If you are an international student or graduate in Canada, you are highly educated, likely to speak and understand English or French to a high standard, and have already proven that you are capable of fitting into Canadian life. For these reasons, Canada wants you to immigrate permanently. Here is an overview of your options for permanent residence in Canada for international students and graduates, from federal programs to provincial programs to family sponsorship.
Permanent residence in Canada for international students and graduates: Express Entry
You may have heard about Express Entry, Canada’s main economic immigration system.
Since Express Entry was introduced in 2015, the current Liberal government has tweaked Express Entry to give bonus points to international graduates, ensuring that more of them are invited to apply for permanent residence. The proportion of former international students invited to apply increased significantly between 2015 and 2016 from 26 percent to 35 percent, a figure that held steady through 2017.
Before being eligible to be invited, however, you have to be eligible for any of three federal economic immigration programs and enter the Express Entry pool, where you are assigned a score under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The government then invites the top-ranked candidates in the pool to submit an application, in draws that typically take place every couple of weeks. You then have 60 days to submit a complete application, whereupon the government aims to complete the process within six months. Express Entry favours young candidates with Canadian work and study experience and language ability, giving students and graduates in Canada an excellent chance of obtaining permanent residence.
Let’s look at those programs managed under Express Entry in more detail.
Canadian Experience Class
If you’re looking for a standard route to permanent residence in Canada for international students and graduates — a route already traveled by many of your peers — look no further than the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), an immigration program that allows individuals who have worked in Canada for at least one year to immigrate permanently.
After graduating in Canada and getting a post-graduation work permit, knuckle down and complete a year of skilled work, prove your language ability through a recognised test, and enter the Express Entry pool. If you don’t have enough CRS points to get invitation to apply soon after, see our tips on improving your CRS score.
Federal Skilled Worker Class
Another way to enter the Express Entry pool is as a federal skilled worker. This may be the route for you if you haven’t managed to complete a year of skilled work in Canada, but have done so abroad. Essentially, you have to score at least 67 points on a grid that assesses age, language ability, work experience, whether or not you have a job offer in Canada, and certain adaptability factors, one of which is previous study in Canada.
There is also a third Express Entry program, the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) for qualified tradespersons.
Permanent residence in Canada for international students and graduates: Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)
Like the federal government, Canada’s provinces also want international students and graduates to stay. If Express Entry is not an option for you now or in the near future, or if you are struggling to meet the CRS cut-off thresholds in Express Entry draws, you should consider the PNPs.
- We track all PNP streams so you don’t have to. Bookmark our Canada PNP Live Tracker and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.
When thinking about permanent residence in Canada for international students and graduates through the PNPs, please consider not only the province you graduated in, but also the province you want to live and work in. Some provinces may allow you to apply even if you graduated in another province, while others restrict applications to those who graduated in that particular province.