I believe the late, great Joseph Rotman would be thrilled to see our lobby efforts to extend work eligibility for Canada’s international Students praised by The Economist.
“Canada, until recently an also-ran, now emulate Oz. In 2014 it set a goal of almost doubling the number of foreign students by 2022. It has streamlined visa applications and given international students the right to stay and work for up to three years after graduating. Those who want to make Canada their home have a good chance of being granted permanent residence. Its share of the market for footloose students is growing, and numbers have more than doubled in a decade.” Shrewd governments welcome foreign students
In 2007, Joe asked me to discover why an old friend’s nephew, from Jordan, was having such a difficult time finding a job after successfully completing a 4-year Honours BSc. from UofT. The young man met me nervously in my office, dressed in a full suit and tie, on a hot August afternoon. He enjoyed living and learning in Canada and wanted to stay to continue his experience. He implored me to help him find a job, any job, in the science field, or his study Visa would expire and he would have to return to Jordan the following month. I made no promises, but felt this young man had a lot to offer Canada, so I made some inquiries about the situation.
This turned into a larger task than first imagined. Following up with a number of educational institutions, provincial authorities and immigration officials, I made a disheartening discovery. Although he had applied to countless entry-level positions, the law required employment- in his field of study-within a mere 3 months of graduation.
So, he couldn’t apply or accept a position in any other field than science (although thousands of similar science grads from all our universities compete desperately for limited positions in labs, pharma co.’s and health care providers at the same time). And, he had the improbable task of doing so during the dog-days of summer recruiting in June, July and August. That’s when vacations peak, decision-makers are scarce and full-time seasonal employment tanks.
After discussing the dilemma with Joe, he asked me to write a “briefing note” that he could pass personally to the most influential decision maker in that portfolio on Parliament Hill to ‘take it under advisement”. In the meantime, he asked me to run the briefing note by a friend in a prominent immigration law firm to make sure we were onside. She confirmed, indeed we were, and he shared his magic on “The Hill”. Our Jordanian friend was able to find meaningful work in Canada, apply for Permanent Resident status and contribute to our economy and society.
So, to all our international students and graduates who fall in love with Canada and want to make it home, please remember our friend Joe!