Often international students come to Canada with plans to make Canada their home after graduation. For many, this is a very real option. Students graduating from qualifying Designated Learning Institutes (most major universities and colleges will qualify) will be entitled to apply for a post-graduate work permit for up to three years.

The exact length of their work permit will depend on the length of their study program. It's important to note, however, that post-graduate work permits are a one-time shot. They cannot be renewed. More importantly, is that they start the clock running on a coveted period of time that an international student can start to accumulate Canadian work experience.

For students with little to no foreign work experience, this Canadian work experience will often be the defining factor in whether they will qualify for permanent residence under Canada's Express Entry system.

All too often, students graduate and either return home or travel outside of Canada for some period of time, take time off while they decide what they want to do next, or take casual part-time jobs instead of positions in their intended fields. This can be a mistake for many who will eventually need to demonstrate that they have accumulated one year of full-time work experience in a skilled vocation in Canada in order to qualify under Express Entry.

Many international students lose the ability to benefit from the golden opportunity of the post-graduate work permit. It is essential that international students think well ahead of graduation about where they can secure fulltime, permanent and meaningful work in a position that will lend itself to points under the Express Entry system.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.