Photo showing Canadian and Saudi flags superimposed on clenched fists

More than 14,000 Saudi students are caught in the middle of a diplomatic row between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Canada. (Photo illustration Shutterstock)

This Q&A is designed to help Saudi Arabian students sort through technical issues involved in the decision to stay or leave Canada. The answers are based on interviews with experts, published news reports and a review of Canadian immigration laws, regulations and policy. Students are urged to contact an immigration lawyer or a regulated Canadian immigration consultant (RCIC) accredited by the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council for legal advice on their own situation. Many colleges and universities have an RCIC on staff who can help students with specific issues.

Do I have to leave Canada?

No. If you remain in school, your study permit will continue to be valid until you finish your studies. If you are studying in Canada for less than six months, you probably do not have a study permit. In that case, you are here as a visitor and can stay up to six months from the time you entered the country. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has specifically welcomed Saudi students to continue studying if that’s what they want.

What if I can’t pay tuition?

If you have lost a scholarship or can’t pay tuition, you should speak with the registrar’s office at your institution immediately about options to fund your studies

If I stay in school, can I get a job?

Most students who have a study permit are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the term and full-time during regular school breaks. Students who are enrolled in English language programs and some other types of students are not entitled to work.

Can I stay in Canada if I drop out of school?

If you leave school, your study permit is no longer valid. The expiry date on your study permit is irrelevant if you withdraw from school or stop attending class. If you are no longer studying, you will need to convert your status to that of visitor. You will not be allowed to work in Canada as a visitor.

If you want to stay in Canada for more than a few months, you may be eligible to make a refugee claim or apply for permanent resident status as an economic immigrant.

If you cannot stay in school, but want to stay in Canada, you should seek professional legal advice immediately.

What are my options for staying in Canada long term?

International students who graduate from Canadian colleges and universities have many different paths to becoming a permanent resident of this country. All Canadian provinces offer special immigration streams for international students and there is a regional program, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, for graduates in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Many students also qualify for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience program in the federal government’s fast-track online immigration portal, Express Entry.

If I stay in Canada, can my family stay with me?

 If your spouse or children are already with you in Canada and have the proper permits and visas to be here, they will probably be included in any application you make to remain in Canada, including study permit extensions, post-graduation work permits and applications for permanent resident status or a refugee claim.

It may be that your spouse has a stronger foundation for making an application to remain in Canada. An immigration lawyer or RCIC can help you find the best path for your own family.

If you are in Canada with a family member who is not your spouse or your child, such as an accompanying brother, father or cousin, those family members will need to make separate arrangements to stay in Canada.




Share This