News report | | 01-09-2023 | ±4 minutes reading time

Foreign employees residing in Canada with a work permit can now follow longer studies in the country. The fact that, for the coming years, they will not need a separate study permit for this, goes hand in hand with Canada’s attempt to diminish workforce shortages by relaxing their visa policy.

Work visa for Canada and eTA for a business trip

Foreign employees who want to work in Canada for a Canadian employer usually need a specific work visa. This visa is better known as a work permit. In case of a business trip or exceptional work activities, travellers can use the eTA, the electronic travel authorisation for Canada . It should be taken into account, nevertheless, that an eTA permits a maximum stay of 6 months. Moreover, all other requirements for working in Canada with an eTA must be met.

Study permit for Canada and eTA for short studies

Besides the work visa, Canada also offers a study visa, known as a study permit. Unlike the eTA, this study permit lets travellers study in Canada for longer than 6 months. The eTA can only be used on its own if the entire study does not last more than 6 months.

Until recently, the latter was also true for those who held a valid work permit. Those in possession of a valid work visa were allowed to follow a 6-month study or training program without the need for a separate study permit. On 27 June this year, work permit holders were given the right to follow longer studies in the country for the upcoming 3 years. This applies to all current and future work permit holders.

Long-term studying with a work permit

This previous obligation to apply for a separate study visa to study for a longer period of time posed an enormous bump in the road for foreigners who wanted to develop themselves further on a professional level. Canada has acknowledged this matter by implementing the new policy. From now on, the work permit can be used for both short-term and long-term studies in Canada. This applies for as long as the work permit is valid and the rule remains in effect.

In addition, the combination of studying and working in Canada offers better opportunities for foreigners who want to obtain permanent residency through the Express-Entry system. Express Entry uses a points-based system to objectively select the most suitable candidates. Candidates who have sufficient relevant work experience and have completed studies in Canada can generally obtain more points and thus increase the chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.

Working more hours with a study permit was already possible

Students with a Canadian study permit (and who do not have a work permit) were already allowed to work in Canada for a longer period of time (more than the average maximum of 20 hours a week) by the end of last year.

The eTA is sufficient for most short-term courses and training programmes in Canada, both full-time or part-time. The total duration of the course must not exceed 6 months. The eTA also does not allow you to work during the period of study, either inside or outside the educational institution.

Canadian response to the changing labour market

It is noteworthy that both of these temporary measures have been introduced in direct response to the shortages in the Canadian labour market. In addition, it has recently been decided that workers who are already in Canada on a visitor’s visa can apply for a work permit until 2025. For this, they do not need to leave Canada.

The temporary possibility of full-time study on a work visa is also a response to a problem that Canada has been facing for a long time: labour market shortages. The number of immigrants is increasing, but this does not mean that these foreign workers will be able to stay in the country on a permanent basis. The share of foreign residents in the total Canadian population is expected to increase by 20-30% between 2011 and 2036. Providing more opportunities for these immigrants may be a partial solution to the shortage of workers in the Canadian labour market. By offering foreign workers the possibility to study in Canada through a work permit, the likelihood that those who have gained valuable experience will have to leave the country decreases. Furthermore, doctors and nurses who trained outside Canada will find it more attractive to work in the country.

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