Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) held an information session last Friday for international students interested in staying in Canada after graduation. The session also included a speaker from the New Brunswick Provincial Nomination Program (NBPNP) and covered a variety of topics, from how to immigrate to Canada to the particulars of navigating that process.
“It was very helpful as it cleared some of my doubts,” wrote Saurabh Kulkarni in an email. Kulkarni, a third-year political science and sociology student from India, plans on immigrating to Canada post-graduation. He wrote that the session “has cleared my thought process about which way to go, and about how I can make use of my experiences and education in order to immigrate faster.”
The presentation explained that university students are particularly well-suited to the new Express Entry programs offered by the government. These programs accept applicants who will be working or have been working as skilled labourers in management, trades or professional careers. Each program requires 1,560 hours of work experience within one or two years, in addition to a formal language evaluation in English and/or French.
International students can have hours counted toward this requirement in certain circumstances, but only if they are full-time students. International students are allowed to work 20 hours per week during the school year, and regular full-time hours during scheduled breaks, such as summer holidays. However, one cannot count hours worked during the school year toward the Express Entry programs’ work experience requirement.
Kulkarni, who worked full-time last summer, was satisfied overall with the straightforwardness of these requirements. “However, I feel international students who have studied at a university in Canada should be exempt from English or French testing requirements,” he wrote. “Four years in Canada are enough to learn either or both of those languages.”
Kavana Wa Kilele, a women’s and gender studies student from Kenya, was less optimistic about the requirements. Though she does not currently have any plans to immigrate, she feels there is a lack of support for foreigners living in Canada.
“The culture is welcoming, yes, but the structures that exist are isolating. You have to be able to actually live here, you have to be able to get a job,” Wa Kilele said. “When I was looking for a job it was like I was told ‘just figure it out yourself!’”
Wa Kilele also described difficulties obtaining a social insurance number, which is necessary for employment in Canada, due to a printing error on her student visa.
“All the criteria I have to meet to be allowed to stay in-country are taxing. I don’t think they’re making it easy for me to stay here,” she said. International students like Wa Kilele pay double the tuition of Canadian students, which can make having a source of income imperative to maintaining their legal status in Canada.
Regardless of these barriers, students like Kulkarni are excited about immigrating to Canada. “I am proud to say that I have two homes, and that I am patriotic about both Canada and India. I look forward to being a Canadian citizen and a productive member of the society.”