BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — International students contribute over $21 billion annually to Canada’s economy and support vitality in its communities. As has been the case in many other places, COVID-19 has presented a myriad of challenges for its international students. Most notably, for many holders of a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty have jeopardized their chances of obtaining the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.

As part of the Government of Canada’s efforts to support international students through this challenging time, the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship of Canada has announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit.

Foreign nationals in Canada affected by the pandemic with an expired or expiring PGWP will have a unique chance to apply for another open work permit. These will be valid for 18 months and will allow former international students to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment, and build their future there.

The Canadian government has made significant efforts to encourage international students to settle permanently in Canada, as they help create jobs and fill labour shortages. More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019, and their decisions to stay in Canada will help to address its stark demographic challenges.

As Canada confronts the pandemic’s second wave and charts a course for recovery, attracting skilled immigrants is a central part of its plan. This new policy will help more graduates fill pressing needs in areas like health care, technology and more.