This mistake can cost you a Canadian permanent resident permit

Becoming a Canadian permanent resident
Canada's immigration pathways attract a large number of international students yearly. Three out of ten students successfully become immigrants within a decade after receiving their first study permit. Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

What does it take to become a Canadian permanent resident as an international student? With its quality education and low employment rate, it’s hardly surprising that Canada is winning the top study destination race. The student-to-immigrant transition is promising: Statistics Canada reports that three in 10 students who arrive in the country receive their PR within a decade after their study permit was first issued. 

That said, landing a coveted PR isn’t always guaranteed, even if you’re doing all the right things. With a current application backlog of nearly two million, the waitlist to officially become a newcomer in Canada is growing longer. Whether the resumption of the Express Entry invitation in July 2022 will alter the current situation remains to be seen, as many are still awaiting answers on their immigration status. 

Still, ticking all the right boxes prior to your Canadian permanent resident application is crucial to successfully become a newcomer. Since landing a PR is inextricably tied to work experience, more years in the Canadian workforce will prop up your chances of qualifying for an invitation to any one of the country’s economic class immigration pathways

According to Vancouver-based content creator Rachel Dancel — whose videos on student immigration in Canada garner a large social media following — the one mistake that can cost international students their PR status is not studying long enough in a Canadian institution.


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♬ Steven Universe – L.Dre

Dancel speaks from her own experience of studying just one year in Canada, which entitled her for only one year of work under the post-graduation work permit (PGWP). The PGWP is a one-time, non-renewable, work permit for international graduates in Canada that corresponds with the applicant’s years of study, granted up to three years. Once it expires, students will have to apply for a different permit to remain and work in the country. 

In Dancel’s case, luck and timing played a huge role in her student-to-immigrant transition. Landing a skilled job just two weeks after completing her studies, she was able to fulfil the minimum one-year work experience criteria to qualify for a PR. Others might not be so lucky if placed in a similar situation, considering the short time window available between job applications and getting an offer, while still meeting the work requirements for a PR.

Things to avoid if you want to become a Canadian permanent resident

Whether it’s time or money, overlooking the smallest details could potentially jeopardise your immigration outcome at the end of the day. As an international student, here are some don’ts that you should steer clear of in your Canadian PR pursuit: 

Don’t violate your study permit conditions

It’s tempting to want to slot in more hours at work while studying for that extra pay, but doing so could affect your status as a student in Canada. Your study permit comes with a 20-hour weekly work limit during the academic term; it’s illegal to go against the conditions of your study permit. You could lose your right to study and live in Canada, which will effectively end your PR campaign in the long run. 

Becoming a Canadian permanent resident

The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows international graduates to work in Canada for up to three years, and is usually the first step towards securing a PR status. Source: Sebastien St-Jean/AFP

Don’t wait until after graduation to apply for your PGWP

That’s right — you don’t actually have to wait after your graduation ceremony to begin your post-graduation job search. You can start filing your PGWP application the moment all your exams and classes are done, as long as you have an official letter from your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) confirming that you’re eligible for graduation.

You only have 180 days after completing your studies to apply for a PGWP, so you want to make the most with the time that you have before your study permit expires. 

Don’t accept the first job offer that comes your way

Not all jobs are created equally, and some just won’t count towards your immigration points. To qualify for a PR as a skilled migrant, you need to have full-time work experience in “skilled” jobs. These fall under the Skill Type Zero, Level A, or Level B according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC). Failing to meet this criteria limits your chances of immigrating to Canada, so make sure the job offer you get aligns with the requirements needed for a PR.