'We need to use every tool in our toolbox to support employers who continue to face challenges in hiring the workers they need to grow'
Ottawa is making another move in hopes of helping employers address labour shortages.
The federal government is allowing international graduates with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to qualify for an additional or extended work permit to stay in Canada longer.
Under the new policy, foreign nationals whose PGWP has already expired in 2023 and those who were eligible for the 2022 PGWP facilitative measure will also have the opportunity to apply for an additional 18-month work permit.
Those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period, and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application.
“We need to use every tool in our toolbox to support employers who continue to face challenges in hiring the workers they need to grow,” says Sean Fraser, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.
“At the same time, we’re providing international graduates whose work permit is expiring or has expired with some additional time to stay in Canada to gain valuable work experience and potentially qualify to become a permanent resident.”
At the end of 2022, more than 286,000 international graduates were in Canada with a valid post-graduation work permit. About 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023, though about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and won’t need to extend their work permit through this initiative, according to the federal government.
Recently, the federal government gave a two-year extension to a temporary rule allowing visitors to apply for a work permit and then work even if they are already in Canada.
Previously, PGWP holders who want to extend their stay in Canada as a worker were expected to apply for another type of work permit as their PGWP expires. However, Ottawa adopted public policies previously in 2021 and 2022 that provided the opportunity for an additional work permit for those with expiring PGWPs.
The new policy will take effect April 6, 2023.
PGWP holders who are eligible for the facilitative process will soon receive messages about logging into their online IRCC Secure Account to opt in and update key personal information.
Tens of thousands of PGWP holders successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including a record-high more than 157,000 in 2021 and nearly 95,000 in 2022, the second-highest total ever, according to Ottawa.
Late last year, the federal government launched the 2023 International Experience Canada (IEC) Program, with a 20-per-cent increase in the number of applicants who can apply.
A couple of stakeholders voiced their opinion about the new PGWP from Ottawa.
“Good news to all our students in Canada,” says Harlene Matawaran, official Enhance Visa spokesperson, via Facebook.
“The good news is that international grads can breathe a sigh of relief,” says Kim K.C. Ly, adjunct professor, graduate diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law, Queen's Law.
But she also has a warning.
“My hope is that this isn’t another delay tactic for the minister to deliver on a promised [permanent residency] pathway for international grads and foreign workers this spring – otherwise, it would be no different from an employer exploiting the vulnerable.”
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