Canada to let international students stay longer to patch labour shortage

Apr 23 2022, 6:40 pm

In an attempt to address Canada’s labour shortage, the federal government announced on April 22 that former international students with a post-graduation work permit expiring between January and December 2022 will qualify for an additional open work permit of up to 18 months.

By allowing them to stay longer, the government hopes they will gain work experience and up their chances of qualifying for permanent residency, encouraging them to join the workforce for good.

Plus, skilled international students nearing the end of their post-graduation work permits are already well-integrated into Canada’s labour market, which makes them prime candidates for helping repair the shortage in the country.

Invitations for candidates to apply for permanent residence will begin in early July.

Upcoming changes

The government also made some broader changes that will impact immigration and labour.

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said in a statement Express Entry draws will soon resume too.

“Express Entry is Canada’s flagship application management system for those seeking to immigrate permanently through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the Canadian experience class and a portion of the Provincial Nominee Program,” the statement said.

“With the economy growing faster than employers can hire new workers, Canada needs to look at every option so that we have the skills and labour needed to fuel our growth,” said Fraser.

“Immigration will be crucial to easing our labour shortage, and these measures aim to address pressing needs in all sectors across the country, while providing more opportunities for recent graduates and other applicants to build their lives in Canada and continue contributing to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.”

He also announced applicants who can apply for an open work permit while waiting for their permanent residence application to be finalized will be able to get permits validated until the end of 2024.

This way, their applications can be finalized before they need to extend their temporary statuses.

In addition, “to support family reunification, immediate family members who are outside Canada and who were included in a principal applicant’s permanent residence application will be eligible for their own open work permit.”

The period for foreign nationals visiting Canada to apply for employer-specific work permits without leaving the country was extended to February 28, 2023.

Fraser also announced new measures for those who applied for permanent residence through the temporary resident to permanent resident pathway last year.

“The limited-time pathway was launched in 2021 to invite a broad range of individuals already working in Canada to apply to stay permanently,” his statement said.

“While closed to new applications since November 2021, the processing of applications will continue for some time.”

Context for the shortage

Canada’s labour shortage was caused in part by the pandemic, which has left “hundreds of thousands of vacant positions in all sectors across the country,” the statement says.

The government made these decisions after Canada set an all-time record for immigration across the country.

And the situation was only worsened by travel restrictions throughout 2020 and 2021 that delayed the processing of overseas applications.

Overall, the federal high-skilled processing inventory has been cut by more than half, decreasing from approximately 111,900 people in September 2021 to just 48,000 people by March 2022.

In 2021, more than 157,000 former students became permanent residents in Canada, and more than 88,000 transitioned straight from post-graduation work permits to permanent status.

The government is exploring a simplified, faster process for carrying this work out, with details expected over the coming weeks.

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