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Ways for Canada to enhance retention of foreign students


The processing of study visas for Canada is still taking longer than expected and falls short of IRCC service requirements. The typical processing period for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program for study visas is 20 calendar days. However, candidates must wait a lot longer to learn the outcome of their study visa application. It could take up to 4 months in some circumstances.


After beginning their classes, applicants occasionally gained clearance for study visas. Future candidates seeking study visas should be discouraged by this. More than 620,000 foreign students were enrolled at Canadian universities in 2021, according to data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, and that number has risen steadily since then.


International students are stuck in an extremely complicated immigration system with no clear, speedy path to study permits or permanent residency and employment once they graduate from college, according to recent research by RBC Economics.


As a result of its aging population, Canada’s loss of global talent is one of its main worries. Other nations competing for top talents, like the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, are offering far quicker processing times for student visas.

Four ways to enhance the program for overseas students

On November 28, 2022, John Stackhouse, senior vice president of RBC, and Valerie Walker, president of the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), presented 4 strategies for Canada to retain international talent and stop it from leaving the country.

First, Canada has to make it easier for students to study and stay, as done by counterparts like the United States and the United Kingdom. The federal government’s decision to automate some visa renewal applications and permit overseas students to work more hours is a solid start.


When they can get a work or study permit from the U.K. in only a few days, the top talent in the world won’t wait months for one. Postsecondary and financial institutions can speed up the study visa application process by helping the government to verify financial assurances or educational credentials.


Second, too many students from China and India study abroad in Canada. To increase the talent pool and reduce risk, Canada must do more to attract students from South America, other Asian nations, and francophone countries.


Third, Canada should focus less on recruiting targets and more on the skills that are in demand for the country’s current and future labor markets. Alliances between employers and post-secondary schools and organizations like the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) can help firms and institutions better align hiring practices with labor market demands.


The expansion of programs pertaining to in-demand professions including those in the net-zero economy, STEM industries, and healthcare are also encouraged.

Last but not least, Canada needs to emphasize the experience of foreign students more. Provinces and towns, for instance, must spend more money on affordable housing, public transportation, and health care, particularly mental health, while students are in this nation.


Expanding the opportunities for overseas students to participate in WIL may also improve their job prospects and overall Canadian experience, according to a portion of BHER’s mandate.

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