RBC, one of Canada’s leading banks, is urging the government to make significant changes to the country’s immigration rules in order to retain talented international students. In a paper published for RBC Thought Leadership, lead researcher Ben Richardson and editor Yadullah Hussain argue that the current path from being an international student to becoming a permanent resident is complex and confusing, causing many students to become lost in the system.
The researchers highlight the potential consequences of this labyrinthine process, stating that it may be turning away highly qualified individuals who could help fill key labor shortages in Canada. They emphasize that the difficulty of navigating the system adds unnecessary stress to students and may discourage them from pursuing their dreams in Canada.
According to a separate report by RBC Economics, there has been a significant increase in job openings in Canada since before the pandemic. However, these job opportunities are not being matched by a sufficient number of unemployed workers. Richardson and Hussain argue that this shortage of workers, particularly in healthcare, should serve as a wake-up call for Canada to strategically expand and retain its international student pool.
To address these issues, the researchers propose seven recommendations. One of the main issues they identify is the limitation placed on study permit holders, who are currently only allowed to work off-campus for 20 hours per week. Richardson and Hussain suggest that allowing international students to accumulate more Canadian work experience in their field of study could help overcome the lack of work experience barrier that many students face when looking for employment after graduation. This, in turn, would improve their chances of obtaining permanent residency.
Additionally, the researchers recommend that the government provide guidance on targeted work-study programs that align with the skills needed by provincial governments and employers. By offering more focused programs, international students would have the opportunity to gain practical skills and experience that are directly relevant to the job market.
Overall, RBC’s research highlights the need for urgent reform in Canada’s immigration process. By streamlining the path to permanent residency and providing more opportunities for international students to gain relevant work experience, Canada can better retain talented individuals who can contribute to the country’s economic growth. With labor shortages in key industries such as STEM, healthcare, and green trades, it is essential for Canada to adapt its immigration policies to meet the demands of its evolving job market.