On January 8, 2021, the Government of Canada unveiled a ray of hope for former international students grappling with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a commendable move, The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a groundbreaking policy to assist Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders and those whose permits have expired.
The New Policy: Extending Opportunities
Former international students with an expired PGWP or one set to expire soon will now have the chance to apply for an open work permit. This new permit, valid for 18 months, allows these graduates to continue living and working in Canada, a testament to the government’s commitment to supporting foreign students in the face of global uncertainties.
Application Process: Key Points to Note
Starting from January 27 to July 27, 2021, eligible individuals can apply for the open work permit. To qualify, applicants must:
- Possess a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or have a PGWP valid for four months or less from the application date.
- Be currently residing in Canada.
- Hold a valid temporary status or be in the process of restoring their status.
Motivation Behind the Policy
This policy underscores Canada’s persistent efforts to encourage international students to make the country their permanent home. With a focus on attracting skilled immigrants, the Canadian government recognizes the valuable contributions that graduates bring, armed with a blend of strong employment and language skills, coupled with Canadian education and work experience.
In 2019, approximately 58,000 graduates applied to settle permanently, addressing Canada’s demographic challenges. By extending opportunities to former PGWP holders, Canada aims to bridge labor shortages, foster economic growth, and provide international graduates with a pathway to permanent residency.
Anticipated Impact and Results
Around 61,000 PGWP holders faced expiry between January and December 2020, with an estimated 52,000 graduates poised to benefit from the new open work permit. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) anticipates that this policy will not only aid graduates in securing permanent resident status but will also address critical needs in sectors such as healthcare and technology.
In a press release, IRCC stated, “The new policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology, and more.” This strategic approach aims to contribute to Canada’s short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.
Canada’s Commitment to International Students
By introducing this policy, Canada once again demonstrates its commitment to attracting and retaining international talent. The country’s agility in adapting policies to benefit international students reflects its dedication to providing a supportive environment, especially during challenging times.
The ongoing pandemic has posed numerous obstacles for international students, particularly for PGWP holders. The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have jeopardized the chances of gaining valuable Canadian work experience. However, with this new policy, Canada is offering a lifeline to former international students, enabling them to rebuild their careers and contribute to the nation’s growth.
Canada’s proactive measures not only address immediate challenges but also contribute to the nation’s long-term goals of economic recovery and prosperity. This policy stands as a testament to Canada’s resilience and commitment to fostering a diverse and skilled workforce, making it an increasingly appealing destination for international students.