You’re never too old to go back to school. As a student, you’ll be able to bring your spouse (or common-law partner) and dependent children with you to Canada during the length of your program. Once you’re accepted into a valid program at a designated learning institution in Canada, you’ll be eligible for a study permit. That will allow you to live in Canada for the length of your studies, plus 6 months following the completion of the program.

In order to be granted a study permit, you’ll need to prove that you are admissible to Canada, are in good health, and have the financial means to support yourself for either the length of the program if it is less than a year, or for the first year of the program if your studies are expected to last more than a year.

As a full-time student, you can apply for work permit that will allow you to work up to 20 hours per week during school sessions and full time during scheduled breaks. During your studies, your spouse or common-law partner can also apply for a work permit for the same period of time that your study permit allows you to remain in Canada. This will allow them to find full-time employment while you are living together in Canada.

You will both need to obtain Social Insurance Numbers in order to work in Canada, but luckily this is an easy step once you have the study permit. Your academic status will be reported to the CIC from your learning institution, so you’ll need to maintain good academic standing in order to work and to remain in Canada.

Ontario Masters Graduates Stream

If you earn a Master’s degree from a publicly-funded university in Ontario and are proficient in both English and French, you can apply for permanent residency through the Masters Graduate Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). This program would require that you apply for residency within two years of obtaining the degree and you’d need to prove that you had been living in Ontario for 12+ continuous months within the last 2 years. You’d also need to show that you have enough savings to support yourself and any family members that would be immigrating with you since you are able to apply to the program without an existing job offer. You’d also have to declare your intent to settle permanently in Ontario.

Ontario PhD Graduates Stream

If you successfully complete all requirements for a PhD at a publicly-funded university in Ontario, then you can apply for permanent residency through the PhD Graduates Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). In order to qualify for this immigration program, you would need to prove that at least two years of your studies were completed at a valid academic institution in Canada and that the PhD was granted within the last two years. You’d also need to declare your intent to settle permanently in Ontario.

Working in Canada after graduating

After graduating from a program that is at least 8 months long, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which will allow you to seek employment in Canada. For programs that are between 8 and 24 months long, you can get a work permit for whatever the length of your study program was for (for example, if the program was 18 months long, then you can get a work permit for no more than 18 months). For any program that lasted 2 years or more, you can get a work permit for up to 3 years.

If you’re able to get a valid job offer from a Canadian employer, then you can probably qualify for immigration through Express Entry.

Become a permanent resident through the Canadian Experience Class

After working full time for at least a year in a professional role in Canada, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residency status under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) immigration program along with your spouse and dependent children, which will allow you all to live in Canada as residents.

Only certain job types are considered applicable for the CEC program, so check the that the Government of Canada to make sure the job would qualify you for immigration as a skilled worker. Only work experience gained after graduating will be considered valid and any work experience obtained while on a student visa will be considered invalid for the sake of the CEC program.

Since the CEC program aims to bring younger professionals into Canada, you’re much more likely to be eligible for immigration through the CEC program if you’re under 35. Your odds of being invited into the CEC program decrease with each birthday you celebrate after 30 and if you’re over 47, it’s unlikely that you’ll be accepted unless you have a job offer from a company in Canada.

Whatever your age, you can increase your odds of qualifying for the CEC program by increasing your marketable skills:

  • Secure a valid job offer from a company located in Canada
  • Demonstrate fluency in English and French
  • Obtain 2+ years of continuous, full time work experience in Canada in a qualifying profession:
    • Skill Level 0: Management almost any type of job that includes manager or supervisor in the title will qualify
    • Skill Level A: Professional most office jobs will qualify. Often these types of jobs will require some sort of degree, but that’s not necessarily a requirement
    • Skill Level B: Technical – these jobs often require an Associate’s degree or apprenticeship of some kind.
  • Have 2+ years of professional work experience from anywhere in the world in the last 10 years
  • Have multiple advanced degrees
  • If you’re married, your spouse can help to increase your score by
    • attending a 2+ year academic program in Canada
    • obtaining 1+ years of continuous, qualifying skilled work experience in Canada
    • demonstrating advanced proficiency in English and French

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