Canada’s Immigration Minister Plans to Implement Changes that Would Help International Students Obtain Permanent Residency
Last year’s Express Entry program was a mixed bag for immigration in Canada, and its effect on international students at Canadian colleges and universities has been particularly profound. This is in part because, for the last several years before the program had started in January of 2015, the Canadian Experience Class was working to make Canada a more attractive option for international students by opening up immigration channels intended to make permanent residency easier to attain after graduation. And for good reason—a person that has studied here has already put a lot of time and money into our country, knows one or both official languages, and is ready to enter the workforce, making them an objectively perfect candidate for residency. But after Express Entry was introduced, many students—even those applying with the help of immigration lawyers in Canada—have been finding it more difficult to obtain permanent resident status.
However, Canada’s new Immigration Minister, John McCallum, would like to see that change. According to him, we’ve been letting “the cream of the crop in terms of potential future Canadians” slip away, since the existing entry programs no longer favour students. This is because where students have had their own channels for immigration into Canada in the past—the Canadian Experience Class—in the new Express Entry system, they find themselves pooled together with other classes of immigrants, including the Federal Skilled Worker and Federal Skilled Trade Worker classes. Applicants from all of these classes will have their names drawn based on how well they meet the Express Entry criteria, and be given an Invitation to Apply (ITA). The program has seen some successes, particularly in fast-tracking the application process for those who are fortunate enough to be selected.
However, immigration lawyers in Canada have not been alone in noticing the marked shift in difficulty for international students hoping to apply. For them, Express Entry has become, at best, an added layer of beauracracy to work through. At worst, it’s been a death sentence for their hopes of becoming a permanent resident, since the chances of being selected from a pool of applicants from multiple classes is significantly lower.
If John McCallum and Citizenship and Immigration Canada make good on their decision to make permanent residency more attainable for international students again, the benefits could be felt not only by the students but by the country as a whole. Foreign students bring billions of dollars into our national economy while they study here, as well as diverse talents and skills. And for a student who has come to call Canada home during their studies, the chance to stay in our country and apply the skills they have learned here is often a wish come true.