The Win-Win of Hiring International Students

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Since the publication of the Ivany Report, there has been a lot discussion in Nova Scotia about how we can increase our immigration and retain international students. Recent statistics show that we are making good progress toward this goal.

International students are an ideal source to grow our workforce: they are well-educated, they speak English or French, they have lived and adapted to Canadian society, and they are familiar with our culture. Many of Nova Scotia’s international students want to stay in Nova Scotia after graduation. Most of them have one simple condition – they need to find worthwhile employment.

Hiring an international student is easier than you might think. Any student who obtained a Study Permit and successfully completed a full-time program of study in Canada of at least 8 months at a qualified educational institution is eligible to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an open Work Permit which allows the holder to work for any employer. 

A PGWP cannot be valid for longer than the length of the student’s studies. If the student’s program lasts more than 8 months but less than 2 years, a student can obtain a PGWP for the length of the student’s studies. If the program of study was 2 years or longer, a student can obtain a PGWP valid for 3 years.

A former international student on a PGWP is an ideal candidate for Nova Scotia employers. Unlike other Work Permit programs, in order to hire these candidates, the employer does not need to advertise the position or prove that they were not able to find a qualified Canadian or Permanent Resident to do the job. In fact, the employer need not have any involvement in the immigration process at all before hiring these candidates. There is no extra effort involved in hiring a candidate on a PGWP than hiring a Canadian candidate.

There are several reasons why hiring international students is a win-win both for Nova Scotia employers and for international students. International students may have diverse experiences and connections in other parts of the world which could help grow and expand any business in Nova Scotia, particularly one interested in exporting.  As well, in this increasingly globalized economy, having employees who may speak a different language, are familiar with other cultural norms, and have diverse connections worldwide, can be a significant advantage.

For international students who wish to remain in Canada permanently, gaining skilled work experience in Nova Scotia opens an easy route to Permanent Residence. Once an international graduate has 1 year of full-time, skilled work experience in Nova Scotia, he or she is eligible to apply for Permanent Residence through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program stream called Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry. This immigration stream, as opposed to others, is painless for the employer. The employer’s only role is to provide a letter confirming the length of employment, job title, job duties, number of hours per week, and salary of the employee.  

By hiring international students, employers have access to markets they might otherwise never have an opportunity to tap into and international students have access to a route toward Permanent Residence which is straightforward and simple compared to most other routes.

If Nova Scotia is committed to growing our immigration numbers and making the Province welcoming to newcomers, hiring international students is a great way to accomplish this goal.

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Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.