Online learning now counts for Canada Express Entry credential points

Canada Immigration News: Canada will make online learning count for Express Entry points for international students who cannot attend universities and colleges in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an announcement on the federal Express Entry website, Ottawa says those studying for degrees, diplomas and certificates between March 2020 and August 2022 are eligible for Canadian degree points if they complete all or part of of their program:

  • from a distance,
  • from outside Canada, or
  • through part-time studies.

Previously, online learning did not count for any Express Entry points.


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Pandemic travel restrictions have prevented thousands of international students who would previously have attended Canadian schools from doing so.

Canadian authorities acted quickly, first allowing them to learn online, then allowing online learning to count in the Post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

The PGWP allows international students to work for up to three years after graduation. This work experience then counts towards an application for permanent residence.

Before the pandemic, online learning did not count towards the PGWP, the duration of which is tied to the length of the course studied.


Post-graduation work permit: how long is it valid?

The validity of a PGWP is linked to the duration of the studies. If an applicant has studied for less than eight months, he is not eligible.

Duration of the study 8 months to 2 years 2 years or more More than one program
Duration of PGWP Same as study duration 3 years The total cumulative duration of studies is applicable

Canada’s federal government is coveting international students, setting a clear path to permanent residency that dates back long before the pandemic hit.

According to a recent study by Statistics Canada, international students are increasingly contributing to the Canadian labor force.

In the decade ending in 2019, the number of international students working in Canada each year grew from 22,000 to 354,000, a 16-fold jump. While only 18% of international students were employed while studying in Canada in 2000, half of them were working while taking courses in 2019.


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Canada welcomes more than 350,000 international students each year. To be eligible to study in Canada, these students must demonstrate that they:

  • have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada;
  • have enough money to pay for their tuition, living expenses, and round-trip transportation;
  • are law-abiding citizens with no criminal record;
  • are in good health and willing to undergo a medical examination, and;
  • can convince an immigration officer that they will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay.

Once their study permit has been issued, these students can work in Canada in the following categories:

Survey says Canada is best for international students

Canada is the best country in the world when it comes to going to college or university, say international students surveyed by IDP Connect.

Latest news from the Australia-based global education service provider Emerging Futures report shows that international students greatly prefer Canada to the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

International students told IDP that Canada was their first choice destination for higher education in 27% of cases.

This compares to just 20% who favored the US and 19% for the UK and Australia.