Indeed, UBC international students were surprised to learn recently from a Canada immigration officer that PhD students can no longer apply for permanent residency till after they have finished a PhD program and have worked in Canada for one year with a full time work permit (and not the study permit which foreign students normally hold).
It turned out that since June 26, 2010, international Graduate Students who have worked for more than 2 years as research assistants in Canadian universities are no longer eligible to apply for PR (permanent residency) through the “Skilled Worker” class. This is because code 4122, which was the code for international MSc. and PhD. students, is now removed from this list (effective June 26, 2010).
The links also state that international graduate students can apply through the CEC (Canadian Experience Class) or the PNP (Provincial Nominee Program).
These 2 programs however do not allow these students to apply for permanent residence status before they graduate.
To be eligible for the PNP class, the applicant MUST have finished his graduate program and must have found a job in the “same” province that he/she graduated from. In other words, a graduate who studied in BC but who is working in Ontario cannot apply for PR….
To be eligible for the CEC class, the applicant must have finished his/her MSc. or PhD. program inside Canada, and must have worked for one year, OR, must have a full time paid job with work permit (which is different from the study permit given to students) for at least 2 years.