Permanent Residency in Canada for International Students: Pathways to Settle and Thrive

Learn about the various immigration programs that allow international students in Canada to attain permanent residency. Discover the best path for your needs and qualifications.

Permanent Residency in Canada for International Students: Pathways to Settle and Thrive
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Apr 15, 2023 03:10 AM
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Canada is a top destination for students from all over the world. There are several reasons why Canada is the ideal country for your higher education aspirations. Even as a student, you are allowed to work in Canada as long as you meet certain conditions stipulated by the law.
Every year, the number of international students in Canada increases, and so does the number of students who have been applying for a permanent residence permit. The Canadian Federal Government has been trying for years to attract young students from different parts of the world to graduate from Canadian universities and contribute to the Canadian workforce after completing their graduation. Gaining permanent residency in Canada for international students can be tricky, which is why we made this list of ways in which you can attain the same.

Immigration Programs for Permanent Residency in Canada for International Students

Canadian immigration policies are designed to encourage international graduates to settle in the country and be employed after successfully graduating from a legally accredited and approved Canadian university. There are many ways to obtain a permit for permanent residency in Canada, the federal Express Entry system being the one that international students most use. Other methods include the post-grad work permit, federal skilled worker program, provincial nominee programs, Quebec Skilled Worker Program and Family Class Permanent Residence.
Even as a student, you can work in Canada. Follow the link for details:

Post-Graduation Work Permit Program

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According to the immigration law in Canada, regardless of which country you are from, once you complete your graduation from a university in Canada, you can get a post-grad work permit that can also be extended to up to a duration of three years. One of the conditions for a post-grad work permit is that the period of work should not be more than the period of study. You should have had been enrolled in a full-time study program at a Canadian university. You should also meet the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) or clear the Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadiens (NCLC) and have evidence of your advanced English or French language abilities.
Before you apply, you need to be aware of the National Occupation Classification (NOC), which is basically a list of all the job categories in Canada classified on the basis of skill type and level of skills.
Primary Job Groups under the Canadian National Occupation Classification (NOC)
  • Skill Type 0 (zero): Occupations that involve management
  • Skill Type A: Jobs for university graduates and industry professionals
  • Skill Type B: Technically oriented skilled trades that require apprenticeship
  • Skill Type C: High-school qualification needing intermediate work positions
  • Skill Type D: Work that is comprised of labour and needs on the job training
For more on post study work permit in Canada for international students, click here:

Canadian Express Entry

The Express Entry system is the main route for economic immigration in Canada. This mechanism was first introduced in 2015 and has since added several tweaks and improved features that allow international students to apply for permanent residency in Canada after graduating from a Canadian university. To be part of the Express Entry immigration system, you have to fulfil certain terms and conditions. To be invited to the Express Entry pool, you have to be eligible for federal economic immigration programs.
You will receive a Canadian Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on which you will be invited to send an application for permanent residence in Canada within 60 days of getting your CRS score.
Programs under the Canadian Express Entry system
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Worker Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Class
Click here to know more about Canadian Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS):

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

The most commonly used method of immigration by international students in Canada is the Canadian Experience Class under which you are allowed to permanently work in Canada once you have completed at least one full year of work in the country. The Canadian Experience Class falls under the Canadian Express Entry Program.
To make the best use of the Canadian Experience Class program, what you can do is to ensure that you complete a minimum of 12 months of skill work in Canada after finishing your degree in Canada. During this time, you may also need to polish your English language abilities and provide proof by utilizing language proficiency tests like the IELTS or TOEFL. You must also have a good Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score and apply to enter the Canadian Express Entry Pool.
Click here to learn more on the Canadian Experience Class immigration option:

Federal Skilled Worker Program

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According to this pathway, to gain permanent residency in Canada, as an international student who has recently graduated from a Canadian university, you are not required to have work experience, specifically in Canada. The Canadian Federal Skilled Worker Program is the perfect option if you already have some work experience in your industry from another country.
You will, however, need to provide evidence of having a full-time skilled job for a minimum 12-month period. Again, this merit-based system uses the automatic ranking mechanism called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), where you get invited to apply for a permanent residence in Canada only if you have a competitive academic and professional profile.
Follow the link for further details:

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

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As you may already know, Canada is comprised of 10 provinces; Alberta, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and New Brunswick. Each of these Canadian territories. Suppose you are not eligible for the Canadian Express Entry Immigration System and struggle to meet the various requirements for a good Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. In that case, you can consider Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for permanent residency in Canada.
Programs under the Canadian Express Entry system
  • Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP)
  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)
  • New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NB PNP)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP)
  • Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP)
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, BC Express Entry
  • Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP)
  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)
Follow this link to know more about how the Provincial Nominee Program works:

Quebec Immigration Options

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There are Canadian Economic Immigration Programs that are operated independently by Quebec. This is separate from all the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) and Canadian Federal Schemes for immigration of internationals. If you are an international student and graduate from a university in Quebec, you can be eligible for this program. You may also be required to prove your abilities in the French language with a minimum intermediate level language certification.
Recently, Quebec Immigration Options with the Quebec Skilled Worker Program transitioned into an Interest-based system where you get higher points for more work experience in the Quebec province.
Programs Structured for the Benefit of International Students
  • The Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) which needs you to be fluent in French.
  • The Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) without the requirement of advanced proficiency in French.
For more on the Quebec Skilled Worker Program:


Canada has a reputation worldwide for being a tolerant country with a significant international population from diverse cultures and ethnicities. Applying for permanent residency in Canada for international students can seem like a daunting process, but it is well worth the effort. Although the process can be complicated, thorough online research of all the immigration options will give you an overview of what can be expected. This article gives you a brief outline of international students’ various options to obtain a permanent residence in Canada. You can look through the official Canadian website that deals with immigration policies and processes to find the cheapest, easiest and quickest option that you are eligible for.