Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum says his government will be looking at ways to make the immigration process easier for international students. "International students are the best source of immigrants, in the sense that they're educated, they're young, they speak English or French, they know something of the country," he said. "So we should be doing everything we can do to court them."
The country’s Liberal government is looking to ease some rules to make it easier for international students who feel that they have been neglected by the previous Conservative government’s “express entry” route to permanent residency.
Express entry was launched by as a way to fill the country's labor needs by fast-tracking permanent residency, in six months or less, for highly skilled foreign nationals.
"We must do more to attract students to this country as permanent residents," McCallum said. "International students have been shortchanged by the express entry system. They are the cream of the crop, in terms of potential future Canadians."
McCallum said he was committed to reforming the system "to be more welcoming to international students."
"I do know that it's become more difficult since express entry for international students to become permanent residents, and I believe that international students are among the most fertile source of new immigrants for Canada.
"By definition they're educated—they speak English or French—they know something about the country. So they should be first on our list of people whom we court to come to Canada," McCallum said.
McCallum also said he is also reviewing the need for employers to apply for a labor market impact assessment—a current requirement to hire a foreign national over a Canadian one which has been criticized by business groups.
The Liberals are moving forward with reforms, including Bill C-6, which proposes to count 50% of the time a foreign national spends in Canada before receiving permanent residency toward Canadian citizenship—a move that would also help international students.
Many international students have been calling on the government to give them extra points for post-secondary credentials obtained in Canada by making some changes to the system used to rank foreign nationals under express entry.