student looking in her computer for immigration options in Canada
Phuong Aftosmes

Phuong Aftosmes


Immigration Options for Graduates in Canada

Canada is planning on welcome 401,000 immigrants in 2021. International Students have a lot of immigration options to choose from and chances to be permanent residents in Canada after their graduation are very high.

International students have several options to stay in Canada after their graduation.

Students can be ideal candidates to become permanent residents of Canada if they have a Canadian credential and Canadian Work Experience. Graduated students who don’t have Canadian experience have the opportunity to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), this open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada and is valid for up to three years. 

Once they are a PGWP holder, they are allowed to apply for Permanent Residence (PR) at any time during their stay in Canada. If your PGWP expires while you are waiting on a decision for your PR application, you may be able to stay in Canada on a Bridging Open Work Permit. This is how to extend your Post-Graduate Work Permit when your PGWP expires.

If you have gained valuable Canadian work experience during your study time at school or with a PGWP, you will have more than 100 economic immigration pathways to choose from. Here is a list of some of the options for international student graduates in Canada.

Express Entry is the main pathway for international students to apply for PR. It is an application management system for the three Federal High Skilled immigration programs: 

– Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

– Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)

– Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

You can be eligible for multiple programs once you have a profile in the Express Entry pool. Express Entry uses a points system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), you will be given a CRS score based on factors such as your age, education, work experience, and language proficiency. The highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence in regularly held Express Entry draws. It is free to enter the pool but you will have to pay if you want to get permanent residence.

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces to offer pathways to permanent residence to immigrants who would be a good match for their labour market. Most Canadian provinces operate their own PNPs. It is a two-step process to become a permanent resident through a PNP. First, you apply for a provincial nomination from the province. Then, if you get the nomination, it supports your application for Canadian permanent residence.


There are some immigration streams that are tailored for international student graduates:



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Ontario has two streams dedicated to international student graduates: the Master’s Graduate Stream, and the PhD Graduate Stream. Neither of these programs requires you to have job offers to apply.

The view of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from Lake Ontario.

The view of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from Lake Ontario.


Manitoba has the International Education Stream dedicated to those who graduated from a learning institution from within the province. This stream has three sub-categories:  Career Employment Pathway, Graduate Internship Pathway, and the Student Entrepreneur Pathway


Students who recently graduated from a Saskatchewan post-secondary institution may be eligible to apply through the Students sub-category under the Saskatchewan Experience Category. You will need to have a full-time job offer from an employer approved by the province

The beautiful city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in the summer.

British Columbia

British Columbia has a few options for international graduates through the Express Entry B.C. stream and the Skills Immigration stream. Most sub-streams require a job offer. However, you will not need one if you are eligible for the International Post-Graduate Category.

New Brunswick

Graduates from New Brunswick may be eligible for the New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream. This program is for foreigners who have a job offer from a New Brunswick employer. They allow people who completed a one-year program at a New Brunswick post-secondary to skip the one-year work experience requirement.

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI)

P.E.I. graduates who have a job offer in the province that is aligned with the graduate’s field of study can apply through the International Graduate Stream.

 An image of a lighthouse in Cedar Dunes Provincial Park in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador offer two streams for graduate students. If you graduated from any Canadian institution (even if it is outside the province), and you are working or have a job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer (job must be in the field of your study), you can apply through the International Graduate Category.

Graduates who wish to run a business in the province can also consider the International Graduate Entrepreneur Category.

Nova Scotia

The International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is for graduates who have at least two years of full-time study at a Nova Scotia university or college. You need to have operated your own business in the province for at least one year and intend to make Nova Scotia your new home.

Quebec does not have a PNP but has its economic immigration program. If you studied in Quebec, you may consider the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ). You will need to have enough work experience, a job offer and must have a strong command of French.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot lets employers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, hire foreign talent and provide a pathway to permanent residence.

Graduates from a post-secondary in Atlantic Canada can apply through the Atlantic International Graduate Program. You do not need to have previous work experience.

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