A Foreign Student’s Guide to Studying in Nova Scotia, Canada
Canada is increasingly pushing to bring in more foreign students to study at its universities and colleges. While the numbers have not reached those of the USA or Australia, the trend is on the rise.
In this article, we will focus Nova Scotia as our province of interest.
Nova Scotia is located in the eastern part of Canada. It consists of a peninsula and off-shore islands, the biggest and most important of which is Cape Breton.
There are 10 universities located in Nova Scotia with six of them having their main campus in the provincial capital Halifax while four outside of the city. Cape Breton University (CBU) is located in Sydney, Cape Breton.
There are also a number of colleges in the province.
Nova Scotia attracts students from around the world, with the bulk of the student population coming from the Asian and Middle Eastern regions.
Why Study in Canada?
Canada has a highly recognized educational system and depending on the university or college you want to study at, tuition can be reasonable. This, coupled with good infrastructure and a generally welcoming attitude towards foreign students, makes the country very attractive to foreign students.
In addition to this, Canada also makes it easier for successful foreign students to become permanent residents and eventually citizens, provided certain criteria are met.
Now, let’s talk some facts about study permit, work permit and the pathway to Canadian permanent residence.
- Studying at a Canadian University or College
The Key Steps
- Obviously, the first action to take to study in Canada is to apply for a course/program that is being offered by a designated university or college.
- If the college or the university accepts the application, they will send the offer letter.
- The applicant should take this offer letter along with other documents requested by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), which regulates immigration and grants visas, to the local Canadian embassy/high commission or consulate to apply for a student visa.
Details of documents and and application form can be found at:
- If the CIC is satisfied with the application, they will issue a study permit that allows the applicant to study and live in Canada.
It is advisable for potential students to choose a degree or any other certification with a duration of at least one academic year or more. This gives them more time to look for jobs once they complete their studies. We will discuss this subject later in the same article.
Working While Studying
This study permit also allows the student to work off-campus, but the student should meet the following criteria to do so: –
- Have a valid study permit as a full time student
- Enrolled in a program that gives the student a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six months in duration.
If these criteria are met, the student can work up to 20 hours/week during regular academic sessions, and work full-time during scheduled breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break.
Extension of Your Stay as a Student
- As a student in Canada, there is a provision to extend your stay as a student with proper application and documents submitted to CIC within Canada.
- One can apply by filling the form (IMM5709). This form is known as “Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada as a Student”
- Along with the above form, one has to submit other related documents. Details of the process can be found at:
- Stay and Work in Canada After Graduation
Once they have completed their studies, some students return home or move to other countries for further study.
However, a significant number of students would like to explore the possibility of working in Canada to eventually become Canadian permanent residents and then citizens.
To be able to work after you graduate (that is, assuming your study permit expires once you graduate), you must apply for a work permit under the Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).
The PGWPP is an excellent platform and an incentive to come to Canada for higher studies as this gives you the opportunity to stay in Canada to look for work after graduation.
This work permit may be issued on completion of the study program and will be generally issued to match the duration of the program but to a maximum of three years.
The Post Graduate Work Permit cannot exceed the length of your studies.
If the official length of your program of study is:
- Less than eight months – You are not eligible for this program.
- More than eight months but less than two years – You may get a work permit for a period no longer than the length of your program of study (for example, if you studied for nine months, a work permit may be issued for a period of nine months).
- Two years or more – a work permit may be issued for three years.
- Pathway to Permanent Residence
There are several permanent residency categories that one may fit into, including the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Program and the Provincial Nominee Program.
Some of those categories require eligible Canadian work experience. Let’s talk about each of these categories in detail: –
CEC (Canadian Experience Class) – The CEC allows Canada’s foreign workers to apply for permanent residency, and this is one of the ideal categories for international graduates.
International graduates with PGWP and a minimum of one year work experience in a relevant professional or technical field can apply to become permanent residents through the Express Entry pool of CEC.
This program is also good for temporary foreign workers living and working in Canada.
Note: Self-employment and work experience gained while you were a full-time student does not count under this program.
Click the URL for details: – http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/cec/apply-who.asp
FSW (Federal Skilled Workers) – FSW applications are assessed by officials based on the applicant’s ability to economically establish themselves in Canada.
International students after graduating can apply for permanent residence under this category as well. The below URL will guide the whole process: –
PNP (Provincial Nominee Program) – Most provinces and territories can nominate immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Applicants both from outside Canada and within Canada can apply under this program if they meet the necessary requirements.
Nova Scotia runs its NSNP (Nova Scotia Nominee Program) and through this program prospective immigrants and graduates from a Canadian university or college can apply if meet the necessary criteria.
Nova Scotia’s NSNP is divided into five streams:
Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry – Those former international students who have at least a year of experience in certain high skilled jobs with a Nova Scotia employer can apply for this.
Note that one needs to be working in a category that falls under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) list level O, A and B to apply for the permanent residency.
International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream – If an applicant has operated his or own business for at least a year after graduating from a provincial university or college with at least a two-year diploma or degree, and intends to settle in the province, he or she can apply for this.