C$40m Raised for Education Finance Platform as Canada Eliminates Study Permit Rule
In an effort to expand educational opportunities for individuals on work visas, Canada has announced temporary rules while simultaneously introducing a financial support platform for immigrants pursuing studies in the country.
Passage, a new venture initiated by former CEO Martin Basiri of ApplyBoard, has secured C$40 million (US$30m) in seed funding, marking one of the largest seed funding raises ever in Canada. Martin Basiri, who co-founded ApplyBoard with his brothers, leads Passage.
The launch of Passage coincides with the Canadian government’s announcement of a temporary measure that removes the requirement for a separate study permit for temporary foreign workers enrolling in programs longer than six months.
Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, stated that the three-year temporary measure allows foreign workers to study while engaged in courses lasting longer than six months without the need for a separate study permit. The change enables individuals to enhance their education, receive additional training, upskill, or validate foreign credentials.
The new policy aims to empower foreign nationals to improve their skills, pursue career goals, and fulfill their aspirations while potentially serving as a future source of talent for Canada’s labor market. Fraser emphasized that the measure supports the healthcare sector by enabling foreign-trained doctors and nurses to contribute to Canada’s healthcare system. It also provides pathways for construction laborers to become tradespersons and participate in new home construction.
Fraser additionally revealed a Tech Talent Strategy at a tech conference in Toronto, featuring various aggressive attraction measures. The plan includes the creation of an open work permit stream for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the United States, open work permits for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations for up to five years, and efforts to position Canada as an attractive destination for digital nomads.
Passage aims to connect talented immigrants with life-changing educational and career opportunities in Canada. Recognizing the global pool of dedicated talent seeking to study and work in Canada but lacking the financial means to do so, Passage’s mission is to provide access to educational and career opportunities by offering financial solutions and logistical support.
The platform will collaborate with financial institutions to secure funding for immigrants based on their credit profiles in their home countries and future earning potential in Canada, similar to models employed by MPOWER and Prodigy Finance. This approach allows Passage to match immigrants’ skills with the most critical workforce needs and empower them to pursue education and career growth.
Drive Capital is leading Passage’s latest seed funding round, viewing it as an investment in Canada’s future. The funding will enable Passage to expand its operational capacity, enhance its technological platform, and launch its first pilot project, which aims to assist over 100 female-identifying students from Afghanistan in accessing STEM education opportunities in Canada.