Canada’s international graduates: Don’t lose hope

Kareem El-Assal
Published: May 9, 2021

Many were hoping to benefit from the English-speaking International Graduates stream that Canada launched on May 6.

This was the most popular of the six streams introduced by Canada to allow some 90,000 additional international graduates and essential workers to apply for permanent residence. The two English-speaking essential worker streams have a quota of 50,000 applications combined while the quota for the English-speaking International Graduate stream was 40,000 applications.

Given the sheer volume of international graduates in Canada, the English-speaking graduate stream was the first to fill its quota, a feat which was achieved 25 hours after the streams went live.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

Undoubtedly, there are candidates who are disappointed they did not have a chance to submit their application in time. Common reasons why they were unable to do so include not yet having an IELTS General Training or CELPIP test result in hand to show they meet the government's English language proficiency requirement. Some may not have been able to submit their payment receipt in time (a technical glitch that some candidates faced on May 6 and the morning of May 7). Others may not have been employed at the time of the streams launching for various reasons (e.g., they were due to start a new job after the streams launched).

Whatever the reason may be, such individuals should not lose sight of the following possibilities.

IRCC may accept more applications under the English-speaking International Graduate stream

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will eventually begin to review the 40,000 applications, a process which inevitably entails refusing applications that do not meet IRCC's criteria.

IRCC may then surprise us yet again.

IRCC is not yet in a position to comment on this, and have not made any indication to this effect, but it may eventually welcome more English-speaking graduate stream applicants to compensate for the refusals. IRCC has done this in the recent past after holding their Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) lotteries. Some of those invited through the lottery choose not to go ahead and submit applications, resulting in IRCC then inviting new applicants.

Another possibility is that some candidates were eligible for both the graduate stream and an essential worker stream, and decided to submit two applications (and also pay double the application fee). To increase the number permanent residents it lands under the graduate stream, IRCC may choose to process such individuals under an essential worker stream. So far, the worker streams have predictably garnered far less interest than the graduate stream (graduates are a much larger population in Canada than foreign workers).

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

If IRCC falls short of achieving its 50,000 quota under the English-speaking essential worker streams, it may shift those spots over to the graduate stream. This is one option. Another would be to increase the number of eligible occupations under the essential worker streams, which would in turn, help more study permit holders and graduates become eligible under this temporary public policy.

It is also worth remembering that IRCC's Immigration Levels Plan is flexible and is never set in stone. The levels plan is a guide, but in reality, the number of immigrants and their entry categories are determined by many variables within, and outside of, IRCC's control. These variables include IRCC's processing capacity, the processing capacity of provinces and territories, demand among immigration candidates, the ability of candidates to obtain and submit their documents in a timely fashion, among other reasons.

The biggest variable is the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic will continue to result in changes to the levels plan. For instance, there is potential that IRCC will need to transition even more people in Canada to permanent residence due to border restrictions remaining in place for longer. It is likely that IRCC anticipated the border restrictions would be lifted sometime in 2021 when it finalized its levels plan last October. However, the likelihood of the restrictions being lifted this year is anyone's guess.

Graduates: What you can do

Some graduates with upcoming IELTS and CELPIP test dates scheduled may lean towards cancelling or postponing them since the graduate stream is closed. Perhaps they are not eligible for another Canadian immigration program or do not want to submit an application now (e.g., maybe they want to gain more Canadian work experience or education).

It may be worthwhile to ensure you meet all the criteria of the closed graduate stream in case IRCC decides to welcome more applications. Completing your English-language test and obtaining all your documents has few downsides but tremendous upside. Perhaps the only downside is the validity of your language test may expire if you do not submit a permanent residence application after two years. However, on the upside, being ready gives you a chance if IRCC opens the doors again for this stream. Moreover, with all your documents in hand, you will be prepared to submit your immigration application when you are ready.

Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and many of the over 100 different immigration pathways in Canada provide an advantage to international graduates. Being prepared now, in spite of the graduate stream cap being reached, will provide you with an added advantage.

Find Out if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit to discover your Canadian immigration options.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Related articles
IRCC increases number of permits it will process under temporary special measures for Palestinian extended family in Gaza
IRCC has increased the number of TRV applications it will consider from family member's of Canadian citizens, currently in Gaza,
10 Frequently Asked Questions about Proof of Funds for Express Entry
young couple boyfriend and girlfriend smiling together looking at the camera
Canada announces measures to help individuals impacted by the ongoing crises in Haiti
A closeup of two people holding hands, with a field in the background.
British Columbia and Manitoba issue provincial nominations in latest PNP results
A closeup of a person kayaking through a lake in Manitoba.
Top Stories
Do I need a language test to immigrate to Canada?
IRCC increases number of permits it will process under temporary special measures for Palestinian extended family in Gaza
What kind of school should I apply to as an international student in Canada?
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Study
What kind of school should I apply to as an international student in Canada?
Two men collaborating on a computer project.
Has IRCC’s LOA verification system successfully protected Canadian international students?
Girl using laptop to have a video call with her friend
Which country allows international students to work the most hours?
teacher helping teenager students at College, learning technology and science in preparatory course for university
Who can study in Canada without a study permit?
friends in university or college bonding in a fun social conversation
Link copied to clipboard