Canada gives former international students priority for open work permits


Canada gives former international students priority for open work permits

Jamaica to Canada

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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Dear Mr Brown:
I heard that Canada is allowing people to apply for open work permits. Please tell me the requirements.

– OM

Dear OM:

The pandemic has created additional obstacles and caused inconveniences globally, and for international students in Canada specifically.

Employment in Canada has been disrupted for graduates who hold a postgraduation work permit (PGWP). The graduates have had their hours of employment cut, or have been laid off and have greater difficulty finding employment.

This situation is of particular significance because without the requisite full-time work experience of at least one year in a skilled position, the chances of obtaining permanent residence for graduates is severely impacted.

To address this issue, the Government of Canada announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit. As such, it does not apply to the general population of applicants.

International students are the best source of permanent residence as they speak English (or French), they are educated, trained and marketable with Canadian qualification, and have Canadian work experience. The Government places priority on international students for these reasons. It is the opposite of the Jamaican situation in which foreign experience is helpful for employment. In Canada, Canadian experience is preferred.

These permits will be valid for 18 months and allow former international students to remain in Canada, and seek employment to increase the chance of obtaining permanent residence. Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021.

To apply for an open work permit under this public policy, an applicant must:

• have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in four months or less from the date they apply;

• still be in Canada; and

• have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status.

Open work permit

An open work permit is a type of work permit that allows a person to work for any employer in Canada (with a few exceptions).

Regular work permit

In contrast to an open work permit, one would need an approved job offer for the position. An approved job offer refers to a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which is based on an assessment of:

• the proposed wages and working conditions; and

• the availability of Canadians or permanent residents to do the work in question, the skills and knowledge transfer, and the job creation for the benefit of Canadians or permanent residents.

In other words, the LMIA states whether the issuance of a work permit to you, as a foreign worker, will have a neutral or positive effect on Canada's economy, ie, offering a job to you does not take a job away from a Canadian. The employer must show recruitment efforts and results for recruiting locally in Canada, and explain how he or she would benefit from offering a job to a foreign worker. This is the reason that obtaining a job in Canada is so difficult for many applicants.

Please visit JAMAICA2CANADA.COM for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including express entry, the study & work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

– Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM—a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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