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New Changes to Canada’s PGWP Restrict Access for International Students

The Canadian government is proposing adjustments to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program to better match with labor market needs, which may limit access for international students.

This objective was hinted at in prior statements concerning foreign education changes, and it has now been confirmed in a document distributed to provinces and educational institutions.

According to a document from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) seen by Business Elites, the goal of these consultations is to align PGWP eligibility with labor market needs, reduce the overall number of PGWP holders, and increase the chances of international students finding jobs matching their education and training.

The proposed modifications would affect the PGWP program, which now allows international graduates from publicly supported higher education programs to work in any field without restrictions.

The IRCC is seeking feedback on several points:

  • Which occupations should be eligible for the PGWP in different regions.
  • Whether any student groups, such as French-speaking students or those with graduate degrees, should be exempt from these changes.
  • Additional requirements, like proof of a job offer in a designated shortage occupation or language proficiency, should be necessary for PGWP eligibility beyond one year.

The IRCC also wants to know if these changes should go into effect immediately for all graduates or if a ‘grandfathering’ method should be employed, allowing current international students to continue to be eligible under existing standards.

Furthermore, the government is looking at whether the suggested adjustments will suit the long-term workforce demands of specific areas, as well as whether provinces can provide a clear road to permanent residency for overseas students with employment offers in crucial sectors.

Earlier this year, the IRCC significantly altered the PGWP by eliminating eligibility for students at public-private partnership colleges and limiting post-secondary study permits below the master’s degree level.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that these measures were necessary because the rapid increase in international students had put too much strain on housing, healthcare, and other facilities.

The prospect of post-study employment has been a significant appeal for international students in Canada.

Historically, Canada has been praised for its post-study employment opportunities and pathways to permanent residency.

According to a 2021 study conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education, 72.5% of 41,512 international students at 67 postsecondary institutions planned to apply for a post-graduate work permit.

By the end of 2023, there were 1,040,985 study permit holders, up 29% from the previous year and 63.2% from the 637,780 holders in 2019, before to the pandemic.

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