The Canadian Chamber policy resolution supporting retention of international students put forward by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce and Spruce Grove Chamber of Commerce was widely supported by Canadian Chambers from across the country.
The resolution highlighted how jurisdictions across Canada are searching for ways to attract and retain more international students. A significant impediment to these efforts are policies that make it more difficult for these students to obtain work experience while attending Canadian post-secondary institutions or immediately after graduation. These restrictions have both (a) legal ramifications such as permanent residency/citizenship requirements; and (b) practical implications such as connecting with the student’s host community, making post-graduation career contacts, and gaining work experience – which employers are increasingly demanding from graduates.
The supported resolution recommends that the Canadian Chamber advocate for the federal government to:
1. Allow international students to qualify for the Canada Summer Jobs program.
2. Modify student permits to allow international students to participate in co-op terms and internships without obtaining a separate work permit.
3. Extend post-graduate job-search period from 90 days to 6 months, thereby eliminating the need for a ‘bridge’ extension study permit.
4. Count all time spent in Canada as an international student towards citizenship eligibility (i.e. increase from half-time to full-time).
5. Change the length of time for which a post-graduation work permit can be valid to five years (from the current three years), regardless of the program of study, so long as it was at a recognized Canadian academic institution.
6. Expedite the process for international students to receive visas as well as the processing times for their permanent residency applications so long as they graduated from a recognized Canadian institution and are currently employed within Canada.
The endorsement of this resolution is an important step toward the Chamber’s advocacy goal to support population growth in PEI through immigration and youth retention.