WANTED: International Students

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Canadian Government is looking to attract more international university students to Canadian universities. Until last week, Canadian Universities were at a disadvantage when compared to universities in the US, Australia and the UK. The good news for international students and universities looking to attract them as well came on April 21, 2008. On that date, Immigration Canada announced changes to the rules for international students seeking post-graduate employment. The new rules remove several difficult hurdles faced by international students thus far.

Until the rules for post-graduate work were changed on the 21st, international students faced a bleak reality upon graduation. First, international students had only 90 days following graduation to secure emplyment. During those 90 days, graduates could not secure temporary employment to make ends meet until a permanent position could be found. Also, international graduates could only gain a work visa for 2 years maximum. Third, before an international graduate was required to secure an offer of employment before applying for a work visa. Lastly, international graduates were required to find a job directly related to their field or major. The most daunting part of this last point was that Immigration Canada was the body that decided if a job was related to one's field.

Benny Quay, the University of Guelph international Student Advisor, explained how the rules were better for international students. "I once had a student that greduated in sociology and recieved a job offer to be an orientation coordinator, working with people and social organizations. And Immigration Canada said that the job was not related to his field." The new rules remove such limitations, and allow international graduates to aquire a work permit prior to recieving a job offer and no longer requires that graduates work in their field. However, to gain permanent residency, 1 year's work experience in the graduate's field is still required. "You should apply for it immediately." Quay said for graduating international students.

For many international students, this is a huge weight from their shoulders. For students in some fields, finding employment in one's field is easier. On the other hand students wishing to pursue more abstract topics of study (philosophy, fine arts, theater, sociology, etc.) faced a major wall to remaining in Canada following graduation. Now internation graduates face only an up-hill path rather than a road block.

For more information on the changes read the release from Immigration Canada.

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