There are loads of students from all across the world flocking to Canada and you will notice that after completing their studies in Canada, most international students usually settle in the country as permanent residents and go on to become Canadian citizens.
So, if you have plans to study in Canada with the hope of getting Canadian citizenship through your student visa, you are reading the right article. There are many pathways an international student can leverage to transit from a student visa to becoming a Canadian permanent resident or citizen.
It might interest you to note that a lot of Canada’s permanent residency immigration programs give an advantage to people who have a connection to Canada, either with ties to a specific province, Canadian work experience, or a Canadian educational credential. Canadian international students can benefit from some or all of these advantages if they choose to pursue immigration to Canada permanently.
Aside from the fact that you are qualified to access the different pathways that will lead you to become a Canadian citizen as a student, it is important to state that most of Canada’s immigration programs require a certain amount of skilled work experience, which may place international students at a disadvantage.
Though, almost all international student graduates in Canada are eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit which authorizes them to work in Canada and gain the required work experience needed to apply for permeant residency.
How to Get Canadian Citizenship Through Student Visa
Here are some of the pathways that an international student can follow to become a Canadian Permanent Resident and then go on to obtain their Canadian Citizenship;
- Canadian Experience Class
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Provincial Nominee Programs
- Post-Graduation Work Permits
- Quebec Immigration Options
Table of Contents
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is one of the fastest ways to obtain Canadian permanent residence. While there is a range of eligibility factors for this program, including age, language proficiency, and level of education, to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class, student applicants must have at least 12 months of work experience in Canada, in a skilled occupation (candidates must apply within three years of obtaining their 1-year qualifying experience).
Students can obtain requisite work experience in Canada by applying for a Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit. It is important to note that part-time work experience earned during studies or as part of a study program (such as internships and co-ops) does not count toward the Canadian work experience requirement.
An important condition of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is that work experience gained during a period of full-time study does not count towards the 12-month requirement, so international students cannot count on work experience gained during their study program.
However, once an international student graduates, they will likely become eligible for a post-graduation work permit, which will allow them to gain the work experience needed to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.
Please note that the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program is operated through the Express Entry immigration system.
Federal Skilled Worker Program
Another pathway an international student can follow to become a Canadian Citizen is the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program. Unlike the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), FSW does not require a person to have Canadian work experience, so this is a good option for international student graduates who already gained skilled work experience abroad.
Please note that the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program is a merit-based immigration program and it is a points-based Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score that automatically ranks candidates against one another, only inviting those candidates with the most competitive profiles to apply for permanent residence.
Interestingly, if an international student meets the eligibility requirements and is highly competitive within the CRS scoring system, Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program can be a great pathway to becoming a permanent resident.
It should be noted that the FSW program does require that applicants prove they have a minimum of 12-months of full-time, continuous, skilled work experience, completed in any country, or an equivalent amount in part-time experience.
For international students who have never entered the workforce, this program will not be an option. Please note that the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program is operated through the Express Entry immigration system.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Each of Canada’s provinces and territories operates its own immigration programs, called Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Every Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) works differently since they are designed to meet the needs of that specific province or territory.
Many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) give preference to applicants who have some kind of connection to the province, including the previous studies completed within the province and work experience gained in the province.
Depending on the province where an international student completed their program of study, they may be eligible to apply for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) within that province. Please note that Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) is a popular Canadian immigration option as applications for Canadian permanent residency are typically processed faster compared to other immigration programs.
Post-Graduation Work Permits
Post-Graduation Work Permits is yet another pathway that an international student to follow to becoming a Canadian Citizen. Although a post-graduation work permit is not a direct permanent residence program, one thing is certain, it does allow most international students who have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) to remain in Canada after their period of study and work with any employer in Canada.
This experience can help a person to qualify for Canadian permanent residence, usually through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or an employer-driven Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Please note that not all programs offered at DLIs are eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
Quebec Immigration Options
If you are a student in the province of Quebec, you can take advantage of their immigration option. This is because the province of Quebec operates its own immigration system, with requirements and procedures different from other provinces in Canada.
However, similar to the rest of Canada, Quebec’s immigration programs are designed in such a way that international students do have advantages when applying for permanent residence. Interestingly, Quebec’s two main permanent residence programs have streams designed for international students in Quebec and they are;
Quebec Experience Program (PEQ)
Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) requires students to have completed their program of study or to be within 6 months of completing their studies at an institution in Quebec. Please note that to qualify for Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), an international student must demonstrate an advanced intermediate knowledge of oral French.
Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW)
Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) may be an option for international students in Quebec who have completed or are in the process of completing an educational credential in Quebec. Unlike the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) program, Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) does not have a mandatory French proficiency requirement, but candidates must meet a minimum score on the program’s points assessment grid.
Please note that an international student who has completed a recognized program of study in Quebec, and who possesses an intermediate level of proficiency in the French language may qualify under this Canadian immigration program. Canadian work experience is not required for this Quebec immigration program.
As an international student studying in Canada, you may apply for Canadian permanent resident status while studying or after completing your studies, provided you meet the requirements of the Canadian immigration program under which you apply.
Applying for a Canadian study permit and Canadian permanent resident status at the same time is referred to as “dual intent”, and such practice is common and accepted by Canadian immigration law. Please note that all the pathways (programs) listed above are operated through Canada’s Express Entry system, the federal system for managing permanent resident applications.