Canada expands off-campus work permits for foreign students

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada has announced an expansion to its Off-Campus Work Permit (OCWP) program for foreign students of Canadian universities. The expansion to the program will allow eligible international students of a Prince Edward Island private university to apply for work permits.

Previously, only foreign students of public colleges and universities were allowed to apply for work permits under the OCWP program. However, students attending the Maritime Christian College in the city of Charlottetown will also be able to take advantage of the program.

Canada has been increasing its efforts in trying to retain overseas students. In April of 2008, the Canadian government announced that foreign students who are under the Post-Graduation Work Permit program will be able to obtain an open three-year work permit with no restrictions on the type of employment. There is also no requirement for a job offer.

International students can use the OCWP program as a bridge to the Post-Graduation Work Permit program as the off-campus work permit is valid for up to 90 days after graduation, allowing students to search for employment.

"The Government of Canada is committed to helping newcomers succeed. This new pilot program will provide international students with an opportunity to get work experience in Canada and contribute to the local economy," said Canadian Immigration Minister Diane Finley.

"Giving students access to off-campus work permits also gives Canadian institutions a competitive advantage for attracting the best and brightest international students," she added.

"Being able to work will give the students an opportunity to improve their language skills and gain valuable experience," said Prince Edward Island's Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Richard Brown.

Brown said the expansion would help promote the province as a more attractive destination for overseas students.