One of Several Permanent Residence Options for Students

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International students now have more options than ever if they wish to apply for permanent residence in Canada. Depending on their circumstances, students may have access to the
Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Class or Provincial Nominee programs, and benefit from relatively fast processing times under each.

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC), initiated in September, 2008, is divided into the Post-Graduation Stream and the Temporary Foreign Worker Stream. The latter does not depend on Canadian studies and requires 24 months of work experience in Canada at a high skill level in the three years prior to applying, as well as language proficiency in either English or French.

Eligibility under the Post-Graduation Stream requires the completion of a program of study at least 2 years in length at an eligible post-secondary institution as well as 12 months of post-graduate work experience in Canada at a high skill level. Language proficiency in English or French is also required.

One of the primary advantages of the CEC over the more established Skilled Worker category is that the 12 months of required work experience need not be continuous. Under the CEC, the 12 months must have been accumulated within the 24 months prior to application, but breaks in continuity are accepted.

The CEC is not good news for everyone however. Work performed under the Off-Campus Work Permit Program or on a co-op work term does not count. Also, those who have acquired their educational credentials or work experience without valid authorization or while refugee claimants in Canada are not eligible. These individuals may still have access to the Skilled Worker Class and should seek legal advice.

As of February 20th, 2009, international students have access to yet another attractive option: the Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program. As a result of recent changes, the job offer required by international students no longer needs to be related to their field of study. International students who have studied full-time on a valid study permit and have completed a minimum two year credential at any eligible Canadian college or university can apply, so long as they have an approved full-time permanent job offer at a high skill level. It is up to the prospective employer to apply for approval.

As with the CEC, some students are left out. The applicant must demonstrate valid status, and once again refugee claimants are not eligible. Part-time studies do not qualify and skilled trade certificate or continuing education programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The obvious benefit to the Opportunities Ontario program is that qualified individuals can apply immediately after graduation, and by-pass the CEC requirement of acquiring one year of Canadian work experience.

International students are finally being recognized by our various levels of government as a highly valuable resource and are being provided with several permanent residence options. It is a good idea to assess each one carefully as there truly is a best choice for each student, depending on their individual circumstances.

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