News Release - Government of Canada introduces changes to work permits for international students, making Canada more attractive for skilled individuals

Vancouver, April 21, 2008 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced changes to work permits for international students who graduate from eligible programs at certain Canadian post-secondary institutions, making it easier to attract foreign students to Canada.

Effective immediately, and for the first time, these international students would be able to obtain an open work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, with no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement for a job offer. In addition, the duration of the work permit has been extended to three years across the country. Previously, the program only allowed international students to work for one or two years, depending on location.

“The Government of Canada wants more foreign students to choose Canada and we want to help them succeed,” said Minister Finley. “Open and longer work permits provide international students with more opportunities for Canadian work experience and skills development. This will, in turn, help make Canada a destination of choice, and help us keep international students already studying in Canada.”

The increased flexibility offered by the expanded program will benefit graduates and employers alike as the program will help international students get important work experience while responding to Canada’s labour market needs. Canada will benefit in the long run as the professional experience gained will help graduates meet the requirements to stay permanently in Canada.

“As we move toward the implementation of the Canadian Experience Class, these changes will help create a pool of individuals who, with work experience, will find it easier to apply to immigrate to Canada,” added Minister Finley. “Our ability to retain international graduates with Canadian qualifications, work experience and familiarity with Canadian society, will help increase our competitiveness and benefit Canada as a whole.”

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows students who have graduated from an eligible program at a post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Preliminary 2007 data indicate that 63,673 international students came to Canada that year, representing a 4.6 percent increase over the previous year.

For further information (media only), please contact:

Tim Vail
Press Secretary
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

Karen Shadd-Evelyn
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650

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