Can I Get PR After My Post Graduate Studies In Canada?
If you are coming to the end of your post-graduate studies in Canada, you may be considering your next steps. If your plan is to remain indefinitely in Canada, it is essential to understand the immigration routes now available to you, and which will be best given your background, current circumstances, location in Canada, family needs, and future plans. In this article, we will explain some of the immigration options to gain Canadian permanent residency for those who are about to complete their post-graduate studies in Canada.
Are Post-Graduate Students Automatically Eligible For PR In Canada?
Post-graduate students are not automatically eligible for PR in Canada. Rather they will need to choose a suitable available immigration stream which will then lead to PR. There are several possible options depending on your background and location, including the:
- Provincial Nominee Program
- Canadian Experience Class
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
Eligibility For PR Under the Provincial Nominee Program As A Post-Graduate Student
Most Canadian provinces, with the exception of Québec and Nunavut territory, operate Provincial Nominee Programs tailored to their own needs. Depending on the geography, industries, availability of local workers, and a range of other factors, provinces set their own criteria to ensure that they have the necessary mix of people and skills.
As such, it is important that post-graduate students looking to apply for PR review their options in their respective province. For example, one such option in Ontario is the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). Under the OINP, there are two streams for post-graduate students:
- OINP Masters Graduate Stream
- OINP PhD Graduate Stream
To be eligible for these streams, you must have completed your post-graduate studies at an eligible university in Ontario which is of sufficient duration (one year for a Masters and two years for a PhD). For both streams, you must have legally lived in Ontario for at least one year in the past two years before you apply, and you must show you have sufficient settlement funds. For the Masters' stream, you will also need to satisfy the language requirement; this means that you understand, read, write and speak in English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 or higher.
The application process for the OINP is completed online and the cost is $1,500.
Eligibility For PR Under The Canadian Experience Class Route As A Post-Graduate Student
The Canadian Express Entry system is a popular route intended for skilled immigrants who want to settle in Canada permanently. Under this route, the Canadian Experience Class is for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and wish to become permanent residents. As opposed to the provincial program outlined above, which does not require work experience to be eligible for PR if you are a post-graduate student, the Express Entry system does require time in a skilled role in Canada first. This may also be an option for post-graduate students who worked in Canada before taking up a course of study. This is because the eligibility criteria for the Canadian Experience Class route states you must “have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, in the last three years before you apply”. Hence if you worked for one year, then completed a two year Masters, then you can apply under the Canadian Experience Class.
If you do not currently have the required work experience, you will need to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).
If you are eligible to apply for the Canadian Experience Class permit, in addition to the work experience requirement, you will also need to prove:
- you meet the language requirements
- you have gained your work experience by working in Canada while under temporary resident status with authorisation to work
- that you worked in either a managerial job (skill level 0), professional job (skill type A), or technical job or skilled trade (skill type B)
While there is no education requirement for the Canadian Experience Class, you will increase your rank in the Express Entry pool if you went to school in Canada. Specifically, you will be awarded additional points for a certificate, diploma or degree from a Canadian secondary institution (high school) or post-secondary institution.
Eligibility For PR Under The Federal Skilled Worker Route As A Post-Graduate Student
If you have overseas work experience, then you may be able to apply for the Federal Skilled Worker route once you graduate, in order to acquire permanent residency. This is also part of the Express Entry system.
You may be eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker system if you have:
- at least 1 year of continuous work or 1,560 hours total (30 hours per week) in the same type of job (have the same NOC) as the job you want to use for your immigration application (called your primary occupation)
- experience in either a managerial job (skill level 0), professional job (skill type A) or technical job or skilled trade (skill type B)
- sufficient language proficiency
- sufficient maintenance funds to live in Canada
Under the Federal Skilled Worker route, your education will count towards the number of points you are awarded (up to a maximum of 25 points). In addition to your education and work experience, you will also be assessed on:
- your age
- whether you have a valid job offer
- your English and/or French language skills
- your adaptability (how well you’re likely to settle in Canada)
This article doesn’t provide an exhaustive breakdown of all of the immigration options available to post-graduate students who are coming to the end or have completed, their studies in Canada, but it shows that the options available depend on your work experience in your chosen field, your French or English language skills, and where you live in Canada. If you wish to explore your options in more depth, speak to an immigration lawyer who will be happy to guide you through the available streams and routes based on your unique circumstances and plans for the future.