The Government of Canada recognizes that international students provide tremendous social, cultural and economic benefits to campuses and communities across Canada.
Temporary public policy for granting permanent residency to recent international graduates from a Canadian Institution
International graduates are also a source of key talent to help support Canada’s future economic growth and counteract the country’s aging demographic.
To this end, the Department has recently announced a temporary public policy to facilitate the granting of permanent residence for foreign nationals in Canada, outside of Quebec, with a recent credential from a Canadian post-secondary institution. The 40,000 spaces reached their application cap in 25 hours. The top five countries of origin for applicants were India, Nigeria, France, China, and the Philippines.
By granting permanent resident status to recent international graduates from Canadian post-secondary institutions who are currently employed in Canada, the economy will be able to continue to benefit from their training and expertise for pandemic recovery and into the future.
The majority of applications received under this public policy have not yet been uploaded into our system. As a result, we are unable to provide data on these applications at this time.
COVID Facilitations - Temporary changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
Through the pandemic, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made temporary policy changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) to encourage students to continue pursuing their Canadian programs of study.
These policy changes to PGPWPP ensure that students can study online in Canada or abroad and remain eligible for the program, thus maintaining the opportunity to work in Canada after they graduate and potentially qualify for permanent residency in the future.
On February 12, 2021, due to the prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months, IRCC announced an extension and expansion to the temporary PGWPP policy changes. The new measures ensure that all eligible studies completed outside Canada as of spring 2020 until December 31, 2021 will count towards a future PGWP.
My Department has also given former students in Canada with expired or expiring PGWPs with the opportunity to apply for an additional open work permit between January 21, 2021 and July 27, 2021 that can be issued with a duration of up to 18 months. This will provide these former students with additional time to acquire the work experience needed to qualify for permanent residence programs, the ability to support themselves in Canada, and the opportunity to help fill labour market needs.
Updates on study permit processing
In support of fall 2021 enrolments, the Department has committed to issuing final decisions by August 6, 2021, on fully complete study permit applications received before or on May 15, 2021; incomplete applications could result in delayed processing.
This processing commitment was undertaken to address stakeholder concerns over the website postings of longer than usual study permit processing time resulting from COVID-19 service disruptions, and to provide assurances to international students that they can pursue their study plans at Canadian designated learning institutions.
The Department will finalize complete applications, and proactively communicate with applicants who are able to submit biometrics/medicals where VACs are open. We will also assess the potential need for two-stage processing for those unable to submit biometrics or medicals where VACs are closed this summer.
Updates on travel by air quarantine measures
As of April 22, 2021, the Government of Canada suspended flights from India and Pakistan.
Indian and Pakistani foreign nationals who had planned to study in Canada for the Summer 2021 semester and onward, will continue to have the opportunity to study at Canadian designated learning institutions from their home country and remain eligible for the PGWPP after they graduate and potentially qualify for permanent residency in the future.
Temporary public policy for recent international graduates from a Canadian Institution
On April 14, 2021, the Department announced an innovative pathway to permanent residence for up to 40,000 international graduates who are actively contributing to Canada’s economy.
To promote Canada’s official languages, an additional stream with no intake cap has also been launched for French-speaking international graduates. Communities across Canada benefit from French-speaking newcomers, and this pathway will contribute to the vitality of these Francophone minority communities.
These two special public policies will grant permanent status to international graduates who are already in Canada. To be eligible, international graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program no earlier than January 2017. International graduates must prove proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages; meet general admissibility requirements; and be authorized to work and working in Canada at the time of their application to qualify.
The international graduate stream opened May 6th, and closed late in the day on May 7th, as it had reached its intake cap of 40,000 applications. The stream for French-speaking applicants remains open.
Temporary policy change to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program and distance learning
Given the impact of COVID-19 on international students and the post-secondary sector, temporary policy changes have been made to PGWPP eligibility requirements.
Under normal circumstances, 50% of a program of study must be completed in-Canada and in-class, and time spent studying outside of Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit.
