Canada has made a name for itself as one of the top choices for overseas students looking for a top-notch education and a bright future.

The variety of options accessible to graduates who want to transition from temporary student status to permanent residency.

So far, even study permits are being actively marketed around the globe as a way of entering Canada and finally transitioning to permanent residence.

After graduating from Canadian educational institutions, international students have a variety of alternatives for permanent residency, some of which we will discuss in this article.

International students often transition to an open work permit after completing their studies if they meet the criteria of graduating from a study program that is eligible for PGWP.

Recently, Canadian government made some changes to PGWP eligibility. Click here for the full eligibility criteria to qualify for PGWP.

The Canadian immigration system has now transitioned to an occupation-specific, French-speaking, and province-based system.

Graduates can increase their prospects of obtaining permanent residency through the Express Entry system or other provincial programs by working on a PGWP and gaining Canadian work experience.

So it’s important to understand the importance of PGWP and international students should make the most of it from day 1 and explore their possibilities for permanent residency.

1. The Express Entry Program

A common path to permanent residency for qualified workers, including foreign graduates, is the Express Entry system.

Candidates are evaluated using a point system that takes into account many aspects, including age, education, employment history, language skills, and flexibility.

Currently, the Express Entry system is focusing on individuals with a high level of proficiency in the French language or skilled workers with at least 6 months of experience in one of the occupations specified by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Click here for the full list of occupations with their NOC codes.

There are multiple pathways available to international graduates under the Express Entry system.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC): International graduates after gaining at least 52 weeks (at least 30 hours per week) of experience in any of the TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 occupations can become eligible for Express Entry CEC.

Level 5 in English or French language proficiency is needed for TEER 2 or 3 occupations, while Level 7 is required for TEER 0 or 1 occupations.

International students on PGWPs should focus on finding an appropriate occupation to gain experience in one of the occupations targeted in category-based Express Entry draws.

Click here for the full eligibility criteria for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP): Under the FSWP, foreign graduates with Canadian education are eligible to accrue points.

A lot of international students are unaware that they can qualify for FSWP from inside Canada as well.

A typical profile would be someone who just graduated from a study program in Canada, has at least 1 year (at least 30 hours per week) of experience in any of the TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 occupations (outside Canada), and level 7 in English or French language proficiency.

While on PGWP and prior to qualifying for CEC, foreign students can get additional points for arranged employment if their employer is willing to support them.

Click here for the full eligibility criteria for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).

2. The PNP, or Provincial Nominee Program:

A large number of Canadian provinces offer PNPs with designated tracks designed to accommodate foreign graduates.

In the event that graduates achieve provincial requirements, these programs provide a route to permanent residency.

PNPs associated with Express Entry in certain provinces provide preference to foreign graduates. Getting a provincial nomination raises an applicant’s Express Entry profile considerably.

Every province and territory has its own nominee programs, which further have multiple streams, including specific categories for international graduates.

Through PNPs, Canada aims to welcome 110,000 new permanent residents by 2025, as per the annual immigration levels plan.

Consequently, in 2024, the combined power of Canadian PNPs will be the only economic channel comparable to Express Entry.

Every program has a unique set of prerequisites. Several programs, for example, demand that you have some connection to the province in order to be eligible for nomination.

Every PNP processes data at a distinct speed. Once nominated, you must apply to the federal government for permanent residency.

Certain areas of the PNP are also eligible for express entry. Because of this, the federally supervised selection process has several streams for each of the provincial programs mentioned above.

Usually, the application fee for a PNP is the same as that for Express Entry.

But there can be some extra costs, depending on the province.

Processing PNP applications is free in certain provinces. On the other hand, fees in some areas, like Ontario, can reach $1,500 CAD.

3. Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

AIP is a Canadian government immigration program created to assist firms in the Atlantic provinces of Canada in hiring qualified foreign workers and recent graduates to fill their labour shortages.

It seeks to draw in and keep a highly qualified labour force in the area, therefore promoting economic development.

The initiative is a joint endeavour of the four Atlantic provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador—and the Canadian government.

AIP has been allocated an annual quota of 6,500 for 2024 and 8,500 for 2025, as per the official immigration levels plan.

Click here for the full eligibility criteria for the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP).

4. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

Recently, the Canadian government announced that it would make the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) a permanent program.

Furthermore, Canada is also launching two new rural immigration pilots this year.

Currently, the purpose of the RNIP is to draw immigrants to Canada’s 11 smaller communities.

After completing their studies, international graduates can apply for permanent residency in certain of these towns through special procedures.

Every participating community establishes its own standards and prerequisites for eligibility.

The IRCC is currently exploring options to expand the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) to other communities.

Click here for full eligibility criteria for Rural and Northern Immigration Program.

5. Agriculture and agri-food pilot

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Pilot Program in Canada provides skilled, non-seasonal workers in specific industries and occupations with a pathway to permanent residency, thereby tackling labour shortages in the agriculture sector.

Canada has extended the Agri-Food pilot program, which debuted in 2020 for a three-year period, until May 14, 2025.

The program, which targets workers in animal, greenhouse crop, and meat processing, aims to meet the sector’s labour demands and ensure long-term settlement.

Click here for the full eligibility criteria for the agriculture and agri-food pilot.

Gaining admission to a Canadian educational institution actually opens up a world of possibilities, one of which is the possibility of obtaining permanent residency in this hospitable and multicultural nation.

So International graduates can obtain permanent residency in Canada through a variety of routes, including PNPs, Express Entry, RNIP, AIP, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Pilot.

However, they need to plan their immigration journey wisely from the beginning of their studies as well as PGWP.

What are the permanent residency options for international students?

1. The Express Entry Program

2. The PNP, or Provincial Nominee Program:

3. Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

4. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

5. Agriculture and agri-food pilot

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