ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — At the College of the North Atlantic here, a young Chinese woman stood discussing her future with two fellow students, a Bangladeshi man and a Korean woman, amid a flow of mostly pale Newfoundlanders in down coats and hoodies heading for class.
“The environment here is really good, so I think for my health I will stay,” said Fei Jie, from China’s eastern Shandong Province. The others said they, too, were planning to remain in the country after graduation, eventually becoming Canadian citizens.
Their path is no accident. They are three of hundreds of thousands of international students in Canada today as part of a government strategy to reshape Canadian demographics by funneling well-educated, skilled workers through the university system. It is an answer to Canada’s aging population and slowing birthrate, and an effort to shore up the nation’s tax base.
In November, the federal government changed its electronic immigration-selection system, called Express Entry, to make it easier for international students to become citizens. And a bill pending in the Senate would restore a rule that counts half of students’ time spent studying in Canada toward the period of residency required for citizenship.