International students completing their entire Canadian higher education program online from abroad will still be eligible for post-graduation work permits, the Canadian government has announced.
The measures aim to ensure that international students at Canadian institutions will not miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the “myriad challenges” they have faced as a result of the pandemic.
The move will be welcomed by students and follows distress documented from many students concerned that their visa processing was stalled – as reported in The PIE.
The knowledge that they can access post-graduate work opportunities despite studying remotely may lessen concerns voiced about the difficulties in accessing their studies and the investment made into a Canadian education.
“This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow,” minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino said.
“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: We don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”
The announcement extends a previous policy that allowed students to count time spent studying online outside Canada towards the length of a post-graduation work permit, starting from when they applied for a study permit.
The government has recently also revealed open work permits for former international students who hold or held a post-graduation work permit, as – according to Mendicino – the country is “reimagining the way we do immigration” in the midst of the pandemic.
IRCC added that attracting skilled immigrants is a central part of the country’s plan as Canada confronts the pandemic’s second wave and charts a course for recovery.
The policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care and technology, it said, as well as help even more former international students build their futures in Canada.
One challenge that international students have been facing recently, is a struggle with visa delays that students have said is leading to mental health issues.