Report: Immigrants who studied in Canada earned more

Julia Hornstein
Published: April 9, 2023

Statistics Canada released a study in 2022 which examined the relationship between pre-immigration study in Canada and post immigration earnings.

Discover your options to study in Canada

One of the main findings of the study was that during the first two years after immigration, economic principal applicants with Canadian study experience earned considerably more than those who did not study in Canada. The study continues by stating that the increased earnings were due to the applicants better official language ability and acquired Canadian work experience.

International students in Canada are permitted to work while they study and may be eligible for a Post-Graduation work permit (PGWP) after completing their studies, giving them the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience. They may then be eligible for permanent residency through one of Canada’s over 100 economic class immigration streams.

In addition, immigrants with Canadian study experience tended to be younger, more educated, more likely to speak an official language and much more likely to have pre-immigration earnings in Canada than immigrants who did not study in Canada.

Benefits of Canadian study experience in the long term

The Statistics Canada study also found that compared to applicants with similar language profiles and pre-immigration Canadian work experience, those with Canadian study experience earned less in the first years than those without, due to a higher tendency to pursue further schooling in the initial years after immigrating to Canada.

Despite this, the benefit of Canadian study experience was evident in the long term. As economic immigrants worked more in the Canadian labour market, pre-arrival characteristics became less important in accounting for the earning advantages to studying in Canada. Ten years after immigration, economic immigrants who had studied in Canada had higher earnings than those with Canadian study experience.

Statistics Canada explained that formal education in Canadian learning institutions provides immigrants with high quality occupational skills tailored towards the Canadian labour market and an increased ability to integrate into their communities of Canadian economy and society.

How to study in Canada

If you would like to study in Canada, you must first choose and apply to a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI), such as a university of college, and obtain a letter of acceptance.

Once you have been accepted to the DLI, you may apply for a study permit to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In order to eligible to apply for a study permit, you must:

  • Prove that you have sufficient financial support to cover the first year of tuition, as well as living expenses and return transportation to your home country
  • Obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) if you wish to study in the province of Quebec
  • Have a clean criminal record. IRCC may request a police clearance certificate.
  • Be in good health. IRCC may request a completed medical examination
  • Satisfy the immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of the stay authorized by the study permit.

Study to Permanent Resident Pathway

International students who graduate from a post-secondary institution in Canada may have opinions to extend their stay and ultimately become permanent residents. Canadian education can be an advantage for students looking to become permanent residents as many federal and provincial immigration programs value candidates with Canadian education and work experience.

After completing your education in Canada, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows you to gain Canadian work experience for up to three years.

To be eligible for a PGWP, international students must have:

  • Completed studies in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least eight months long at an eligible DLI;
  • Study program must have led to a degree, diploma or certificate;
  • Held full time student status in Canada during every academic session of the program of study and included as part of their post-graduation work permit application; and
  • Obtained a transcript and an official letter from the DLI confirming the applicant has met all requirements to complete their program of study.

While holding a PGWP, you can apply to a number of federal and provincial permanent residence programs, such as Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Programs.

Express Entry

Express Entry is a system that manages applications by IRCC and is the main way the Canadian government welcomes economic class immigrants. Express Entry manages three distinct programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Each of the three programs have minimum eligibility criteria that a candidate must meet before being eligible to apply.

When applying, the candidate will receive a score by the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which is used to identify candidates that will be most successful in Canada’s job market. Usually every two weeks, the Canadian government will hold Express Entry draws inviting those with the highest CRS scores to become permanent residents.

Provincial Nominee Programs

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces and territories to choose and nominate individuals looking to become permanent residents and are interested in settling in a particular province. There are over 80 different streams that are designed for workers, graduates and entrepreneurs.

An applicant may apply directly to a PNP stream. The province will ensure that the applicant meets all eligibility criteria and will issue a letter of nomination to the applicant so they can then apply to IRCC for permanent residence.

An applicant can also apply through Express Entry. If an applicant is eligible for an Express Entry program, they can increase their chances of an Invitation to Apply (ITA) by obtaining a provincial nomination. If the applicant is deemed to be a good fit for the province, it will issue a notification of interest to the applicant, meaning they are invited to apply for provincial nomination. An applicant with a provincial nomination will automatically receive 600 CRS points, which essentially ensures an ITA in an upcoming Express Entry draw.

Although Express Entry and PNP are the two largest pathways to permanent residence, there are other options for international graduates offered by Quebec and the federal government. For example, the Quebec Experience Program is a fast-track way for foreign graduates to obtain a Quebec selection certificate, a mandatory step towards permanent residence.

Moreover, the federal government offers other economic pathways for international students such as the Atlantic Immigration Program and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.

Discover your options to study in Canada

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