Drive-By Education: The Role of Vocational Courses in the Migration Projects of Foreign Nurses in Canada


The connection between international education and immigration has drawn the attention of scholars interested in exploring how immigrants strategically use international education as a means to facilitate their migration projects, including their successful integration in their chosen countries of migration. My article contributes to this literature by focusing on the experiences of foreign nurses who enter Canada as international students enrolled in vocational nursing programs, subsequently transition to temporary work permits, and from there to permanent residence. I analyze the classed implications of this mode of entry, contrasting it with another popular form of temporary entrance: temporary foreign work programs. Vocational nursing education, as undertaken by these nurses, is the gateway through which they enter Canada, and the courses offering such education are deemed “worth” costly tuition fees only insofar as they provide a sound stepping stone to the next phase of migration. In this scenario, the connection between international education and immigration has become articulated to such a degree that vocational nursing education, having lost its original significance, is reframed as convenient “drive-by” for immigration, something to be gotten over in a quick and cursory manner, albeit offering significant benefits in terms of residence rights not available to temporary workers in other immigration categories. At the same time, the influx of foreign nurses is revitalizing vocational programs and contributing to the development of the region.

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    “The NOC is a system used by the Government of Canada to classify jobs (occupations). Jobs are grouped based on the type of work a person does and the types of job duties” (Government of Canada 2017).


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Correspondence to Shiva Nourpanah.

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Nourpanah, S. Drive-By Education: The Role of Vocational Courses in the Migration Projects of Foreign Nurses in Canada. Int. Migration & Integration 20, 995–1011 (2019).

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  • International education
  • International students
  • Temporary work permits
  • Immigration
  • Foreign nurses