January 8, 2021—Ottawa—International students bring so much to Canada, contributing over $21 billion annually to our economy and supporting the vitality of our communities. Yet the pandemic has presented myriad challenges for international students. Most notably, for many holders of a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty have jeopardized their chances of obtaining the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.
As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to support international students through this challenging time, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit.
Foreign nationals in Canada affected by the pandemic with an expired or expiring PGWP will have a unique chance to apply for another open work permit. These will be valid for 18 months and allow former international students to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment and build their future in this country.
The government has made significant efforts to encourage international students to settle permanently in Canada, as they help create jobs and fill labour shortages so our businesses can thrive. They bring strong employment and language skills, bolstered by their Canadian education and work experience, so they are typically well positioned to apply for permanent resident status. More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019, and their decisions to stay in Canada will help to address our stark demographic challenges.
As we confront the pandemic’s second wave and chart a course for our recovery, attracting skilled immigrants is a central part of our plan. This new policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology and more. As we look forward, it will help even more former international students build their futures in Canada, contributing in ways large and small to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.
“Whether as nurses on the pandemic’s front lines, or as founders of some of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue the fight against the pandemic. Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting. This new policy means that young students from abroad who have studied here can stay and find work, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow. Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”
—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior. There are currently 3 Canadian workers for every retired Canadian, but by 2035, there will be only 2 workers for every retiree. Without immigrants to help support the needs of an aging population, younger Canadians will end up paying more per person to provide the same benefits.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada estimates that as many as 52,000 graduates with expired or expiring PGWPs could benefit from the public policy. Of nearly 61,000 PGWP holders whose work permit had an expiry date between January and December 2020, about half either have already become permanent residents or have a permanent residence application in processing.
To apply for an open work permit under the public policy, an applicant must
- have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date they apply
- still be in Canada
- have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status
Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021.
Details on how to apply will be added to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website on January 27, 2021.