Canada is seeing a rise in the numbers of international mature students who are looking to the country’s universities as a way to fast-track to permanent resident status.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the trend of adults, typically with spouses and often with children, studying in Canada is a result of the government’s recent decision to classify foreign students among the front-runners to become permanent residents.
In November last year, Canada announced changes to its immigration system that it estimated would increase the numbers of international students invited to apply for permanent residency by a third.
Recent amendments also allow overseas students to include time spent studying in Canada in applications for citizenship.
An internal staff memo from Canada’s immigration office in the Philippines claimed that at its most recent study fair, “most questions were from mature, married clients with children, who were interested in open work permits for their spouse and study permits for their children”, according to the newspaper.
“They do not fit the profile of a typical international student,” added the office.
Andri Thorarinsson, a 34-year-old from Iceland who is completing a master's in business at Simon Fraser University and has a wife and two daughters, told the newspaper that the degree was essentially "our ticket into the country".
“Everybody told us education is the way to get into Canada. We love it. We’d love to stay longer," he said.
However, immigration lawyer Richard Kurland warned that adult foreign students and their families are not guaranteed permanent resident status and there is a high level of competition for citizenship.
He said that about 60,000 people a year receive fast-track approval to become permanent residents in Canada, but there are almost 400,000 foreign students in Canada at any one time, plus another 500,000 temporary foreign workers.