Release: Mass Deportation of 50,000 Migrant Student Workers Stopped But More Action Desperately Needed

Media Contact: Sarom Rho, 416-887-8315,

Toronto Rally at Immigration HQ (74 Victoria Street) on Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 1pm EST to demand inclusion of all migrants! 

Toronto, April 22, 2022 – While 50,000 former international students can breathe more easily today after an announcement by the Immigration Minister that will stop their mass deportations, fundamental problems remain, including an arbitrary timeline and exclusion of low-waged essential workers. 

Post-graduate work permits (PGWP) were made renewable in 2021 but the short-term policy change ended in July 2021. That program was available to graduated students whose work permits were expiring until November 27, 2021. The program announced today, full details of which remain unclear, applies to graduated students whose work permits expire between January 31 and December, 2022, arbitrarily and unfairly leaving out those whose permits expired between November 27, 2021 and January 31, 2022. 

Tara Emami is an Iranian migrant student worker who received her Masters in Management from University of Toronto. Her PGWP expired in December 2021, and she is not eligible for changes announced today. She says, “This is not fair. We are people as well, we were just unlucky that our work permits expired in December. Luck should not be a factor in the PGWP extensions. What is our fault? We have done nothing wrong and yet we are not eligible for the past PGWP extension, this one, and by the time the Express Entry draws resumes, it’s going to be too late for us. I can’t sleep well at night, and I cannot plan for my future. We need permanent resident status for all of us immediately.” 

The changes today are a result of migrant student workers organizing. “Over the last year, migrant student workers have been speaking up, visiting Members of Parliament, signing petitions, marching on the streets and organizing online to demand changes, and it’s taken the federal government nine months to announce another temporary one-off program while thousands have fallen into debt, forced to leave or become undocumented,” says Sarom Rho, Migrant Students United coordinator. “This is a small step in the right direction, but too many remain without rights, we need permanent resident status for all, now, especially those in low-waged work; we need a permanently renewable post-graduate work permit, not a one-off program, and the current announcement needs to include those left out.”

The Minister also announced that the Express Entry program (Federal High Skilled Workers) will reopen in July 2022, which has been closed since September 2021. However, the federal government has slashed spots in the program from 110,500 to 55,900 spots for the years 2022 and 2023. Cutting the spots available in half means that the program has become more exclusionary. No changes have been made to increase access for those who will be excluded because of fewer spots.

“Just last month, the federal government made it easier for employers to hire low-wage migrant workers who are tied to employers, today’s announcement opens up a path for some high-wage workers to stay in Canada permanently but low-wage workers remain on temporary permits with few rights, in effect the government of Canada is willing to only extend fairness to high-wage workers which is simply discrimination,” says Syed Hussan, Executive Director, Migrant Workers Alliance for Change. “Migrants are tired of one-off, temporary pathways, a fair society means equal rights and that means permanent resident status for all.” 

The Express Entry pathway is restricted to migrants with high-waged work experience in Canada, even though the most essential jobs in Canada, many in sectors with a labour shortage, are for low-waged workers. These changes exclude the majority of low-wage graduated migrant workers in food service, gig work, delivery, security, warehousing, cleaning and other low-waged jobs.