ANALYSIS: There remain plenty of opportunities for international graduates to become Canadian permanent residents.
Many were hoping to benefit from the English-speaking International Graduates stream that Canada launched on May 6.
This was the most popular of the six streams introduced by Canada to allow some 90,000 additional international graduates and essential workers to apply for permanent residence. The two English-speaking essential worker streams have a quota of 50,000 applications combined while the quota for the English-speaking International Graduate stream was 40,000 applications.
Undoubtedly, there are candidates who are disappointed they did not have a chance to submit their application in time. Common reasons why they were unable to do so include not yet having an IELTS General Training or CELPIP test result in hand to show they meet the government’s English language proficiency requirement. Some may not have been able to submit their payment receipt in time (a technical glitch that some candidates faced on May 6 and the morning of May 7). Others may not have been employed at the time of the streams launching for various reasons (e.g., they were due to start a new job after the streams launched).
Whatever the reason may be, such individuals should not lose sight of the following possibilities.
IRCC may accept more applications under the English-speaking International Graduate stream
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will eventually begin to review the 40,000 applications, a process which inevitably entails refusing applications that do not meet IRCC’s criteria.
IRCC may then surprise us yet again.
IRCC is not yet in a position to comment on this, and have not made any indication to this effect, but it may eventually welcome more English-speaking graduate stream applicants to compensate for the refusals. IRCC has done this in the recent past after holding their Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) lotteries. Some of those invited through the lottery choose not to go ahead and submit applications, resulting in IRCC then inviting new applicants.
Another possibility is that some candidates were eligible for both the graduate stream and an essential worker stream, and decided to submit two applications (and also pay double the application fee). To increase the number permanent residents it lands under the graduate stream, IRCC may choose to process such individuals under an essential worker stream. So far, the worker streams have predictably garnered far less interest than the graduate stream (graduates are a much larger population in Canada than foreign workers).
If IRCC falls short of achieving its 50,000 quota under the English-speaking essential worker streams, it may shift those spots over to the graduate stream. This is one option. Another would be to increase the number of eligible occupations under the essential worker streams, which would in turn, help more study permit holders and graduates become eligible under this temporary public policy.
It is also worth remembering that IRCC’s Immigration Levels Plan is flexible and is never set in stone. The levels plan is a guide, but in reality, the number of immigrants and their entry categories are determined by many variables within, and outside of, IRCC’s control. These variables include IRCC’s processing capacity, the processing capacity of provinces and territories, demand among immigration candidates, the ability of candidates to obtain and submit their documents in a timely fashion, among other reasons.
The biggest variable right now is the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic will continue to result in changes to the levels plan. For instance, there is potential that IRCC will need to transition even more people in Canada to permanent residence due to border restrictions remaining in place for longer. It is likely that IRCC anticipated the border restrictions would be lifted sometime in 2021 when it finalized its levels plan last October. However, the likelihood of the restrictions being lifted this year is now anyone’s guess.
Graduates: What you can do now
Some graduates with upcoming IELTS and CELPIP test dates scheduled may lean towards cancelling or postponing them since the graduate stream is now closed. Perhaps they are not eligible for another Canadian immigration program now or do not want to submit an application now (e.g., maybe they want to gain more Canadian work experience or education).
It may be worthwhile to ensure you meet all the criteria of the closed graduate stream in case IRCC decides to welcome more applications. Completing your English-language test and obtaining all your documents has few downsides but tremendous upside. Perhaps the only downside is the validity of your language test may expire if you do not submit a permanent residence application after two years. However, on the upside, being ready now gives you a chance if IRCC opens the doors again for this stream. Moreover, with all your documents in hand, you will be prepared to submit your immigration application when you are ready.
Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and many of the over 100 different immigration pathways in Canada provide an advantage to international graduates. Being prepared now, in spite of the graduate stream cap being reached, will provide you with an added advantage.
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