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The best immigration pathways for international students in Canada

The best immigration pathways for international students in Canada

In 2021, Canada accepted almost 450,000 international students. This country is considered to be one of the world’s top destinations for international students to acquire post-secondary education. The reason for this is not only the high quality of education but also the opportunities for transition to permanent residency (PR) in the country. 

After graduation, international students obtain a number of options to stay in Canada. Gaining Canadian work experience makes graduates the best suited for Canadian immigration programs. Thus, upon graduation, international students first consider getting a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which allows them to stay and work in Canada for up to three years. Then, after acquiring the needed Canadian work experience, they apply to PR.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) accepts immigrants under more than 100 immigration programs. Thus, there is always a pathway for a foreign student in any background and profession. In the upcoming paragraphs, we will provide you with the best immigration options for international graduates. 

Immigration to Canada under the federal programs

International students can immigrate to Canada via Express Entry (EE) as economic-class immigrants under the 3 Federal High Skilled immigration programs: Canadian Experience Class (CEC), Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). Depending on the student’s profession, an international graduate may be eligible for multiple programs.

Immigration to Canada through the provincial programs

Almost every province and territory in Canada operates its own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and welcomes skilled workers to strengthen their economies. Currently, PNP is the leading way to immigrate to Canada which also makes it very popular for international students. Some PNPs require graduates to have at least one year of work experience while others accept international students just with job offers. To obtain a PR through PNP, international students have to undergo a two-step process. First, they have to receive a provincial nomination from the province they intend to settle and then support their application for Canadian PR with the Federal Government. 

Canadian provinces and their programs for international graduates 


Ontario offers two streams, especially for international graduates. These are the Master’s Graduate Stream and the PhD Graduate Stream for Master’s and PhD graduates respectively. Upon graduation, students do not have to possess a job offer to be eligible for these programs. In addition, the Employer Job Offer streams also have a subcategory for International graduates. 

British Columbia

British Columbia accepts international graduates via the Express Entry British Columbia and the Skills Immigration streams. Both programs require candidates to have a valid job offer. However, those eligible for the International Post-Graduate Category are not required to provide a job offer. 


Manitoba has launched the International Education Stream for graduates of the province’s post-secondary institutions. International graduates can apply under the stream’s three pathways: Career Employment Pathway, Student Entrepreneur Pathway, and Graduate Internship Pathway.


Saskatchewan allows students who recently graduated from an eligible Canadian post-secondary to apply for PR under the Saskatchewan Experience Category. Graduates need to possess a full-time job offer from an approved Saskatchewan employer which is registered on the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) employer website and then submit their applications to the SINP.  

New Brunswick 

Graduates from New Brunswick can apply for PR under the New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream. This stream is not specifically for international graduates however many international students who completed their studies in New Brunswick choose this stream. Applicants must have a job offer from an approved New Brunswick employer and one-year work experience to apply for PR.

Prince Edward Island 

Prince Edward Island offers the International Graduate Stream for recent grads of the province’s post-secondary institutes. International graduates applying under this stream must have a job offer in the province in a skilled profession related to their field of study.

Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotia accepts international students under the International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. To be eligible for this program, graduates need to have at least two years of full-time study at a Nova Scotia university or college and operate their own business in the province for at least one year.

Newfoundland and Labrador 

Newfoundland and Labrador has launched two streams for international graduates. The first is the International Graduate Category is for graduates of any eligible Canadian institution who possess a job offer in their field of study from an approved Newfoundland and Labrador employer. The second is the International Graduate Entrepreneur Category for international students who want to start a business in the province.

Atlantic Immigration Program 

The Atlantic Immigration Program allows employers from four Atlantic provinces to hire foreign talents and provide them with PR. International graduates from eligible institutions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick prefer the Atlantic International Graduate Program since it allows them to apply for PR without having Canadian work experience.

Above mentioned programs are not all PNPs that international graduates can apply for, but here are some of the options that are tailored for international graduates. If you are an international student in Canada or a recent graduate and want to apply for PR in Canada, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with our immigration consultants.

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The best immigration pathways for international students in Canada - Glinks International