Alberta set to end international student scheme

The Alberta government is set to end a provincial nomination scheme which made it easier for international students to move to the province permanently.

The Alberta Post-Graduate Worker Category had allowed international students to apply for permanent resident status right after graduation from an Alberta college or university. Unlike other provinces, Alberta didn’t require work experience and allowed graduates to apply with an employment offer for an entry-level job.

However, from January this scheme will be replaced by the Alberta Opportunity Stream, which will eliminate all previous advantages for Alberta graduates.

“This may result in students either leaving the province of Alberta, for a majority of other provinces have international graduate streams, or prevent them from starting courses here to begin with,” Bree Huene, a regulated immigration consultant at the University of Calgary, wrote in an email to Polestar News.

Huene predicted the change will be particularly difficult for students who do short programs and therefore only receive a Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for one year.

“When the changes come out, students will no longer have the easy route of applying with their Post-Graduation Work Permit alone. They will need to gain at least 12 months of full-time work experience, and, if they want to apply directly to the province, will require an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment) which are very complex to obtain.”

While other provincial nominee programs are open to international students, they usually require that the student works for at least one year in a job considered managerial, professional or skilled. The job category is determined by the National Occupation Classification system. However, many entry-level jobs available to recent graduates – both Canadians and international students – do not fit the definition of managerial, professional or skilled. For example, recent graduates who are hired as bank tellers often can’t use that work experience to apply for permanent resident status.

Alberta’s new immigration stream will still offer an immigration path for people who are in entry-level jobs, but the applicant must work the job for at least one year, and the employer must then go through a complicated process to prove that no Canadian worker was available to do the job.

Article published 30th November 2017