January 8, 2021—Ottawa—International students bring so much to Canada, contributing over $21 billion annually to our economy and supporting the vitality of our communities. Yet the pandemic has presented myriad challenges for international students. Most notably, for many holders of a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty have jeopardized their chances of obtaining the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.
As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to support international students through this challenging time, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit.
Foreign nationals in Canada affected by the pandemic with an expired or expiring PGWP will have a unique chance to apply for another open work permit. These will be valid for 18 months and allow former international students to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment and build their future in this country.
The government has made significant efforts to encourage international students to settle permanently in Canada, as they help create jobs and fill labour shortages so our businesses can thrive. They bring strong employment and language skills, bolstered by their Canadian education and work experience, so they are typically well positioned to apply for permanent resident status. More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019, and their decisions to stay in Canada will help to address our stark demographic challenges.
As we confront the pandemic’s second wave and chart a course for our recovery, attracting skilled immigrants is a central part of our plan. This new policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology and more. As we look forward, it will help even more former international students build their futures in Canada, contributing in ways large and small to our short-term recovery and long-term prosperity.