CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP 101

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By Alison Jones

International student Subha Chelvam is here to stay. The Canadian government has created a new immigration program to keep Canadian-trained students, like Chelvam, in the country after they graduate.

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program will help international students meet the requirements to attain permanent Canadian citizenship.

Chelvam, a first-year journalism student, comes from an Indian family that lives in Bermuda. After 17 years in Bermuda, Chelvam’s father is still working on a work permit and she has not been granted residency.

When he heard of the new Canadian immigration program, Chelvam’s father encouraged her to apply to Ryerson and other Canadian universities.

“Just having status here would help me because it is so hard to travel and study in other places with an Indian passport,” Chelvam said.

Diana Ning, coordinator of International Services for Students said this is breakthrough news in immigration policy in Canada.

“I think [international] students are excited because they have better language skills [than new immigrants] and have made the cultural adjustment, so it will be easy for them to join the task force in the Canadian market,” she said.

The program will also extend the post-graduate work permit in Canada from one year to three years. This will allow international students to get work experience, a requirement needed to become a Canadian citizen.

International Services for Students is responding to the Canadian Experience Class Program by stepping up their own programs.

The department has developed a Legal and Permanent Residency Support Program which consists of a series of workshops, individual student advising and an exposition to help international students through the process of becoming permanent residents.

“It is a silent transformation of our student dynamics,” said Ning.

“You will see international students on campus who the next year may be permanent residents.”

Lumbomir Halachd, a second-year business management student, followed his wife to Canada from Bulgaria. Staying in Canada after graduation would provide a good opportunity for students to get jobs they could not get in their home countries, said Halachd.

The Bulgarian government does not allocate significant funding to science and development and therefore there are few jobs in that field.

“Canadian society is made by immigrants, they are the building blocks of Canadian society,” said Halachd. “I definitely think it will attract more people to come and that means more educated brains, which is very good for Canada.”

Ning said the government has implemented the new class as an attempt to offset the many immigrants that face language and cultural problems and require re-education in order to meet Canadian standards.

“I think for Canadian society this is the better way to go. Why bring over someone and take time and resources to train them when you could use a student who is trained in Canada?” she said.

Ning said the new program will likely result in more international students applying to Canadian universities, including Ryerson, because of the multicultural business environment of Toronto.

“We have more job opportunities in the big metropolitan city so it will increase the number of people applying to Ryerson.”

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