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Studying in Canada as a Path to Permanent Residence

If you are under thirty studying in Canada can be an effective strategy for obtaining Canadian permanent residence.  While graduating from a Canadian university or college will not guarantee permanent residence it does increase your chances. Below are some of the reasons.

  1. If you create an Express Entry profile, you will get extra points for having Canadian educational credentials at the post-secondary level.
  2. Provincial nominee programs such as the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program give special consideration to applicants who have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution.
  3. A perk of studying in Canada is the ability to qualify for a Post-Graduate Work Permit after you have completed your post-secondary program. Post-Graduate Work Permits enable students to work in Canada after graduation. This Canadian work experience can be extremely useful when later creating a profile under the Express Entry system as you will obtain extra points for work experience in Canada. Also, certain programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class, require one year of Canadian work experience in a skilled occupation.
  4. If you are not currently fluent in English (or French as the case may be), studying in Canada will give you the chance to improve your English (or French) language skills. Many of the points under the Express Entry system are based on language proficiency, and all of the federal economic immigration streams have language proficiency benchmarks.   
  5. If you are married, studying in Canada can give your spouse or partner the ability to apply for an open work permit and thereby obtain Canadian work experience. Having a spouse with Canadian work experience will go a long way towards qualifying under the different immigration streams.

That being said, study permit applications have their own degree of difficulty. For a shorter post-secondary program, having $30,000 in savings may be enough. For a longer program, you will likely need to prove savings of $50,000 or more.

You will also have to convince a visa officer that your intention to study is sincere and consistent with your age, prior education, and prior work experience. An middle-aged person returning to school after decades will likely be regarded with suspicion.

If you are lucky enough to get a study permit, I would recommend the following:

  1. Make good use of your time as a student. Try to (a) studying hard, (b) develop your skills in English or French, and (c) look for employment opportunities while you are still as student.
  2. When you graduate, do your best to find employment in a skilled occupation. Skilled work employment is usually necessary to qualify for permanent residence.
  3. Prepare an immigration plan even before you come to Canada. This will give you a tremendous advantage in the long run. However, your plan may have to be modified from time to time to account for changing immigration rules and changing labour market conditions. As such, while you are studying, and later when you are in the workforce, try to keep current on the existing immigration options and on skilled employment opportunities throughout Canada.