Work opportunities announced for international students affected by pandemic
By Noel Harper, News Editor
Thousands of international students residing in Canada have experienced significant interruptions to their future plans in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a recent announcement from the federal government will buy these students some valuable time.
Starting Jan. 27, graduated international students can apply for an 18-month open work permit if their previous post-graduation work permit (PGWP) has expired, or will expire between Jan. 30 and Nov. 27, 2021. Those former students who hold a PGWP that meets either of these criteria can apply for the new permit until July 27.
The PWGP is necessary for international students to gain required work experience in Canada following graduation from a Canadian post-secondary institution. This permit is valid for up to three years after a student has graduated.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, international students contribute more than $21 billion to the Canadian economy each year, and in 2019, 58,000 international graduates applied to become permanent residents of Canada.
“Whether as nurses on the pandemic’s front lines, or as founders of some of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue the fight against the pandemic. Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting,” said Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in a statement.
“This new policy means that young students from abroad who have studied here can stay and find work, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow.”
Many international students were left without employment by COVID-19, forced to return home in the wake of the pandemic without completing their work experience, or unable to find any at all due to unsavoury job markets. This temporary revision to the work permit policy is being made in effort to help the 52,000 graduates successfully apply to immigrate permanently to Canada.
With the pandemic came a drop in immigration to Canada, complicating the process dramatically. As a result, in October 2020, the federal government announced plans to welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants between 2021 and 2023, which alone would increase the country’s population by 3.2 per cent.
Tuition for international students remains much higher than the cost for domestic students. For example, international tuition fees can be as high as $24,250 for an academic year at Mount Royal University.