Human resources managers and foreign students alike were thrilled last week to learn of dramatic improvements to Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.
These changes signal the charting of a whole new course for the way Canada will be selecting professional immigrants in the years to come.
Since 1967, Canada has been selecting foreign “skilled workers” on the basis of a point system that attempted to determine if the candidate was likely to be successfully established in Canada. The system was speculative at best and produced immigrants whose foreign education was often not recognized here and whose work experience abroad was not always valued.
An obvious source of young and promising immigrants was the body of foreign students who were studying in Canadian colleges and universities. They were allowed to work in Canada for a year (or two in certain areas) after their graduation so they could acquire some study-related work experience. One year of work experience is an essential requirement of our skilled worker program. Once these graduates acquired this experience, they often had to return home since it was often difficult for them to have their work permits extended in Canada for long enough to allow their applications for permanent residence to be finalized overseas. Knowing that these young people may have to leave them in a year, Canadian employers sometimes refused to hire them, did so reluctantly, or resisted investing a lot of time in them.
Many graduates who could not extend their status here returned to their home countries and re-established themselves there and never bothered to return. In letting them do so, we opted for foreign professionals with foreign degrees and foreign experience who only might be able to make it in Canada while turning our backs on young foreign graduates who had Canadian credentials, Canadian experience, and who were, in effect, a sure bet.
Last week, Immigration Minister Diane Finley announced that, effective immediately, those students who complete a Canadian program of study of at least two years at a qualifying post-secondary institution can qualify to work in Canada for up to three years.
They will be permitted to work in any field and will no longer be restricted to their field of study. Also, they won’t need a job offer to secure a work permit.
The ramifications of these changes will be profound.
Firstly, these changes will make Canadian universities and colleges far more attractive to foreign students.
Foreign students pay much higher tuition fees in Canada than local students, thereby reducing the tuition burden on our own children.
Secondly, Canadian businesses can now feel much more confident in hiring these graduates since it is much more likely that their employees will be able complete their applications for permanent residence without having to leave their employment.
Finally, Canada will have an immigration system whereby we can actually “test drive” the candidate before accepting them as permanent residents here.
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work permits for graduates extended
Human resources managers and foreign students alike were thrilled lastweek to learn of dramatic improvements to Canada’s Post-Graduation WorkPermit Program.