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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Advocacy on proposed policy amendments impacting foreign graduates in Canada

On Friday, 20 November 2015, I sent off a letter by e-mail and regular (postal) mail to  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum, regarding proposed amendments to their Express Entry Immigration Program outlining some key concerns as an international graduate of a Canadian institution. I detailed my migrant trajectory, work experience and settlement patterns to offer closer context to some recommendations.

The letter first congratulated the Prime Minister on his new portfolio and visionary cabinet. It also lauded the government's expediency with citizen feedback most recently reflected in the announcement of the return of the long form mandatory questionnaire in time for the 2016 national census, and went on to outline the reasons for my approaching the cabinet with proposed amendments to their Express Entry immigration program.  

Prime Minister Trudeau's campaign had already made broad announcements to ease hurdles and eliminate barriers to citizenship through the various streams (federal and provincial) for foreign students and graduates among other cohorts. Once implemented, these policies would strengthen Canada's position as an exporter of education and continue to attract talented immigrants to fill labour shortages to support an ongoing and historic symbiosis as birth rates plummet and baby boomers retire in large numbers in the host nation. The letter referenced Canada's unique success with multiculturalism--foreign students and graduates constituting a significant portion of this mix every year. Among the most challenging periods for foreign graduates from Canadian institutes are the gaps between program completion, graduation notification and the actual arrival of their open work permits. These challenges were outlined and recommendations offered. 

Three key recommendations were made to: 

  1. Repeal the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) test, especially for professions where skills are transferable for foreign graduates of Canadian institutions
  2. Inform employers that international students who have applied for their post graduation work permit (PGWP) deserve to be employed like domestic students
  3. Remove the Express Entry criteria for international students OR award points for years spent studying in Canada (for eg. 300 for 1 year, 600 for 2 years, etc.) with additional points for co-ops and volunteer work completed in Canada at the Express Entry assessment

As an Express Entry candidate on the verge of the desired points for immigration to Canada, my recommendations came couched with the hope of being invited for permanent residency before my 30th birthday, three days after Christmas this year.  The letter concluded on a high note, with the hope to soon witness the impact of amendments to immigration that would enable smoother settlement experiences for skilled international graduates who have sacrificed their time, money, and simple pleasures to join the Canadian labour force and give back collectively to their new homeland.

To read the entire letter, feel free to get in touch at 


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2014, February 12). Retrieved November 7, 2015, from

Economic Impact of International Education in Canada - An Update. (2013, December 31). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

Mckenna, B. (2015, November 7). As the baby boomers retire, the threat of intergenerational inequality looms. Retrieved November 7, 2015, from

Smith, B. (2015, October 28). Canada: New PM pledges to ease citizenship path, stakeholders optimistic. Retrieved November 7, 2015, from

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