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COVID-19 Second Wave Deepens Migrant Student Crisis

Thousands of former international students face deportation if work permits are not renewed immediately.

Toronto – Current and former migrant student workers are holding a public demonstration on October 25, 2020 in front of the IRCC Office to call for renewable work permits to ward off deportations. Many international students on time-restricted post graduate work permits (PGWPs) are required to complete 12-24 months of high-waged work to qualify for permanent residency (PR). However, with COVID-19 related job losses worsening again in the second wave, most graduates do not have access to these jobs. Despite living here for years, building relationships and communities, thousands of migrants face deportation if work permits are not renewed before December 31st, 2020. Migrant students are also calling for access to emergency income support, healthcare, and lower tuition fees to help them cope with the impact of COVID-19. Over 15,000 people have signed two petitions calling for immediate changes in immigration policy.

 

TORONTO – Sunday, October 25, 2020, 2:30pm

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Head Office, 55 St Clair Avenue East.

 

BACKGROUND

There are more than 572,000 international students on study permits, and 98,385 new post graduate work permits were issued in 2019. Over 17,000 one- and two-year work permits were issued between September 2019 and June 2020. Many of these work permit holders are unable to complete the work requirements necessary to apply for PR as a result of COVID-19 job losses. Work done during the school year and outside of managerial, professional or technical roles is also not counted towards PR. Under current immigration rules, all work permits that expire in 2020 can be restored before December 31, 2020. Many students are remaining in Canada on expired permits waiting for them to be made renewable.

 

Immigration Canada has delayed permit processing, leaving thousands of migrant students and migrant workers without active Social Insurance Numbers, which are required to access emergency income support and find jobs. Access to healthcare for former students, even during COVID-19, is tied to having a full-time job, which many are unable to find under current circumstances. International student tuition fees have increased dramatically during COVID-19 even as students and their families have lost work and wages and classes have shifted online.

 

Migrant students are calling on the federal and provincial government to:

  • FIX RULES AROUND WORK: Make post-graduate work permits renewable so former students can complete realistic requirements for Permanent Residency (PR) in the COVID-19 job market; Remove time limits and industry restrictions on work;
  • GIVE REAL ACCESS TO PR: Lower points requirements for PR (CRS); Count work that is part-time, in-school, or in any occupation towards PR; and Ensure full and permanent immigration status for all migrants;
  • LOWER TUITION & ENSURE FULL SERVICES: Ensure migrant students pay domestic tuition; Ensure full access to all services including healthcare, housing, scholarships, pandemic emergency benefits, in-school support and jobs; Immediate access to Social Insurance Numbers.
  • UNITE FAMILIES: Allow families to travel, ensure work permits for family members

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