1. Home
  2. Society

[Report] IRCC change to PGWPP: To help international students or to meet a PR quota?

According to IRCC, extending the PGWPP to international students studying online is only temporary

A passenger walks through Toronto Pearson Airport Terminal 3 on December 3 (archives).

A passenger walks through Toronto Pearson Airport Terminal 3 on December 3 (archives).

Photo: Reuters / Chris Helgren

RCI

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) ensures that international students who have completed their education online outside Canada can obtain a post-graduation work permit.Through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), many postsecondary students who have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) can work for up to three years, depending on their program of study.

This rule highlights that by living and studying in Canada, an international student has improved their ability in Canada’s official languages, developed a social network and familiarized themselves with Canadian life and culture. Adding Canadian work experience after graduation to their educational credential(s) could make them a strong candidate for permanent residence. A student who completes a program without ever coming to Canada will not have those benefits upon the completion of their program, said Peter Liang, Communications Advisor at IRCC, in an interview with Radio Canada International.

Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a program via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible, said Liang.However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required flexibility. Temporary facilitative measures were put in place earlier in the pandemic to recognize that restrictions related to the global fight against the spread of COVID-19 meant that many students were studying online from abroad.

International students aged 18 and over are included in the group that is exempt from Canadian travel restrictions. However, starting January 15, they will only be able to enter Canada if they have been fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine (archives).

A passenger from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi arrives at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday April 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

International students aged 18 and over are included in the group that is exempt from Canadian travel restrictions. However, starting January 15, they will only be able to enter Canada if they have been fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine (archives).

Photo: The Canadian Press / Frank Gunn

Under the revised policy, the PGWPP covers the issuance of post-graduation work permits to former students who were hit by the pandemic in March 2020 and those who started studying in any semester between the spring of 2020 and summer of 2022.Earl Blaney, an immigration consultant and policy analyst, previously criticized the impact of online learning on the readiness of graduates for the Canadian labour market.They are allowing these people who have never been to Canada, to study in their rooms in Canada online. But even here, if it’s for the post-graduate work, my concern is how these people could possibly be successful for exactly the same reasons that IRCC has an issue with: adapting to Canadian society and getting them ready. So there is a major disadvantage right? Blaney said worriedly.

Impact of international education on the economy

Based on data from Statistics Canada, there were 235,422 international students enrolled in university and 153,360 enrolled in college across Canada between 2019 and 2020.The government recognizes the tremendous social, cultural, and economcic benefits that international students bring to Canada. Throughout the pandemic, IRCC has strived to accommodate international students and be fair with applicants by introducing a variety of temporary policy changes. (excerpt from Liang’s statement sent to RCI)

Earl Blaney is an immigration consultant and a policy analyst.

Earl Blaney is an immigration consultant and a policy analyst.

Photo: Earl Blaney ng The Canada Network

Earl Blaney is an immigration consultant and a policy analyst.

PHOTO: EARL BLANEY OF THE CANADA NETWORK

According to Global Affairs Canada (new window) estimates based on a study conducted by Canmac Economics Limited released in August 2020, up to $22.3 billion was invested by international students and their families in 2018 for their tuition, housing and other expenses. The amount is said to have supported 218,577 jobs that year.For students who complete most or all of their program [through online learning] from abroad, we encourage universities and colleges to provide meaningful Canadian experiences to their students and alumni, both virtually and once they are able to travel to Canada, to help them transition to working here, Liang added.The job readiness of international graduates is just one of Blaney’s greatest concerns. Major health and quality issues in future jobs could await international students entering the Canadian labour market.When Canada’s temporary resident to permanent resident pathway was launched last year, 40,000 international student graduates applied under the international graduates stream. The limit was reached in just a day. This helped Canada achieve its immigration target of 401,000 new permanent residents by 2021.It’s artificial, Blaney insisted.

Rodge Cultura

This report by our reporter Rodge Cultura has been translated from Tagalog to English.

Headlines