Yes. You can change your Canadian student visa to Canadian permanent resident status while studying in Canada or after completing your studies, as long as you meet the requirements of the Canadian immigration program under which you choose to apply.

Applying for a Canadian study permit and Canadian permanent resident status at the same time is noted as “dual intent”, and such practice is common and not against the Canadian Immigration law.

Truth be told, a good number of Canada’s permanent residency immigration programs offer an upper hand to applicants who have a connection to Canada, either with ties to a specific province, Canadian work experience, or a Canadian educational credential.

Have it in mind that international students in Canada can benefit from some or all of these if they decide to seek immigration to Canada permanently. Canada’s federal express entry programs and many Provincial Nominee Programs offer bonus points for candidates who studied and graduated in Canada.

Nonetheless, there are several other factors to take into consideration if you want to change your student visa to permanent residence. Just as it was noted above, Canada offers many opportunities for international students, encouraging them to stay in the country after their studies.

How Long Will It Take to Change Canadian Student Visa to Permanent Residence

The time it will take to change your Canadian student visa to permanent residence will vary based on the immigration program under which you choose to apply. While you can qualify for permanent residency just after one year of being a student in the country, have it in mind that Express Entry draws take place every couple of weeks, and top-ranked candidates are invited to apply for PR.

Once you get invited, you then have 60 days to submit a complete application. Ideally, the timeframe for processing completed applications is six months. 

What is the Process/Requirements/Cost to Change Canadian Student Visa to Permanent Residence

These will depend on the immigration program under which you choose to apply. Note there are many immigration programs available to international students and each of these programs operates differently and features its own specific requirements aside from completing Canadian studies. Below are the different Canadian immigration programs students may consider coupled with their qualifications and costs.

  1. Canadian Experience Class

Managed via the Express Entry immigration system, this immigration program remains one of the fastest ways to change your student visa to Canadian permanent residence.

Although there are requirements you will be expected to meet, have it in mind that applicants are expected to prove they have at least 12-months of continuous, full-time, skilled work experience in Canada within the previous three years, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience. As long as an international student can prove this level of work experience, CEC is a great immigration option!

Requirements and Cost
  • This program features no education requirement, but you can get additional points for your Canadian education.
  • Prove your language ability in either English or French by taking a recognized test.
    • CLB 7 is required if your NOC is 0 or A
    • CLB 5 is required if your NOC is B
  • Have and show at least 12 months (full or part-time work, or a combination of both) of Canadian skilled work experience in NOC 0, A, or B. Work experience gained while you were a full-time student (even if you were on a co-op work term) won’t count toward the minimum requirements for this program.
  • Create an Express Entry profile.
  • $550 as processing fee and $515 as Right of Permanent Residence Fee.
  1. Federal Skilled Worker Class

Also managed via the Express Entry pool, this is genuinely the best route to consider if you can’t show proof of one year of skilled work in Canada but have done so abroad. However, you will be expected to score at least 67 points on a grid that evaluates age, language ability, work experience, whether or not you have a job offer in Canada, and certain adaptability factors, one of which is a previous study in Canada.

Requirements and Cost
  • This program comes with no education requirement, but you can get additional points for your Canadian education.
  • Prove your language ability in either English or French by taking a recognized test.
  • CLB 7 is required for all NOCs
  • Show proof of at least 12 months (full or part-time work, or a combination of both) of continuous work experience in NOC 0, A, or B. Also, note that work experience obtained while you were studying in Canada may count towards your minimum requirements if the work:
    • Was paid by wages or commissions;
    • Was continuous (no gaps in employment); and
    • Meets all the other requirements of the program.
  • You are also expected to show that you have a substantial fund for you and your family to settle in Canada unless you:
    • Are presently permitted to legally work in Canada; OR
    • Have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada
  • Create an Express Entry profile.
  • Processing fee ($1365) and right of permanent residence fee ($515)
  1. Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)

Note that this Immigration program is the only federal economic immigration program that genuinely prioritizes immigration to Canada for workers in trade occupations. As an international student, you may qualify as a tradesperson and this can help you change your Canadian student visa to permanent residence.

Requirements and Cost
  • It also comes with no education requirement, but you can get additional points for your Canadian education.
  • Show proof of your language ability in either English or French by taking a recognized test.
    • CLB 5 for speaking and listening
    • CLB 4 for reading and writing
  • Have at least two years of work experience (within the last five years) in a skilled trade under key groups of NOC B (major groups 72, 73, 82, 92, 632, and 633).
  • An offer of full-time employment for a total period of at least one year OR a certificate of qualification in that skilled trade provided by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority is required.
  • You are also expected to show that you have adequate money for you and your family to settle in Canada unless you:
    • Are currently able to legally work in Canada; OR
    • Have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada
  • Get evaluated by the province or territory for your trade. You may also require an employer in Canada to offer you experience and training. To understand more about getting evaluated, visit the website of the body that handles trades for the province/territory where you would like to live and work. This process will vary, depending on where you intend to go. If your trade is not regulated by a province or territory, it may be federally regulated. Note that you can find out who regulates your trade by visiting the website of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.
  • Create an Express Entry profile.
  • Processing fee ($825) and right of permanent residence fee ($515).
  1. Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Same with the federal government, Canada’s provinces also want international students and graduates to stay and work. Owing to that, if the Express Entry doesn’t represent a viable option for you now or shortly, or if you are struggling to meet the CRS cut-off thresholds in Express Entry pools, you should consider the PNPs.

Requirements and Cost
  • Complete your studies in Canada.
  • Show proof of your language ability in either English or French by taking a recognized test.
  • Qualifying levels vary by province
  • Gather work experience. Requirements and eligibility vary by province.
  • A job offer may be required (requirements vary by province).
  • Create an Express Entry profile or apply directly to the province.
  • The cost will also vary, but in most provinces, you will have to pay fees ranging from $0 to $3,500.
  1. Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP): International graduate stream

This is more or less a permanent residency route for skilled foreign workers and international graduates who intend to work and live in one of Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Requirements and Cost
  • Complete your studies at a publicly funded post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada. The program is expected to have been for at least two years. And you should have graduated from this institution 24 months before submitting your PR application.
  • You are expected to have been a full-time student for the entire duration of your studies.
  • Must have lived in an Atlantic province for at least 16 months in the two years before obtaining your degree, diploma, or credential.
  • If you have education credentials from outside Canada you want to include, you will need to have that education assessed.
  • Prove your language ability in either English or French by taking a recognized test.
  • CLB 4 is required
  • A full-time job offer from a designated employer in Atlantic Canada for NOC 0, A, B, or C is required. This offer is expected to last at least one year from the date PR is granted and should be non-seasonal.
  • Prove that you have adequate funding to support yourself and your family when you get to Canada.
  • You have the visa or permit required to work, study or train in Canada.
  • Processing fee ($850) and right of permanent residence fee ($515).

Conclusion

Aside from having multiple routes to go through when looking to change your Canadian student visa to permanent residence, know that you will be awarded additional points in your application to study and work in Canada, and this will most likely increase the probability of getting an invitation to apply for PR sooner than other applicant categories.

However, also make sure you take into consideration the province you intend to settle in and if any restrictions may apply to your case.