CAN Pathways

How International Students In Canada Can Pave Their Way To Permanent Residence?

Permanent Residence

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Over 640,000 international students call Canada their temporary home while studying at Canadian schools and universities. As your study permit expiration date approaches, you may be wondering – is there a pathway from my study permit to permanent resident status?

The answer is yes. With proper planning, international students can pave the immigration route from study permit to Canadian permanent residence.

Gain In-Demand Canadian Experience with a Post-Graduation Work Permit

After completing eligible studies, apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to gain valuable Canadian work experience. The PGWP allows international graduates to work for nearly any employer in Canada for up to 3 years.

To get a PGWP, you must:

  • Complete a program at least 8 months long at a Designated Learning Institution
  • Maintain full-time student status for all terms
  • Get transcripts and confirmation letters from your school

With PGWP work experience, you can boost your profile when later applying for permanent residence through Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs, or other pathways.

Express Entry – Ideal for Applicants with Canadian Experience

Express Entry manages and ranks applications for three economic immigration programs, including the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The CEC offers permanent residence for skilled individuals with recent work experience in Canada.

As an Express Entry candidate eligible for the CEC, you typically need:

  • 12 months of skilled work in Canada within 36 months
  • CLB 5+ in English or French depending on your NOC skill level

In the Express Entry ranking, Canadian education and work experience result in additional points for your profile, increasing your chances of getting an invitation to apply as a permanent resident.

PNPs – Combine Your PGWP with a Provincial Nomination

Every province and territory except Nunavut and Quebec runs a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Each PNP contains “streams” tailored to international graduates or workers.

If you get nominated through a PNP while on a PGWP, you’ll automatically get a whopping 600 additional points towards your Express Entry ranking – almost guaranteeing an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

Settle Permanently in Quebec with the PEQ

If you wish to immigrate permanently to Quebec, consider applying to the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) which offers expedited processing.

As a Quebec graduate, you may be PEQ eligible if you:

  • Intend to settle in Quebec
  • Have an eligible diploma from a Quebec school
  • Studied full-time in Quebec for ~1800 hours
  • Have 12+ months of skilled Quebec work experience in your field
  • The PEQ also evaluates French abilities as part of their selection criteria.

Additional Options for International Students

Beyond Express Entry and PNPs, some other programs reward international students, such as:

Atlantic Immigration Program

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) allows Canadian provinces in Eastern Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick – to recruit and nominate immigration candidates who want to settle in Atlantic Canada permanently.

As an international student who studied full-time for at least two academic years in an Atlantic province, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through one of the Atlantic International Graduate streams based on your field of study.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) facilitates skilled worker immigration to rural areas and smaller communities in Canada that struggle to meet labor market needs.

There are RNIP streams for foreign nationals who have:

  • Recent study credentials from a recognized Canadian learning institution
  • A current work permit and a job offer from a local employer

If you studied or worked in a participating RNIP community, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Hong Kong Permanent Residence Options

Canada opened special permanent residence pathways for Hong Kong residents in light of recent events. These allow workers, recent graduates, and students from Hong Kong to obtain open work permits or permanent resident status if they intend to reside outside of Quebec.

As an international student from Hong Kong who graduates from an eligible Canadian institution, you can get priority processing through the Hong Kong Graduates stream.

Turn Your Study Pathway into a Road to Permanent Residence

With intention and proper planning, international students can transition smoothly from study permits to permanent resident status in Canada through Express Entry, PNPs, or other programs. 

Focus first on successfully completing your studies, then gaining that all-important Canadian work experience through the PGWP. Doing so keeps your immigration journey on the express route to fulfilling your Canadian permanent residence dreams.


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