Why Study in Canada?

How studying in Canada may help you obtain permanent residence

Are you interested in immigrating to Canada but don’t meet the requirements to do so?  Studying as an international student may be an option for you.

Eligibility for Permanent Residence

Studying does not automatically make you eligible for permanent residence in Canada, but they do improve your chances in at least two important ways.

First, studying in Canada may lead to you being authorized to work in Canada, and some immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class and some provincial nominee programs require Canadian work experience in a skilled occupation to be eligible to apply.  Obtaining a work permit upon graduation coupled with Canadian studies and support from your school’s career services may just help you land the work experience you need to be eligible to apply.  If your spouse works in Canada while you are studying, they may become eligible even before you do, or even while you are still studying.

Second, studying and working in Canada improve your chances of being invited to apply through the Express Entry system.  In order to apply for permanent residence under the three main economic categories (i.e. Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades), you must first receive an invitation to apply through the Express Entry system.  Invitations are issued depending on your point score, and studying and skilled work in Canada can both increase your score.  Your point score may also increase in other indirect ways, as studying may improve your highest level of education and improve your language test scores.

Work While Studying

As an international student, you can work up to 20 hours a week during your regular academic sessions, if you are a full-time student at an institution that has been authorized by Canadian immigration authorities to receive international students[1] and are completing a post-secondary program of six months or more that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate.

You can also work full-time in those same circumstances during any regularly scheduled breaks, such as winter break, reading week, and the summer holidays.  Since many post-secondary institutions in Canada break from May to August, this means that some students will be able to work full-time as much as four months a year.

In addition, full-time students can work on the campus of the university or college where they are studying without any limitation on their hours.

Working while studying is a great way to earn extra money, as well as to start gaining work experience to help you find a full-time permanent position once you graduate.

Work After Graduation

Many students who have studied a program of eight months or more at a public institution in Canada will be eligible to apply for a work permit upon graduation.  Known as a “Post-Graduate Work Permit”, it allows students to work in essentially any field or occupation, even those unrelated to their program of study.  Keep in mind though, that in most cases only skilled work will be considered as work experience for a permanent residence application.

The Post-Graduate Work Permit will usually be for the same duration as your program of study, but if your program of study was two years or longer, you can be eligible for a three-year work permit.

This is a great way to gain work experience in Canada, which can improve the likelihood that you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence to stay in Canada, as explained above.  As recent graduates, you will also usually have access to career services at your college or university that can help you land the job of your dreams.

Spouse and Children

Are you interested in studying, but don’t want to leave your spouse and children behind?  Fortunately, Canada has programs for them too.

If you are a full-time student at a public post-secondary institution in Canada, your spouse is eligible to apply for what is known as an “Open Spousal Work Permit.”  This work permits lets them work in essentially any occupation in any field in Canada, and for an unrestricted number of hours.  That way they can not only help support you financially, but also gain Canadian work experience that increases the chances of both of you becoming permanent residents.  Open Spousal Work Permits are available to married spouses and common-law partners, meaning that you have lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year or more.

You can also apply for study permits so your children can accompany you while you are in Canada.  Whether you will have to pay international student fees for your children as well as your family’s eligibility for publically-funded health care will vary from province to province across Canada.

Studying in Canada will not always lead to permanent residence and is not a good option for everyone.  If you are interested in studying in Canada or finding out more about applying for permanent residence, feel free to contact us today.

This post is for informational purposes only and is neither legal advice nor a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Immigration policies and programs change frequently, and so the information in this post may have changed since it was prepared on December 16, 2017.

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Aisling Bondy, B.A., LL.B. is the Principal of Bondy Immigration Law.