Foreign students in Canada misled by agents over post-grad work
For these students, it may be goodbye Canada. Source: Flickr

Dozens of foreign students in a private college in Edmonton, Canada are now in a bind as they discover they have been misled about their chances of extending their stays in Canada after graduating from their two-year diploma programme.

They had enrolled in the school with the hopes of getting a post-graduate work permit after completing their diploma. This was what they had been advised by their immigration consultants, the students say, according to CBC.

“These students will be graduating and their hope is to get that open work permit but that’s not going to happen,” said Marco Luciano, from immigrant advocacy group Migrante Alberta.

“With these 80 students, a lot of them have indicated they can’t go back home … they will stay, they will be here, trying to live and trying to survive, under the radar.”

The post-graduate work permit is a federal government programme in Canada, but the provincial government decides which schools and programs are eligible.

“Eligible programmes include degree, diploma, and certificate programmes at publicly-funded post-secondary institutions, and ministry-approved degree programmes at private institutions,” Advanced Education Ministry’s Samantha Power wrote in an emailed statement to CBC.

Power said there are currently no ministry-approved degree programmes at private institutions eligible.

“This has been widely communicated with private career colleges and many student inquirers for several years, and no changes to the federal program have been made,” Power wrote.

‘I gave my agent my full trust’

However, foreign students say all the above were not told to them upfront by their immigration agents, schools and even the government website.

One such student was Edeline Agoncillo. Her immigration consultant had advised her to apply for a hospitality management programme at Solomon College in Edmonton.

According to Agoncillo, her agent made the process “sound easy” and that the Filipino student would be able to get a post-graduate work permit after two years at the college.

Agoncillo took out loans against her property and her parents’ back home so that she could pay for the tuition fees and consultant fees, which go up to thousands of dollars.

“This is my great dream to set foot in (Canada).”

“The mentality was, ‘We know the rules’… I gave my agent my full trust.”

Ben Lau, the college’s programme manager, says while it is possible for students to get the work permit, based on past students’ success, they do not have the final say.

“We have had students who have successfully got it. That’s why we believe that this is possible,” Lau said.

“We never promise anything, but we told them we have students getting the post-graduate work permit before. But it’s not our authority to say yes or no, so I always refer them to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada and ask them to check whether they’re eligible or not.”

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