Pathways for international students working during their studies and post-graduation
A conversation with Heather Michaud, Outreach Officer, Dedicated Service Channel, Domestic Network, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
“Our programs are designed to help bring skilled newcomers to Canada. In turn they contribute their skills toward developing local economies across the country,” says Heather Michaud, an outreach officer with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for British Columbia and the Yukon.
Heather’s role is to demystify work permit and permanent residence programs and explain how Canadian employers can use the immigration system to attract and retain talent, fill skills gaps in the workforce, and help drive economic growth.
She also regularly speaks at information sessions at publicly funded learning institutions across the province and meets with international student advisors to make sure they have the knowledge they need to properly advise international students on working during studies and qualifying for post-graduation work permits.
For international students, IRCC’s Post-Graduation Work Permit is key as it allows international graduates to gain Canadian work experience that will help them qualify for permanent residence through federal or provincial immigration programs.
“One of the goals of the Post-Graduation Work Permit is to retain international graduate talent in Canada. BC is one of the largest provinces to host international students, so it’s important both advisors and the students themselves are aware of what programs are available for them,” says Heather.
Heather notes there are a lot of pitfalls international students may not be aware of when they are going to school and working part-time, such as working too many hours a week off-campus or dropping courses. International students must maintain full-time student status in order to be allowed to work. Heather’s job is to ensure that student advisors keep these students in the know.
Immigration pathways have been expressly designed for international students hoping to make Canada their permanent home to help them gain the qualifications they need to apply successfully through Express Entry or provincial nominee programs.
“It’s exciting to see how these programs that help international students achieve their dreams also benefit the Canadian communities where they live and work,” says Heather.