In a move to make Canada more attractive to foreign students, immigration authorities have announced relaxed work permit rules for those who graduate from eligible programs from participating universities.
International students who graduate from eligible programs at select Canadian universities can obtain an "open work permit" under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, with no restrictions on the type of job and no requirement for a previous job offer.
The Post-Graduate Work Permit Program allows international students who have graduated from eligible programs from Canadian post-secondary institutions to temporarily work in Canada after completion of their studies.
The work permit would be valid for three years across the country. Previous rules only allowed a foreign graduate to work for one or two years, depending on their location within Canada. In addition, foreign graduates were only allowed to work under the program in fields related to their course of study.
"The Government of Canada wants more foreign students to choose Canada and we want to help them succeed," said Immigration Minister Diane Finley. "Open and longer work permits provide international students with more opportunities for Canadian work experience and skills development. This will, in turn, help make Canada a destination of choice, and help us keep international students already studying in Canada."
The expanded work permit program, with its increased flexibility, is expected to benefit students and employers alike. The program will help international students obtain valuable experience that will make it easier for them to immigrate to Canada. In addition, employers would benefit from the added pool of skilled workers in the Canadian labor market.
"As we move toward the implementation of the Canadian Experience Class, these changes will help create a pool of individuals who, with work experience, will find it easier to apply to immigrate to Canada," Finley said. "Our ability to retain international graduates with Canadian qualifications, work experience and familiarity with Canadian society, will help increase our competitiveness and benefit Canada as a whole."
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 63,673 foreign students came to Canada during 2007, a 4.6% increase over the previous year.