Temporary policy changes have been made to ensure international students can remain eligible for the PGWPP if they study online in or outside Canada:
In Canada: Students who are studying in Canada and whose classes have been moved online due to COVID-19-related health restrictions will remain eligible for the post-graduation work permit.
Outside Canada: On February 12, 2021, the Department announced that for international students who begin or began a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020:
Studies completed outside Canada up to December 31, 2021, will be counted towards the eligibility and length of a future PGWP; and
Up to 100% of a student’s program can be completed online from outside Canada while retaining eligibility for a PGWP.
These measures are available to students who have a study permit, a study permit approval, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program of study and are eventually approved. All other PGWP program criteria must be met.
Former students in Canada with expired or expiring post-graduation work permits
On January 8, 2021, the Department announced a new temporary public policy that will facilitate the issuance of open work permits with durations up to 18 months to foreign nationals in Canada with an expired or expiring post-graduation work permit. The public policy is effective from January 27, 2021 to July 27, 2021.
The additional open work permit will provide current and former PGWP holders with additional time to acquire required work experience to qualify for permanent residence programs, the ability to support themselves in Canada, and the opportunity to help fill Canadian labour market needs. This temporary public policy also recognizes that former students are an important pool of future permanent residents that will help Canada’s economic recovery as the pandemic recedes
To apply, foreign nationals must:
have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that will expire within four months or less from the date they apply;
be in Canada when the public policy takes effect (January 27, 2021) and have remained in Canada; and
have a valid temporary status, or are applying and eligible to restore their status.
Measures to extend stay, document requirements and biometrics
Since July 14, 2020, the Department provides an extension for foreign nationals applying for restoration in Canada beyond the normal 90-day timeframe. This public policy was renewed on January 1, 2021.
Former students, along with former workers and visitors whose status expired between January 30, 2020 and May 30, 2021, and who remained in Canada, have until August 31, 2021, to apply to restore their status, provided they meet the requirements for the type of status and authorization they are applying to restore.
Since July 15, 2020, the Department put in place a public policy to exempt temporary residence applicants, such as study and post-graduation work permit applicants, applying from within Canada from having to give their biometrics. Biometrics are required for students applying from outside of Canada.
Official language test results are not required as part of the standard study permit application process. However, clients who reside in eligible countries who wish to take advantage of expedited processing under the Student Direct Stream (SDS) must include test results with their application for a study permit.
Official language test results (International English Language Testing System for English of CLB 6.0 or higher or Test d’évaluation de français for French of at least CLB 7 for each language skill) are one of the requirements under SDS that enable faster decision-making on study permit applications as they demonstrate the applicant has the necessary language proficiency to succeed academically.
Applicants must also comply with other requirements, including purchasing a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of CAN $10,000.00 or more; proof of full tuition payment upfront and medical exams). SDS is available to legal residents of the following countries:
International students may be required to obtain language test results as part of the admission process, as controlled by their designated learning institution (DLI).
Official language testing remains widely available and testing organizations in most countries are not significantly impacted by COVID-19 reductions in service.
[See note 25 on TR to PR Pathways for additional details on language testing and testing capacity]
Supporting facts and figures
International students contribute over $22.36B per year to the Canadian economy – greater than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircrafts.
Canada offers a generous international student program. Worldwide, Canada ranks 4th for education destination of choice.
In 2020, the Department received approximately 316,000 applications for new study permits. This compares to approximately 425,800 new study permit applications in 2019, representing a 26% decrease. The significant decrease is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Visa Application Centre closures and overall processing delays.
From January to April 2021, the Department processed approximately 164,896 applications for new study permits. This compares to approximately 78,273 for the same time period in 2020, representing a 110% increase.
From January to April 2021, the Department processed approximately 43,511 applications for study permit extensions. This compares to approximately 42,134 for the same time period in 2020, representing a 3.27% increase.
Based on the volume of study permits confirmedFootnote *, 57,512 international students arrived to Canada between January 1 and April 30, 2021; compared to 25,482 students arriving during the same time period in 2020 (126% increase). For reference, the number for full-year 2020 was 64,594.
In 2019, there were 829,405 international students in Canada studying from primary to post-secondary levels (in 2015, there were 495,590 students in Canada).