Updated: Feb 25, 2020
So you have completed your education or are currently studying at a publicly-funded Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in the province of Alberta, now what? Firstly, you must ensure that you extend your status as a worker on a post-graduate open work permit (PGWP). Usually, for programs of study that span two years or more, a work permit is issued for up to three years. For programs that are eight months to one year long, the work permit will be issued for the same length of time as the study term.
A student can continue to work full time while their PGWP is in process as long as they extend it before their study permit expires pursuant to section 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. As soon as you have completed your final exams and have a final transcript of your grades, you should be ready to apply for a post-graduate open work permit. Fortunately, study permits are usually issued for 3 months longer than the completion of the final semester of classes so a typical student should have sufficient time to prepare all documentation and ensure that they are eligible.
It is worthwhile to mention that students who did not study in Alberta are not eligible under the Alberta Opportunity Stream (AOS) paper route of the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) but they may have a chance through AOS Express Entry stream if they have sufficient ties to the province. Furthermore, students who started attending their program of study on April 1, 2019 or later, should be aware that some entry level certificates (usually of one year or less in length) are no longer eligible.
In order to qualify under the Alberta Opportunity Stream (paper application route) as a post-graduate work permit holder, the following essential elements are necessary:
1. You must be living and working in Alberta on a valid post graduate work permit and having completed your education in an eligible institution in Alberta. Candidates who are working in other provinces are not eligible
2. Your occupation must not be on the ineligible occupations list on AINP website and it must not be on a refusal to process LMIA list in Alberta. These restrictions are imposed because the occupations on them are not considered in demand in Alberta, therefore, Canadians and permanent residents should be able to fill those positions
3. The occupation that you have chosen must be related to your field of study in Alberta and, in some cases, it must also be related to your field of study outside of Canada
4. Ensure you have valid language test scores on one of the following tests: CELPIP or IELTS (general test) in English or TEF or TCF in French. The minimum CLB is level 4 but is scheduled to increase to CLB 5 in 2020 only for candidates working in NOC 0, A or B. There are no changes for candidates working under NOC level C or D in 2020
5. You must have studied at an approved DLI in Alberta and have completed an eligible Alberta credential. Graduates of private schools, even if they are designated learning institutions, are not eligible for a post-graduate work permit or AINP
6. As a post graduate work permit holder, you must be working for your Alberta employer for a minimum of six months. Your Alberta employment experience is a very important qualifier for this program and it is not possible to qualify as a post graduate work permit holder without being currently employed
7. Further to the qualification mentioned in #6, you must also have either 12 months of full-time work experience in your current occupation in Alberta within the last 18 months OR a minimum of 24 months of full-time work experience in your current occupation in Canada or abroad within the last 30 month. With some limitations, paid co-op or internship experience in Alberta may be eligible for post graduate work permit holders category only
8. If your occupation is regulated, you must have the necessary registration, certification and licensing in Alberta
9. You are not eligible if you are working in a home-based business in Alberta, if you are working for a temporary employment agency or if you are an owner or shareholder of the business for which you are working
In order to qualify under the Alberta Opportunity Stream (Express Entry route) as a post-graduate work permit holder, the following essential elements are necessary:
1. You must be eligible for one of the federal express entry programs and meet all their eligibility requirements with a minimum CRS score of 300
2. You must have valid language test results in English or French
3. You must have a valid Canadian education credential or an Education Credential Assessment or ECA report. Please note that the education credential does not necessarily need to be in Alberta pursuant to this stream
4. Reference letters from employers and companies for current and previous jobs
5. All licenses, registration or certification necessary in order to work in a regulated occupation in Alberta, if applicable
6. If you have a job offer in Alberta, past education or work experience in Alberta or a close relative living in Alberta and are not working in an occupation that is not eligible, you may have a strong connection to the province and a high chance of being selected from the Express Entry pool. Meeting one or more of the mentioned characteristics would qualify you for this program
7. You only have 30 days to apply to AINP Express Entry after receiving a Notification of Interest within your Express Entry profile. A package must be requested from AINP in order to apply after a notification of interest has been received
It is therefor essential to monitor both the education and employment eligibility section for anybody studying in Alberta or working on a PGWP. Both of these factors are determinative and material to your future chances to establish as a permanent resident. For those who have low CRS rank on Express Entry, the AINP program has much less barriers to entry but it is very particular and ever changing in its eligibility criteria. For students who are very young with limited employment history and graduating from short programs of study in Canada or having low language scores, AINP may be easier to achieve permanent residence on.