A Guide to Permanent Residency for International Students in Canada

Canada offers numerous pathways for international students to transition from temporary status to permanent residency. In this guide, we will explore the different categories available, including the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, and the Provincial Nominee Program.


One crucial aspect to consider is that certain categories require eligible Canadian work experience. If you have plans to work in Canada after completing your studies, it’s essential to apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. This program allows you to gain valuable work experience in Canada, which can significantly enhance your eligibility for permanent residency.


This guide will provide a step-by-step process for immigrating to Canada.

Canadian International Student

Opportunities and Pathways for International Students to Immigrate to Canada Permanently

Canada is renowned for its world-class educational institutions, hosting some of the top schools. Not only does it offer world-class institutions, it seeks international students to be part of those institutions. In fact, Canada maintains a relatively high approval rate for Study Permits. According to IRCC data, in 2019, the approval rate for Study Permit applications was around 82%.


Canada has established pathways for international students with Canadian education and work experience to transition from temporary stays to permanent residency. These programs acknowledge the significance of Canadian education and offer accelerated routes to achieving permanent residency. While each program operates uniquely and encompasses requirements beyond completing studies in Canada, the following programs have emerged as popular choices among international student graduates.

Post Graduate Work Permits


Before discussing the different pathways to immigrate to Canada as an International Student, we do want to discuss the Post Graduate Work Permit.

A Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) is a work permit that allows international students who have completed a program of study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada to work in the country after graduation.

The duration of the PGWP depends on the length of the study program completed, with a maximum validity of three years. It provides international graduates with the chance to apply their acquired skills and knowledge in the Canadian job market while exploring potential opportunities for future permanent residency in Canada.


The PGWP is an opportunity for international graduates to gain valuable Canadian work experience, which can enhance their eligibility for various immigration pathways.


Express Entry


Express Entry is the most efficient pathway to immigrate to Canada. It is the path most immigrants come to Canada. It was created to help economic migrants that can help the Canadian economy avoid long processing times and settle quickly. The process takes under one year and in some cases a few months from applying to receiving an invitation for permanent residency. Express Entry is not a program itself but rather an online system used by the Canadian government to manage applications for permanent residency from skilled workers.


Canadian Experience Class


The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an immigration program in the Express Entry System that allows individuals who have gained professional work experience in Canada to apply for permanent residency. This is a popular path for many international students in Canada. There is a range of factors to be eligible for this program such as age, language proficiency, and education, the main differentiating factor for this program in the Express Entry is that applicants must have at least one year of continuous, full-time skilled work experience or three years of part-time experience. We do want to mention that experience gained during the duration of your studies will not count towards the requirement. This is why many international students apply for the PGWP after their studies, this allows them to stay in the country and gain experience to apply for the CEC.


Federal Skilled Worker Program


The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) is an immigration program in the Express Entry System that allows skilled workers with work experience in a designated occupation to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents. This may be an option for international students with work experience in a skilled profession outside of Canada. Whereas the Canadian Experience Class requires Canadian work experience, the FSW does not. The applicant will, however, still be required to provide one year of full-time skilled work experience or equivalent in part-time experience.

Federal Skilled Trades Program


Federal Skilled Trades (FSTC) is an immigration program that allows skilled tradespeople with work experience in a specific trade to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents. This would be an option for students who have over one year of trade experience and a certification in the trade either in Canada or a recognized institution. 


Provincial Nominee Programs


Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) are immigration programs designed by Canadian provinces and territories to nominate individuals with skills and work experience to settle and work in a specific province of Canada. Depending on the program, it may streamline through the Express Entry System. Each PNP operates differently as each province has its own labour force needs and requirements. However, many PNPs favour applicants who have some sort of connection to the province already, this may include the completion of a study program or work experience in the province. 


Region Specific Programs


There are two region-specific programs international students may consider, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).


The Atlantic Immigration Pilot is a Canadian immigration program that aims to address labour shortages and attract skilled workers to the Canadian Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. You must receive a job offer from a designated employer in Atlantic Canada to participate in the program. To immigrate through this program, you must either be a recent graduate of a recognized post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada, or a skilled worker. You can be living abroad or already be in Canada as a temporary resident. Atlantic Immigration Pilot applications typically take 6 months to process, and upon receiving the endorsement certificate from your employer, the applicant has a 6-month window to file their PR application.


Similar to the Atlantic Program Pilot, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a regional economic immigration program. The goal of the program is to attract and retain skilled immigrants to smaller communities in Canada. Local communities partner with employers to recruit foreign workers that have the skills and experience for the local job market. Qualified candidates who meet the requirements are then given an opportunity to apply for permanent residency.



This path may be the easiest for those international students who may have a family member who currently holds a permanent residency or is a Canadian citizen and is over the age of 18. Types of sponsorships include Spousal, Common-law, Conjugal Partner, Dependent Children, Parents, and Grandparents. With a sponsorship, the sponsored individual can live, study and work in Canada if they become permanent residents of Canada. However, before receiving their permanent residency, they can acquire a work permit allowing them to work in Canada as they wait for their permanent residency application.

Canadian Immigration Consultation

At Canada By Choice, our consultation firm has extensive experience working with students, and assisting them with their immigration needs is one of our areas of expertise. We understand that international students form a significant part of the diverse student body at the local University of Windsor and across Canada. Over the years, we have successfully guided numerous international students through the complex process of studying, working, and obtaining permanent residency in Canada. Our team is well-versed in the specific challenges and opportunities that international students encounter, and we provide tailored guidance to ensure a smooth transition and maximize their chances of achieving their immigration goals. We take pride in our commitment to delivering comprehensive and reliable services to international students, helping them navigate the Canadian immigration landscape with confidence and ease.

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About Us

Canada By Choice is a Canadian Immigration Firm based in Windsor, Ontario. Founded in 2007, Canada By Choice Immigration is widely considered as one of the most respected immigration firms in our region. We have earned our reputation as a world class firm by providing dedication and personalized service to each and every unique case before us.


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