University of New Brunswick international students say they are pleased with federal policy changes that extend the amount of time graduates have to secure employment in Canada.
On Feb. 14, the Government of Canada announced changes to the post-graduation work permit program, which include doubling the time international students have to find a job and apply for a permit following graduation.
“I was extremely grateful and relieved for those extra days. It just gives you more time and makes everything easier,” said Lulu Pastrana Paz, a fourth-year psychology student from Mexico.
The allotted time has been extended from 90 days to 180, and a valid study permit needs only to have been valid at some point during the 180 days instead of at the time of permit application, as was previously regulated.
A post-graduation work permit grants graduates from eligible institutions the ability to work in Canada for up to three years, and change jobs freely within that time.
According to the Canadian Immigration Newsletter website, the policy change intends to allow international students more adequate time to secure work in the typically-stressful period that follows graduation.
Many international students expressed gratitude and relief at the prospect of a little more time to make those major adjustments.
“We are under a lot of pressure to get a work permit, find a job and then apply for permanent residence,” Paz said. “It's a lot, so those extra days are taking a bit of that pressure off our shoulders.”
For some students, the changes give them an opportunity to build a new home here in Canada.
Paz said she wants her family to join her in Fredericton and wishes to continue her current position at Ignite Fredericton. The extended time will allow for an easier transition.
“I'm spending my university life in Canada, learning Canadian cultures in terms of business, how people work, stuff like that, and now it feels much closer than Korea,” said Wonhee Cho, a second-year business student from Korea.
International students report varied experiences in finding work within current permit regulations, whether through off-campus jobs, co-ops or internships.
Gowtham Thangavel, an Indian student in his final year of mechanical engineering, said many barriers exist to securing positions, including navigating the job hunt process.
“It’s not just because of one’s status [as an international student] - I think it's completely based on how well you know the system. It took me almost 1.5 years to understand that,” Thangavel said.
Gabriel Ibarra, a second-year computer science student from Honduras, had a more positive experience finding work and compared his experience to processes in other countries.
“To be honest I haven't had much trouble finding a place to work due to my status as far as I know. I appreciate that a lot about Canada or at least New Brunswick,” he said. “My siblings studied in the US and it was a completely different process for them over there.”
Some students say the extra time is a welcome change in a province where the job market for many sectors may be small.
Raven-Lee Mills, a third-year engineering student from Jamaica, said it’s difficult to find positions in select fields, and said the extended time would allow for a higher chance of employment.
Ojaswi Joshi, a second-year computer science student from Nepal, said the extra time might not be enough.
“For some fields there aren’t any jobs here so the Government of New Brunswick should also make an effort to bring in more jobs from different sectors,” he said.