied in Canada.

Know if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

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