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Statistics Canada Report Highlights International Students’ Contributions to Canada


A recent report by Statistics Canada examined the immigration paths taken by international students in Canada from 2000 to 2019. A major finding of the report was the increase in numbers of students choosing to study in Canada and subsequently pursuing permanent residency. The report, titled “International students as a source of labour supply: Transition to permanent residency” by Youjin Choi, Eden Crossman, and Feng Hou, indicated that the number of study permit holders has steadily increased from 122,700 to 642,500 between 2000 and 2019, according to the department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The Government of Canada’s immigration system has evolved with this trend, including facilitating Provincial Nomination Programs (PNPs) that target students and establishing the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) in 2008.

The Canadian Experience Class was established specifically for skilled temporary foreign workers, including international students. Canada has long recognized the benefits of encouraging foreign nationals to study in Canada. Once they complete their schooling, they possess Canadian experience and language skills, and no credential evaluations are required. The Express Entry program, which was created in 2015 and manages the CEC along with two other immigration streams, awards points to candidates that have studied and/or worked in Canada.

Another important component to the retention of international students is the post-graduation work permit (PGWP). The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is a temporary worker program under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The PGWPP is an open work permit allows graduates from an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution to gain work experience in Canada. It often provides the necessary job experience required to apply for an economic-class immigration program.

Other findings in the report are as follows:

  • About 3 in 10 international students who arrived in Canada between 2000-2019 became landed immigrants within 10 years of their arrival. This number was 5 in 10 for master’s degree students and 6 in 10 for doctoral degree students.
  • 6 in 10 international students employed during their period of study or after graduation became landed immigrants within 10 years of obtaining their first study permit.
  • Among those international students who received their first study permit between 2010 and 2014, 2010 and 2014, 46 per cent of immigrants from India became permanent residents within five years, more than any other country. The next largest percentage was Nigeria, with 30 per cent, and Vietnam, with 21 per cent.

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