Making it easier for international students in Canada to obtain work permits upon graduation is a welcomed development, says Canadian immigration attorney David Cohen. Not only will it help Canada’s international student retention rate and ease current skills shortages, but it will also create a pool of qualified Canadian Permanent Residency applicants – applicants with Canadian education and work experience who have already integrated into Canadian society.

"This is the type of initiative that makes sense for Canadian immigration," says Canadian immigration lawyer David Cohen of the recently announced changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for international graduates.

International students who wish to contribute to the Canadian workforce upon graduating from eligible programs at certain Canadian post-secondary institutions now have more flexibility to do so. Effective immediately, the changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program remove the requirement to have a job offer at the time of application. International graduates can now obtain an open work permit, which means that they can work for any Canadian employer who offers them a job. The changes also allow international students the flexibility to work outside of their field of study, whereas previously, they were constrained to that field. In addition, where the program only allowed for work permits of one or two years, the duration of the Post-Graduation Work Permit has now been extended to three years across the country.

"Most of the challenges associated with Canadian immigration and settlement don’t apply to international students who are already here. They’ve already settled into Canadian society, they have Canadian credentials – they are a solid pool of applicants for Canadian immigration," says Cohen. "Now that they have a better chance at obtaining work experience in Canada and meeting the requirements for Permanent Residency under the new Canadian Experience Class, we’ll soon be welcoming a very successful new group of Canadian immigrants."

The new Canadian Experience Class category of immigration, which will be rolled out towards the end of the summer, aims to make it easier for international students and foreign workers who are already in Canada with temporary status to become Canadian Permanent Residents. At least one year of work experience in a managerial, professional, or technical position will be required to apply for the Canadian Experience Class.

In 2007, 63,673 international students came to Canada and about 11,000 international graduates received work permits.

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