Canada Adapts Graduate Work Permits to Stabilise Residency
|07 November, 2023
The Canadian government intends to stabilise new permanent residency levels by 2026 after years of increasing immigration. Additionally, it plans to revamp the post-graduation work permit programme to better align with labour market demands.
Canada has seen a surge in permanent residents in recent years, reaching a peak of 437,000 in 2022, which has strained housing and infrastructure.
To address these challenges, the federal government has unveiled an updated strategy to manage future growth while ensuring a balance between labour force requirements and provincial capacity.
The government commits to collaborating across departments and with regional authorities to create a more coordinated approach to housing, healthcare, and infrastructure.
The surge in permanent migration coincided with a rise in international students choosing Canada for their education, many of whom aspire to become permanent residents.
On November 1st, Immigration Minister Marc Miller revealed the new goals. Canada will maintain its planned goals for 2024 and 2025, increasing the number of new permanent residents to 485,000 and 500,000, respectively. In 2026, permanent resident levels will stabilise at 500,000.
Notably, the first three quarters of 2023 have already seen around 20,500 former study permit holders gain residency status in Canada, surpassing the 2022 total of 19,735, as per data from the IRCC.
Shamira Madhany, Managing Director for World Education Services Canada, views the new immigration targets as a balanced approach while still offering international students an opportunity for permanent residency. However, she also suggests additional actions to enhance Canada's appeal as a destination, including simplifying pathways to permanent residency, providing collaborative support for students, and providing clear pre-arrival information.
The government has also pledged to enhance the post-graduation work permit programme, particularly for major sectors, although specific details remain limited.
The IRCC's new strategy focuses on international students with high-demand skills, exploring measures to facilitate their transition into the labour force. Global Affairs Canada will work on marketing high-demand skills and sectors to prospective international students.
Marc Miller emphasises the significance of immigrants to Canada's economy, especially considering the ageing population. By stabilising newcomer numbers, the government aims to address housing, infrastructure, and sustainable population growth effectively. The plan seeks to balance economic growth, humanitarian traditions, Francophone immigration support, and collaborative levels of planning.
Furthermore, in line with its Francophone immigration strategy, the government plans to tackle barriers faced by students from sub-Saharan Africa who want to study in Canada. This includes developing a pilot programme with select post-secondary institutions to address financial requirements and facilitate applications to institutions in Francophone minority communities.
The IRCC also reiterates planned changes to the international student programme, including the recognised institution framework, but stakeholders believe more comprehensive support for international students is necessary. Recommendations include increased cross-sectoral collaboration, stricter regulation of education agents, and expanded eligibility for services provided by the settlement sector.