Express EntryPNPStudy

International students eligible for immigration to B.C.

International students who are unable to return to Canada to complete their studies due to the pandemic, can now finish at least half their program online (from anywhere in the world!) and still be eligible for immigration through the B.C. PNP international students categories. 


In trying to keep pace with the effects of the pandemic, Canada is tweaking some of its immigration programs and trying to find ways to work around the challenges presented by the coronavirus.

On February 2 2021, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) announced  that international graduates who finished at least half of their studies in Canada can be eligible for the international student immigration categories.

This is a significant development for graduates who are currently stranded in their home countries and unable to return to Canada due to border closures and travel restrictions. These students can now finish their Canadian education online and still be in a position to immigrate to the province in the coming months or years.

The change was made as a direct result of the pandemic.

While it’s a pretty straight-forward amendment, there are some specifications.

Students who completed their studies and graduated before March 1 2020 are required to have completed 50% of their studies physically on-campus. The students who have or will graduate after March 1 2020 will still need to show that half their studies has been completed in Canada, but it won’t have to be completed on-campus. It can be done online from their homes in Canada.

In order to prove they were residing in Canada at the time of their studies, they will need to provide tenant agreements, utility bills or bank statements.

As long as 50% of the student’s education was completed in Canada (either on or off campus) the other 50% can be completed from anywhere in the world.

Students who are enrolled in a distance education program are not eligible for this nomination since those programs are designed to be taught virtually.  

International graduates requirements:

International graduates interested in settling in British Columbia have four categories they can qualify under:

  • Express Entry B.C. Stream
    • International graduate category;
    • International post-graduate category;
  • Skills Immigration Stream
    • International graduate category;
    • International post-graduate category;
International students eligible for immigration to B.C.
courtesy of Gaelle Marcel

The Express Entry B.C. stream works hand in hand with the federal Express Entry System so the applicant is required to have a valid Express Entry profile in order to be eligible for this stream. They also need to qualify under one of the main economic class immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

Interested candidates are required to graduate from a post-secondary institution in Canada and have a job offer from an eligible employer in B.C. in hand. Certain income requirements must also be met.

International graduates looking to qualify under the Skills Immigration stream, need to meet the education and job offer requirement. They also need to have graduated in the last three years, someone who graduated five or six years ago will not be eligible for this stream. Candidates must meet language requirements for their occupation and demonstrate they have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents.

For the post-graduate category in either stream, applicants must hold a Master’s or PhD degree in an in-demand field such as engineering, health services, physical sciences etc. While a job offer is not required for this category, the applicant will need to prove they wish to settle in B.C. permanently and build a life in the province.

The BC PNP holds weekly draws, so it will be interesting to see how this new plays into the draws. Given Canada’s 2021 immigration target, this is a very smart and forward thinking move on B.C.’s part, it ensures that international graduates who can potentially become permanent residents in Canada, are not unfairly punished for something entirely out of their control.

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