Transitioning to Permanent Residence

Many foreign nationals who come to study in Canada want to remain in Canada permanently and will want to apply for permanent residence.

Most foreign students will not qualify for permanent residence until they have at least one year of qualifying full-time work experience in Canada. This work experience must have been gained after a foreign national has completed their studies. Any work experience obtained during their program of study, or as part of a co-op or internship, will not be considered.

Canadian Experience Class

Foreign students who have completed their program of study may qualify under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The CEC is one of the three economic streams available under Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (Immigration Canada) Express Entry program.

To qualify under the CEC, a foreign national must demonstrate that they: 

  • Have, at minimum, one year of Canadian full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work experience, in one or more occupations that are at the management, professional or technical level (levels O, A or B under the National Occupational Classification (NOC)), obtained within the last three years; and
  • Meet the minimum language capabilities in English or French in each of the four language abilities:
    • For NOC skill type level 0 or A, a minimum of CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) 7 is required;
    • For NOC skill type level B, a minimum of CLB 5 is required;

Under the CEC, the work experience obtained does not have to be related to the foreign national’s field of study. 

Even if one qualifies under the CEC it does not mean that they will be selected to submit an application for permanent residence under the Express Entry program.  If a foreign national meets the minimum criteria, their Express Entry profile will be placed in the pool of applicants. Once in the pool of applicants, a foreign national’s profile will be awarded points based on the information contained in their Express Entry profile, and then they will be ranked against all other candidates in the Express Entry pool. They will be awarded a points based on the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) matrix. As part of the matrix, a foreign national may receive additional points for having a diploma from a Canadian institution.

Depending on the foreign national’s field of study, and the province where the studies were completed and where the foreign national wishes to reside, other programs may be available to them.