Report Finds Problems in Canada's Foreign Student Work Program

April 1, 2016

A program that allows international students in Canada to work for up to three years after graduation is creating a low-wage workforce and encouraging the creation of low-quality university programs, says an internal Citizenship and Immigration Canada report obtained by the CBC.

The report found that the majority of international students employed through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program are employed in low-skilled, low-wage service jobs. The report also found that “low-quality education programs with minimal entry requirements” have developed to take advantage of the program in the wake of 2008 changes extending the possible duration of a work permit and eliminating a requirement that students find work in their field of study.

The availability of postgraduation work opportunities is widely seen as a way to increase a country’s competitiveness in recruiting international students. The United Kingdom experienced declines in international student enrollments -- and in enrollments from India especially -- after it eliminated a two-year poststudy work visa program in 2012. (Students who wish to stay and work in the U.K. still have the option of applying for a general visa if they can find a sponsoring employer paying a wage of £20,800 -- about $30,000 -- or more.) Meanwhile, the United States has issued a new rule, to go into effect May 10, extending the period that international students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields can work after graduation from 29 months to three years.

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