Note: This is a first-person story submitted by Joohi Shaik, in her own words, to raise awareness around the issues faced by PGWP holders in Canada. The purpose of this story is to shed light on the challenges faced by thousands of foreign workers who are facing an expiring PGWP and the impact it has on their careers and livelihood. You can Submit your story as well.
Submitted By: Joohi Shaik
As a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holder in Canada, I feel a strong responsibility to raise my voice for thousands of International Workers facing similar challenges. Our PGWPs are expiring soon, and some of us already have an expired status. I hope this story will bring a positive change in Canada’s Immigration policies by making everyday Canadians aware of the issues faced by the very International workers who cater the needs of everyday Canadians by filling critical labour shortages, while they navigate through the woes of the Canadian Immigration system.
My Journey as a PGWP Holder in Canada
After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Law from India, which is a professional degree, I arrived in Canada in December 2017 as an International student. After completing a Diploma in Human Resources Management, I received a Post Graduate Work Permit and I am currently working in a NOC O management role for a globally-reputed car rental company.
The Injustice Faced by 2023 PGWP Holders in regards to the PGWP extension of 2022:
I cannot stress enough the injustice faced by 2023 PGWP holders. Why were 2022 PGWP holders eligible for an extension while we are not? Our permits are expiring just 2-3 months after our peers who were eligible for the 2022 extension. This has caused immense stress and uncertainty in our lives, affecting our mental and physical health. It is not our fault that our permits are expiring without receiving an Invitation to apply, how could we have received an ITA when the Express Entry draws were paused?
We left everything behind in our home country, sacrificing everything for a better life and career in Canada, only to be met with this kind of inhumane treatment.
The Challenges Faced by PGWP Holders in Canada during the Pandemic:
I was laid off from my first job in Canada just 10 days after starting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent over a year searching for a job that would qualify me for Permanent Residency, applying for at least 500 positions, with no success. I eventually found a NOC B (National Occupation Classification) job, but the work environment was toxic and I was not treated with respect. I could not change employers because IRCC requires 1 year of continuous work experience with the same employer. Despite these challenges, I continued to study and improved my English proficiency. However, I was forced to quit my job due to a family emergency and lost the opportunity to apply for the MPNP. I now have a better NOC 0 job, but I still do not have the required 6 months of continuous work experience to be eligible for MPNP.
My PGWP expires next month and I am uncertain about my future. I recently signed a rental lease, hoping that my Express Entry score of 487 would be selected in the draws. However, the CEC draws stopped at a score of 490 and I am just 3 points away. Despite the recent FSW draw picking a score of 489, I have not received my ITA yet. I am unable to understand the calculation made by IRCC, and I am not alone in my confusion.
The Obstacles in Obtaining LMIA
I have tried to obtain an LMIA, reaching out to potential employers through the Government of Canada’s Job Bank website. However, many of these jobs are already sold or backfilled for $40,000 to $50,000 CAD. Regardless of my skills and talents, I was unable to secure a Job to support me with a LMIA, why? because they are not actually there to fill the job vacancies. It is heartbreaking to see how immigrants are being exploited in these vulnerable times. IRCC’s logic in requiring a skilled worker with a high CRS score to obtain an LMIA-based job is unjust and inhumane.
Besides, how am I supposed to come up with an amount so ridiculous? By selling my kidney?
The Impact on Mental Health and Livelihood
The PGWP extension policy has not yet been announced, leaving me and thousands of others in a state of fear and uncertainty. The lack of empathy and responsibility shown by IRCC is heartbreaking and their silence in the face of numerous protests, emails, and TikTok videos is unacceptable. The impact of IRCC’s failures and website glitches on our careers and lives is devastating. I get up, in the middle of the night and have panic attacks.