Hiring international students

Hiring international students

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Laura Hanusiak, Suzanne Rix, KC | This is a guest post from Cox & Palmer
(Member since 2005) | Published: October 4, 2022

This is a guest post from Cox & Palmer
(Member since 2005)

Throughout the past few years, and particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Scotia’s appeal as a desirable place to live has only increased. Many international students in Nova Scotia wish to remain in the province following their graduation; however, they require worthwhile employment opportunities to be able to do so. Fortunately, the federal and provincial governments have created programs which will allow many to settle in Nova Scotia with relative ease.

Hiring an international student is a great way for employers to grow their workforce in Nova Scotia. International students are often well-educated, English- or French-speaking, and eager to integrate themselves into the community.

Over the past several years, the process for hiring an international student has become increasingly simplified. In brief, students holding a Study Permit who have completed a full-time program of study of at least 8 months at a qualified educational institution are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (“PGWP”). A PGWP is an open Work Permit, meaning that it allows the Permit holder to work for almost any Canadian employer.

The length of the PGWP will depend on the length of the student’s studies. If the student’s program lasted more than 8 months but less than 2 years, a student can obtain a PGWP for the length of their studies. If the program of study was 2 years or longer, a student can obtain a PGWP valid for 3 years. In many cases, international students can begin working while they wait for their PGWP application to be processed, as long as they held a valid Study Permit at the time their application was made.

In recognition of the difficulty that many recent graduates have encountered finding employment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has introduced a new public policy allowing international students whose PGWP expired or will expire between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022 to apply for an additional 18-month extension of their Work Permit. This gives them more time to find skilled work experience in Canada.

Hiring a former international student on a PGWP can be done with ease by Nova Scotia employers as, unlike other Work Permit programs, the employer does not need to prove that they were not able to find a qualified Canadian or Permanent Resident to fill the position prior to offering employment. Rather, they can simply extend the offer of employment to the PGWP holder. There are no extra steps the employer must take when hiring a PGWP holder as opposed to a Canadian candidate.

International students often have diverse backgrounds, have had unique experiences, and may view the world through a different cultural lens that could help bring new perspectives and innovation to Nova Scotia’s businesses. They may also have global connections which can be utilized by an employer looking to expand their business and reach new markets outside of Nova Scotia or Canada. Hiring an international student who speaks another language (as many do) may also prove to be hugely beneficial for employers in today’s globalized economy.

International students who intend to remain in Canada on a permanent basis will often be seeking skilled work experience. Gaining skilled work experience in Nova Scotia will help international students to carve their pathway to Permanent Residence by way of the Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry program. To avail themselves of this program, international students must have studied in Nova Scotia and have one year of full-time, skilled work experience in Nova Scotia at the time they apply. For employers, all that is required is that they provide a reference letter confirming the international student’s length of employment, job title, job duties, number of hours per week, and salary.

By hiring international students, employers have the opportunity to gain new perspectives, increase their innovation, diversify their workforce, make new connections, expand their business globally, and reach new markets. For international students who studied in Nova Scotia, working in a skilled job for a Nova Scotia employer for one year will provide them access to a straightforward Permanent Residence program, ultimately creating a win-win situation for both Nova Scotia employers and recent international graduates.

Suzanne Rix, QC, is the Managing Partner of Cox & Palmer’s Halifax office. She was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1998. Suzanne assists clients with all types of Work Permit Applications, Permanent Residence Applications and Canadian Citizenship Applications. Suzanne can be reached at srix@coxandpalmer.com.

Laura Hanusiak is an Associate in the Halifax office of Cox & Palmer. She is the Chair of the Citizenship and Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association – Nova Scotia Branch. Laura assists clients with various Work Permit, Temporary Residence and Permanent Residence Applications. Laura can be reached at lhanusiak@coxandpalmer.com.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter and receive important updates on Halifax Chamber events, Member benefits and advocacy news.

Travel to Costa Rica!