Flags of Alberta and Canada at the border.

Alberta has delayed a plan to kill a popular immigration program for international students.

The Alberta Post-Graduate Worker Category was supposed to end on Jan. 1, 2018 and be replaced by the Alberta Opportunity Stream, as detailed in a Polestar news story on Nov. 29.

Provincial officials decided just two weeks before the program’s end that it will be continued indefinitely.

“The planned changes, including the January start date, will be postponed in order for government to continue conversations with affected stakeholders,” reads a notice published on the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program website. “However, the goal remains the same – to better position foreign workers in Alberta for long-term success under standards that will meet the federal government’s requirements. Further updates will be announced in the new year. Prospective applicants can continue to apply under the existing streams into the new year.”

The Post-Graduate Worker Category was one of the few immigration programs in Canada that offered international students a path to permanent resident status right after graduation. Most provincial programs require that students work for at least a year after graduation before they seek permanent resident status.

The popular Post-Graduation Worker Category was eliminated as part of an overhaul of Alberta’s provincial nomination system. Details of the new system were announced in the fall and were supposed to take effect January 1. The rules for the new system required that students meet the same criteria as all other workers applying for immigration in Alberta. It’s unclear whether that that rule will still hold, or whether the new revision will include special consideration for international students.

The elimination of the Post-Graduation Worker Category was strongly opposed by some who predicted the new plan would discourage international students from attending college or university in Alberta, and make it more difficult for Alberta employers to recruit top employees.

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