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Students deliver 16,000 petitions to Marco Mendicino on Tuesday| Photo Credits: James Ma

 

by Nandika Ravi

Current and former international students rallied outside immigration minister,  Marco Mendicino’s office on Tuesday. Calling for changes to Canada’s immigration laws and to give more rights to non-permanent residents in the country and post graduate work permits renewable. Over 16,000 signed petitions from across Canada have been handed over at Mendicino’s office.

Sarom Rho, one of the organizers of the rally, said delivery workers, warehousing, workers at grocery stores and child care workers are all considered as low paying jobs. Due to the pandemic and inconsistent economy, students are unable to find skilled, managerial or technical roles that would allow them to qualify for permanent residency.

The students say the requirements for graduates to gain permanent residency in Canada are too stringent. With lockdowns being re-issued in most parts of the country, meeting such requirements is nearly impossible.

“The second wave of lockdowns means that our workers are working more, without basic access to rights and protections. Which also means that it is impossible to find high wage jobs that the government sees valuable to count for permanent residency, ” Rho said.

As of November 2020, international students cannot renew post-graduate work permits. They need to apply for permanent residency before work permit expiration; otherwise they’re at a high risk of being deported.

 

Syed Hassan as the rally| Photo Credits: James Ma

“Right now to get permanent residency in this country, you must do 12 to 24 months of high waged work,” said Syed Hussan, the executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

“During a pandemic, several students are finding it tough to get high paying jobs.”

Hussan added that on December 31st, all work permits in Canada that have expired will no longer be renewable, which means thousands of people will lose status in the country.

Shiba, an international student from Iran, came to Canada two years ago. “I could not find a full time job, my husband has been laid off due to the pandemic and I’ve been away from my family since 2 years now and I may face deportation if the government doesn’t change their immigration policies,” she said.

The students’ are demanding that Mendicino and prime minister Justin Trudeau provide full immigration status to all migrants who are working in Canada, regardless of what their wage status may be.