permanent residency Canada
Student unions across Canada are calling for greater government help for international students. Source: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) is urging the government to grant international students permanent residency in Canada. URSU demonstrated outside the office of Regina-Wascana Member of Parliament Michael Kram on Sunday afternoon, as a dozen similar protests took place across the country.

The Migrant Rights Network campaign Status for All kickstarted the nationwide protests on Sunday. URSU president Gurjinder Singh Lehal told local news portal Regina Leader-Post that many international students have not been able to find summer jobs or return to their country.

He said, “They are away from their country, their parents and then they don’t know where COVID-19 will take them in the future, so there’s so much insecurity with this pandemic. So we ask the federal government to provide immigration status, permanent residency, to all the migrants living in the country.”

permanent residency Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced pandemic support schemes, but they are targeted towards citizens. Source: Dave Chan/AFP

Why do international students need permanent residency in Canada?

Granting international students permanent residency in Canada now will allow them to access the same security and support as citizens at a critical time. For example, only a small number of international students were eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). These financial schemes were introduced with Canadians in mind.

“We need to stop living behind the shield (that) every international student that comes here is from a wealthy family, because that is not the case,” said URSU student advocate Kathryn Boyce. “Nobody is saying [to] make anybody a citizen. They’re saying make people permanent residents so that they can qualify for assistance in the things that they need to get through a pandemic.”

permanent residency Canada

A family of four from Pakistan walk down Roxham Road in Champlain New York towards the US-Canada border back in 2017. Canada is well-known for its friendly immigration policies, especially towards refugees. Source: Geoff Robins/AFP

How do international students currently get permanent residency?

International students in Canada are considered temporary residents. This means they are expected to leave the country after graduation unless they apply for a work permit or permanent residency.

You can even apply for temporary (work and study) visas as well as a permanent residency, at the same time. Called dual intent, it allows international students to secure their future in Canada from the time they are studying.

The most common route, however, is to apply for permanent residency after completing a degree. Most graduates do this via Express Entry. You can do it through other migration programmes, including the Canadian Experience Class, Quebec Experience Class, and Provincial Nomination Programs.

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