If you have studied in Canada, you have likely had a chance to make friends and get to know the country and may decide you want to stay and work in Canada after your graduate. Fortunately, there are a few options which allow you to remain, even if your work or study permit ends when your studies finish. You can seek to stay in Canada temporarily after you graduate, or you can seek permanent residency to stay in Canada permanently.
Stay and Work in Canada Temporarily After You Graduate
One of the ways to stay in Canada temporarily after your studies is to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Applying costs $255 and the process can take 51 to 107 days, on average, when you file online or with a paper-based application. You may qualify for a PGWP if you graduated from a designated learning institution in Canada and are at least 18 years old. Your program of study must have been at least eight months long and you must have been a full-time student who did not take any breaks in your education. Your institution must also meet the requirements to support your work permit, and to be eligible, you must have documents from your school showing you met all the requirements for graduation from your program.
When applying, you must do so within 90 days of finishing your program and you must have a valid study permit when you apply. If you are successful in securing a PGWP, the length of time you will be able to stay in Canada will depend on how long your study program was. If your course of studies was between eight months and two years, you will generally be allowed to stay in Canada for the same period of time. If your program was one year, for instance, your PGWP will typically allow you to work and live in Canada for an additional year. If your program was more than two years or you completed multiple programs, your Post-Graduation Work Permit will generally allow you to live and work in Canada for up to three more years.
There are special exceptions for PGWP requirements for graduates of some Quebec schools and for transfer students as well as accelerated programs and flight schools. If you do not qualify for a PGWP, you may still be able to seek a temporary stay in Canada. If you have an employer, you may be able to seek an employer-specific work permit, which allows you to stay in Canada for a specific period of time to work for one employer. You may also apply for an open work permit, which allows you to work for any eligible employers.
Stay and Work in Canada Permanently After You Graduate
If you have studied in Canada and have decided you like the country enough to live here permanently, you may be able to apply for permanent residency after you complete your program of studies. In fact, since you have gained a Canadian education and even work experience during your studies, these factors may help, as will the language skills you developed by pursuing your education.
If you have family in Canada or an employer willing to sponsor you, you can apply for permanent residency through sponsorship. If you do not have these options, you can apply for Canadian Experience Class (Express Entry). To apply, you must have the equivalent of twelve months of full-time work in Canada and you must meet language and other requirements. Since work gained during your education may not count, this option may be best if you studied in Canada and then secured a PGWP before applying.
The Federal Skilled Workers Program may also allow you to apply for permanent residency.
Applying to either program involves creating an Express Entry profile. You are given points for language skills, educating, job offers, and other factors and if you are one of the applicants with the highest score you will be invited to apply for permanent residency.
Another option is to apply for permanent residency through a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Each province has its own unique program with its rules, so it is useful to compare the programs to find out which one most closely fits your profile. Some provinces and territories, for example, may require you to have a job offer to apply while others do not. To successfully apply through a PNP, you must be nominated, and you may be able to apply through Express Entry or through the non-Express Entry stream of a specific province or territory.
If you wish to remain after your studies end, Immigration Direct has resources to help you apply for a work permit or Express Entry. Immigration Direct also has a free blog and other online resources you can check out to get practical, clear information to help you on your immigration journey.