Pre-departure guide for international students
7. Returning to Canada
If you enjoyed your time in Canada and would like to return, there are many opportunities to do so.
This section provides information on your options as a visitor, as well as on permanent migration to Canada.
7.1 Visiting Canada as a tourist
Depending on where you live, and the reason for your visit, you will need to meet certain entry requirements to Canada. In some cases, you will need a Temporary Resident Visa.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada - Find out if you need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa
- Canada Travel
7.2 Post-graduation work program
The post-graduation work program enables graduating students to gain Canadian work experience in their fields of study for up to three years after graduation. The work permit is valid for only the length of time the student studied in Canada. For example, students graduating from an eight-month certificate program would be eligible for a work permit of eight months.
To be eligible, you must have:
- graduated from a Canadian public post-secondary institution; some private institutions also qualify
- studied full-time for at least eight months preceding the completion of your program of study
- applied for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation that all completion requirements for your academic program are met, e.g. transcript, official letter from the institution, etc.
- a valid study permit when you apply for the work permit
You are not eligible for a post-graduation work permit if any of the following are applicable:
- You graduated from a program of less than eight months in duration.
- You were previously issued a post-graduation work permit following any other program of study.
- You graduated from a distance-learning program.
- You hold a Commonwealth Scholarship or other scholarship funded by the Government of Canada.
7.3 Work permit
Every year thousands of foreign workers enter Canada to temporarily alleviate skills shortages. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) ensure that these workers will support economic growth in Canada. In most cases, you must have a valid work permit to work in Canada.
These steps must be followed before you apply for a work permit:
- An employer must first offer you a job.
- ESDC must normally provide a labour market opinion or “confirmation” of your job offer.
- After ESDC confirms that a foreign national may fill the job, you apply to IRCC for your work permit.
In special circumstances, you may be able to work in Canada without a work permit, e.g. foreign government representatives, military personnel, on-campus employment, news reporters, judges, clergy, etc. For a full list of jobs exempt from work permits, visit the IRCC website.
To become a permanent resident based on your work skills or experience, you must apply under a category such as the Skilled Worker Program, Express Entry or the Provincial Nominee Program (see Section 7.4).
7.4 Immigration to Canada
Every year, Canada welcomes thousands of new residents. Coming to Canada as an immigrant is an exciting opportunity, but also a great challenge. There are a number of options to apply for permanent resident status. Some examples:
- Skilled workers and professionals: For people who want to settle and work in Canada (outside of Quebec). Quebec-selected skilled workers: For people selected by the Quebec government to settle and work in Quebec.
- Skilled trades: For people who want to immigrate based on being qualified in a skilled trade.
- Canadian Experience Class: For people who have recent Canadian work experience or have graduated and recently worked in Canada.
- Investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed people: For people who want to start a business in Canada.
- Provincial nominees: One of Canada’s provinces or territories can nominate you to settle and work there.
- Sponsoring your family: Sponsor a family member to join you here if you are a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen.
Work-study programs offer a competitive edge
The co-op program at the University of Ottawa allowed me to alternate my studies in chemical engineering with a practical work opportunity. This enabled me to pay for school and put theory into practice–invaluable experience that led to my current role as Unit Head of the Petroleum Laboratory at the Institute of Industrial Research in Lebanon.
Nicole Ziadé Bou Farhat - Lebanon
University of Ottawa: Bachelor in Chemical Engineering (1999)
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