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  • Feb 10, 2008
    Being an international student is no easy feat, as studying abroad involves an onslaught of challenges. Young adults particularly experience major difficulties when transitioning to independent living for the very first time.
    For international students from Sri Lanka, it is most likely that they have never lived on their own before travelling overseas. These students are tasked to manage their time, finances, employment, and school workloads autonomously with little support.
    As reported by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC), there are currently over 600,000 international students living and studying in Canada. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these students have been forced to pursue higher education remotely from their home countries.
    The vast majority of these students, however, are currently continuing their studies in Canada despite being subject to online learning under jurisdictional ‘stay-at-home’ mandates across the country.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed international student populations into further uncertainty. Students abroad continue to navigate challenges and barriers associated with remote learning (e.g., logistics, access to technology, time difference, quality of instruction, peer support, and engagement).
    In the wake of global financial austerity and mass job losses prompted by the pandemic, maintaining personal finances and good health has become ever-so challenging for the students who are currently abroad.
    Additionally, the emotional strain involved in not being able to travel home for the holidays or spend time with loved ones has undoubtedly exacerbated the stresses endured by students. Stories of pain, hardship, and emotional toll have emerged from students living in regions hard hit by the pandemic.
    There is an evident lack of support for these students in many parts of the world, and they are faced with mounting pressures to return home. Despite this, repatriation, if it is an option at all, has proven to be a daunting task.
    Canada, on the other hand, has demonstrated its support, for its international student cohort as they continue to navigate new challenges with the pandemic. Financial relief awarded to Canadian residents and citizens was made available to international students who qualified with part-time work experience.
    The need for relief has also prompted the Canadian government to allow more opportunities for international students to apply for permanent residency. Since the inception of the Express Entry Program, foreign students in Canada have been in constant competition with candidates from all over the world to receive invitations for apply.
    The pandemic has prompted the Government of Canada to pivot its approach with the implementation of specific draws solely from Canada Experience Class (CEC), favouring international students on Canadian soil.
    February 18, 2021 saw an all-time low in express entry draws of 75 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points inviting 27,000 candidates under the CEC class; this presented yet another welcoming opportunity for migrant students and workers in Canada to apply for permanent residency.
    Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, recently announced that 90,000 applications would be accepted from international students and essential workers for permanent residency as a special measure.
    According to the Minister’s announcement, effective May 6, 2021, the department will accept applications under the following 3 streams:
    • 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care;
    • 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations;
    • 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution.
    Online applications would be accepted on a first come, first serve basis and the program will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until the program has reached its capacity.
    To promote Canada’s official languages, three additional streams with no intake caps have been launched for French-speaking and bilingual candidates.
    As the largest target allocation is for international students, I have decided to briefly discuss the respective eligibility requirements. If you are an international student in Canada, please review the following to determine whether you meet the necessary requirements:
    1. Completed a program of study at a qualified educational institution in Canada between January 2017 and the date of your application.
    2. Have been granted one of the following, after having completed a study program:
    a. A degree requiring a minimum of 8 months of schooling.
    b. A degree, diploma or certificate requiring any duration of schooling leading to an occupation in a skilled trade listed on Appendix A of the announcement.
    c. One or more diplomas/certificates/attestations of 2 years (16 months) of study. If combined, each program must have been at least 8 months of study in duration.
    d. A Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVA). each program of study must have been at least 900 hours accumulatively and combined programs must total at least 1800 hours accumulatively.
    3. Have been granted authorization to study during your period of schooling in Canada.
    4. Are presently employed with a valid permit or authorization to work. Self-employment will not be accepted unless the applicant is employed as a physician.

    5. Have attained a level of proficiency of minimum benchmark 5 in either English or French. IELTS General and CELPIP General tests will be accepted to prove proficiency in English. TEF Canada test will also be accepted to prove proficiency in the French language.
    6. Reside in Canada with valid temporary resident status. Physical presence in Canada is required to file the application.
    7. Intend to reside in a province other than Quebec.
    8. Are not inadmissible under the Immigration Act and Regulations.
    The significant advantage presented for international students here is that they no longer require a minimum of 12 months of work experience in a high-skilled occupation, as per CEC category applications, to qualify for permanent residency under the new public policy directive.
    Please note that the above is not a full account of the above-mentioned policy announcement; rather, it is a reiteration of important information relevant to international students and their pathway to permanent residency. A discussion of alternative avenues as per the recent public policy announcement would be properly facilitated in a separate article.
    If you believe that you meet the above-noted criteria, it is advisable to have your eligibility assessed by a professional. Thereafter, it is your decision as to whether you wish to complete the application yourself or retain a professional to represent you. Should you decide to retain the services of a professional, please verify that the individual is a licensed practitioner and in good standing with their respective professional body. Please also ensure that your representative is sufficiently experienced in immigration applications.
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