Temporary policy aims to address labour shortages by upgrading foreign workers’ skills

Employers looking to upgrade their foreign workers’ skills to address critical labour shortages will benefit from a new temporary measure introduced by the federal government.

Effective immediately, foreign nationals with a valid Canadian work permit can study full-time or part-time in Canada without having to apply for a study permit. Previously, foreign workers had to apply for a study permit if their study program lasted longer than six months.

The six-month limit caused some confusion about when a study permit was needed – particularly for trade apprenticeships or professional certification courses that require only a few weeks of classroom time but months of hands-on experience.

The temporary measure will remain in effect for three years, allowing foreign workers to study in Canada for any study program’s length of time as long as they hold a valid work permit or submitted an application to renew their work permit before June 7, 2023, and are currently authorized to work in Canada. Work permits applied for or obtained after this date will not gain the same benefit.

Addressing labour shortages and creating a path to permanent residency

Making it easier for foreign workers to study in Canada will help address labour shortages, according to a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Allowing construction labourers to become skilled tradespeople and foreign-trained doctors and nurses to practise in Canada are just a few stated examples where the labour market should see benefits.

The measure could also help foreign workers pursuing part-time studies in Canada become permanent residents by improving their Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points.

Part-time students could increase their CRS points by achieving a higher level of education, gaining qualifying work experience, improving their French or English proficiency or gaining experience in higher-skilled employment. Foreign workers pursuing full-time studies in Canada will not be eligible for CRS points, nor would their studies count toward eligibility for the Canadian Experience Class.

This temporary measure will come as welcome news to employers across Canada looking to upgrade the skills of their existing foreign workers to address labour shortages. To learn more about how this policy could benefit your organization, contact a member of our Immigration team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.