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Canada: New Rules Will Allow Many Foreign Students to Stay

(Sept. 2, 2008) Prior to this year, foreign students who wished to stay in Canada following their graduation usually had to leave the country and apply for either permanent residence or a work permit. Both options presented difficulties. The process for granting permanent residence is time-consuming and usually requires applicants to be assessed on a points system. The process for obtaining a work permit normally requires the applicant to have a job offer for a position that no Canadian citizen or resident is ready and able to fill. (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, 2001, S.C. c. 27, s. 30, http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/showdoc/cs/I-2.5//20080822/en?command=HOME&caller= SI&search_type=all&shorttitle=immigration&day=22&month=8&year=2008&search_
domain=cs&showall=L&statuteyear=all&lengthannual=50&length=50&noCookie
(last visited Aug. 22, 2008).)

Facing a shortage of skilled labor, the Government of Canada has taken two significant steps to assist foreign students who wish to remain in the country following their graduation. In April 2008, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced that under the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program, foreign students would be allowed to apply for a three-year work permit from within the country, without having a job offer in hand, as long as they completed at least a two-year course of study. Students who had pursued a shorter course of study would be able to obtain a work permit for a length of time equal to that of the studies they pursued. (News Release, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Studying in Canada: Work Permits for Students—Working After Graduation (Apr. 21, 2008), available at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work-postgrad.asp.)

Following the creation of the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program, the Government has announced that it is creating a new Canadian Experience Class to allow persons who have participated in the program to apply for permanent residence from within the country. The Government expects that it will eventually accept approximately 25,000 new economic immigrants every year under this new program. In announcing the creation of the Canadian Experience Class, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration stated that it is intended to compete with other programs adopted in Australia and the United Kingdom that are similarly designed to attract promising students. (Steven Chase, Ottawa to Ease Immigration for Workers, Students, TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL, Aug. 8, 2008, available at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/ servlet/story/RTGAM.20080812.wimmigrants13/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=
RTGAM.20080812.wimmigrants13
.)