The odyssey of international students in Canada: trained, hired, then sent back home

TORONTO – A double Master’s, one in Italy after a three-year degree in one of the most prestigious Italian universities and a second one in Canada. Then, a permanent job in Toronto. But that’s not enough. Also, she, like many other young Italians and Europeans, will have to return to Italy because it seems impossible to obtain a visa extension (not to mention the “mirage” better known by the name of Permanent Residence: the PR). 

The “welcoming” country par excellence, therefore, sends the most qualified immigrants (or, better, aspiring immigrants) back home, with the absurd quibbles of its increasingly incomprehensible immigration policies.

On the one hand, the federal government (but also the provincial ones) continues to announce hundreds of thousands of new arrivals to fill the same number of uncovered jobs, on the other, it slams the doors in everyone’s faces. Obviously, there is something wrong. As if we needed further proof we are presented with the story of the Italian student-worker who, after having invested time and money – a lot of money – in the “Canadian dream”, finds herself in a limbo that seems to have no way out. And, most probably, she will have to return to Italy.
Her mother tells us the story, eager to speak about “an unfortunate problem involving thousands of young Italians currently working in Canada”. We do not reveal the identity of mother and daughter for reasons of confidentiality.

“International students, in particular many young Italians, who currently work in Canada with Post Graduate Work Permits (PGWP) already expired after 12/31/22 or expiring in 2023, have sunk into an indefinite limbo as they do not receive any news from the Canadian government about the possibility of extending their permit or news about the path to take in order to continue working in Canada. As a result, these young people, including my daughter, will soon be forced to leave the country, abandoning their own work or by opting for absurd alternatives (some of which are not very clear) to somehow prolong one’s stay in Canada”, the girl’s mother explains.

A truly unsustainable and unreasonable situation for many young people who have studied in Canada with a one or two-year Master’s Degree. They have entered the Canadian world of work, some in highly specialized sectors, moreover, contributing to the country’s economy and paying taxes. Now, suddenly, they see themselves “driven out” by a country that boasts its hospitality and integration, evidently valid only in words and in period of elections. A welcoming Canada is a tale from the past. Today the reality is quite different.

“These young people, who are already fully integrated into all aspects of Canadian culture and life, are now facing a moment of great uncertainty that deeply undermines their mental health and their psychological well-being, going from imagining a peaceful future with a brilliant international career at being literally ‘deported’ to Italy without a valid alternative”, explains the girl’s mother. She continues: “Like thousands of other young people, my daughter had to make considerable sacrifices in the long course of study and subsequently, choosing to perfect her cultural and educational background in Canada, she faced a complicated path made up of (sometimes difficult) choices and (sometimes insurmountable) challenges. We are a very humble family and our daughter’s move to Canada was not a easy choice either for the cultural implications or for the economic ones (just think of the astronomical costs of the rents in Toronto). So you can well understand that, after having invested so much in both economic and emotional terms, we now find ourselves seeing all expectations and life prospects fade away”.

Smiling faces on the “Study in Canada as an international student” web page in the “Immigration and citizenship” section of the federal government website: in reality, it is no laughing matter (photo from

The girl’s mother therefore launches an appeal to the Ministry of Immigration to reach, as soon as possible, a definitive solution to the matter, extending the validity of the PGWP permits and, at the same time, finding a clear path for obtaining residency permanent, perhaps with an open work permit until these thousands of young people obtain the status of PR, i.e. the coveted Permanent Residence whose path resembles Ulysses’ Odyssey more than a very normal bureaucratic procedure. It is no coincidence that in order to embark on that path, the use of a law firm specialized in immigration is essential, with consequent huge expenses to be borne by the aspiring immigrant who is in fact forced to shell out thousands of dollars to obtain a document that should, instead, be obtainable via a simple bureaucratic practice.

We conclude the article by reporting two statements made at the press conference on December 1, by Federal Ministers Sean Fraser (Immigration) and Marci Ien (Women, Gender Equality and Youth). And we leave the interpretation to the reader.

“Our government is helping more international youth to work and travel in Canada, effectively helping employers, most of those in the tourism industry, find the workers they need. By giving youth the opportunity of international travel and work experience, we are strengthening our economy and helping our businesses succeed” (The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship)

“International youth bring so much to our country. From building people-to-people ties to helping our businesses succeed, international youth add value to communities right across Canada” (The Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth).

So, now what?

In the pic above: a girl at the airport, ready to leave (photo by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay)