Emigro was inspired by the difficulties that international students in Canada face while applying for permanent residency. Even though there are resources from the Canadian Government to assist in the process, there is so much information available and so many different ways to immigrate that choosing the right one can be difficult.

With Emigro, international students have a tool that helps them in determine under what program they should qualify and what will be the steps to follow to obtain their permanent residency. With this, I hope more than 31% of students can remain in Canada. 

Timeline: 8 weeks.

Role: Lead UX/UI Designer

Platform: iOS

Project type: Academic

Tools: Figma, Sketch, Illustrator

Imagery & Icons: Undraw, Flaticon, DrawKit

 

HOW IT STARTED

Personal journey as inspiration

Five years ago, I decided to move to Canada. I was told I could study one year, work one year, and apply for my Permanent Residency. Luckily, that was my case. However, I realized that many of my friends were not able to follow that path successfully. After some research, I realized that just 31% of all students coming to Canada could successfully stay here.

%

of students want to remain in Canada

%

of students obtain their PR

METHODOLOGY

Design Thinking

I worked with the Design Thinking methodology. This methodology helped me understand the individual needs involved while re-framing the issue in a human-centric way. After that, I was able to generate multiple solutions during the ideation period. Prototyping and testing helped me to deliver the best possible solution for my users.

Empathize

Define

Ideate

Prototype

Test

STEP 1 Empathize

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), international students choose Canada because of its high educational standard and reputation as a multicultural and inclusive society.

Canada provides one of the most affordable packages globally, enabling international students to work while studying, then receive a post-graduation work permit to acquire Canadian work experience, and then choose from more than 80 economic class immigration sources. International students have shown an interest in becoming permanent residents of Canada after completing their studies, according to the CBIE. 

Why is this a problem?

International students invest time, money and effort to remain in Canada. However, due to the lack of clarity in the process to follow after their student visa expires, they need to return to their home country.

What is the project goal?

With this project, I will create awareness of the steps to follow within a time frame for international students to become permanent residents successfully.

Who is the most affected?

Students are the ones who are most affected as they cannot accomplish their dream. However, the Canadian economy itself is largely affected if they are not able to remain here. 

Constraints faced

Time was the principal constraint. Designing a full project in eight weeks was a challenge. Interviewing and gathering insights via Zoom made it harder to read user’s reactions.

In 2019, Canada had over 640,000 international students, more than tripling its overseas student population in ten years. Each year, Canada welcomes foreign students from around 175 countries. In 2019, Canada approved 404,000 new study permits. Study permits are usually granted for people between 18-35 years old.

After completing their studies, many of them are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to work in Canada for up to three years. Students can use the PGWP to acquire Canadian work experience, which they can then use to support their eligibility for a Canadian immigration program.

Students coming to Canada over the last years

Design challenge

How might we help international students become aware of the requirements needed to remain in Canada after their student visa has expired?

AFTER SECONDARY RESEARCH

What I believed to be true

Then I thought about some of the assumptions I had about my project, which I’d have to verify or refute through primary research.

For example, I believed that international students didn’t know what the process is to get their permanent residency, and that would explain the low percentage of them getting their PR. I also assumed some students might find it difficult to establish as not all of them have an intermediate to advanced English level.

After analyzing all my assumptions, I was able to define my hypothesis:

I believe that international students are not aware of the process to follow after their student visa expires in order to get their permanent residency.

 

I will know this is true when interviewees agree to that statement and they advise they haven’t done any research to start their process.

PRIMARY RESEARCH

Understanding my users

I conducted five interviews to learn about my users’ pain points, behaviours and motivations while looking to get their PR. Through these interviews, I also validated my previous assumptions.

I had these interviews via Google Meet and two face-to-face as part of my primary research. These interviews consisted of a blend of behavioural and attitudinal questions. To ensure that I designed the best for my users, my interviewees matched the following criteria:

  • Male or female around 18-35 years old
  • Currently in Canada under their study permit or PGWP
  • Looking to get their PR in the future
  • Living in Toronto or GTa

Some of the insights I gathered were:

“It depends where you are looking, you will get different answers. Even consultants or lawyers provide different information.”

“It is hard to keep track of the steps to follow to apply for PR. I don’t even know if I should apply now or later”

“If it was an easy process everyone should be giving me the same information!”

Key Insight

In order to help international students understand the process to remain in Canada, they want a clear step-by-step guide to follow, stating the papers they will need and the deadline to submit their documents.

STEP 2 Define

PERSONA & EXPERIENCE MAP

A visual representation of my users

After analyzing all data collected, I developed a persona: Bruna Pereira. She was the representation of my final users and helped me as guide to create the best possible product for my target users.

Creating a persona was the first step to understand my users’ needs. I proceeded to develop the experience map. This allowed me to identify the area of opportunity.

Developing a persona and a map experience helped me identify the stage where my users had more pain points. Overall this process can be complicated, and people get frustrated. I realized that the best moment to help my users was at the beginning of their process. Assisting at the beginning of the process would allow me to guide the steps they would follow under a specific immigration program.

STEP 3 Ideate

USER STORIES & TASK FLOWS

Achieving the dream of becoming a permanent resident

Based on the insights I gathered from my interviews, I started to write the user stories that will help me to answer those pain points.
These stories were told from Bruna’s point of view to show how the functionality of my app will assist her on her journey. The user stories reflected the various aspects of the solution I was attempting to provide and the different options to address the need.

As users wanted to know when to apply and what they would need to apply, I selected the two user stories I will be working on. I created the task flows for those two stories. I could visualize the architecture of my content and design functionality so users can easily navigate through the design to achieve their desired goal.

STEP 4 Prototype

SKETCHING AND WIREFRAMING

How everything started to come to life

After some brainstorming, the primary and secondary tasks came to life. For these sketches, I produced several iterations of each screen. I explored numerous approaches to address my users’ needs better while staying competitive and providing an innovative solution.

I continued designing the digital wireframes. Wireframes showed the overall page’s structure, design, interface design, user flow, features, and expected interactions.

For the first version, I planned the flow for Bruna, who will be using the app for the first time.

Bruna will start by login in and answering some questions to get personalized information. The app will let her know what program she qualifies for. After that, she reviews the guide tailored for her and starts checking the steps. As she reviews, she can mark as completed or set up reminders to complete tasks. 

STEP 5 Test

RECEIVING FEEDBACK

What users liked…or not

Designing the best possible product wouldn’t be possible without testing. So I proceeded to do two rounds of testing to improve my product. Then, following a prioritization matrix, some of the major changes were:

STEP 6 Brand Identity

MORE THAN A NAME

Differentiating from the competitors

For the next part, I started looking at what would be the visual identity. I wanted to bring happiness to my users while guiding them in a process that can be stressful and complicated, so I looked for a clear and friendly interface. 

... And the name?

I started to write a list of possible names to have a strong identity, varying from ideas related to a to-do list, growth, and immigration. I also wrote a list of adjectives and attributes that I believed represented the brand.

Inspiration

I created a moodboard to help me identifying different aspects of my project, such as the tone and feel of my app. Here I was able to collect images connected to the previous list of adjectives created to identify the brand.

COLOUR, TYPOGRAPHY, WORDMARK & MORE

Final touches before the mock-up

Once I had the feeling of the app I selected some colours from the moldboard. I looked for some inspiration to design the navbar. As I was looking for a positive and young vibe I choose yellow as the primary colour and “Poppins” as the main font for the app.

#F3BC40
#4C76D2
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#B6C9F2
#FFF8E8

Aa

Poppins Bold 34pt

Poppins Bold 27pt

Poppins Bold 19pt

Poppins Semibold 17pt

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Choosing a name was as important as defining the colours and font to use. I decided on the name “emigro.” Emigro is the Spanish translation of emigrate. I decided on that name to express what users are going through and give uniqueness by bringing a different language.

After translating sketches to a digital version I finalized the wordmark with “Mermaid” font as it has rounded serifs instead of linear and angular. I wanted rounded serifs to bring the idea of something organic and with movement.

IT BECOME REAL

The final feel & look

Once I had all the elements, it was time to bring the app to life. So, I looked for inspiration to refine all components like icons, cards, images, reminders, and bars one more time. During this phase, I also made sure that everything was compliant with WCAG standards. Prototyping also had some iterations as I looked for the best possible experience for the users.

What's next?

ITERATE, TEST, REPEAT

Product evolution

As part of the next steps, I plan to launch a marketing site. Having a marketing site will help me promote the brand and attract more users.

There is also a plan to create an alternative platform design. This would be a design for an iPad where there would be an extra feature. This will allow users to upload documents and keep track of the documents needed during their process.

As the app aspires to streamline the immigration process, I would like Emigro to help students and all immigrants successfully apply for Canadian residency. This would require some considerations and analysis of the different options that each province offers and the different requirements needed as per the users’ home country.

RESULT

What I learned over 8 weeks

Listening is key

Learning to listen to what users say is one of the most valuable skills I’ve acquired. My approach should have a simple solution to help them achieve their goal since I’m creating something to help them ease the pressure points they’re already experiencing.

Iteration never ends

When it comes to creating the best possible solution, iteration is essential. Although sometimes I wanted to jump and start creating everything, I learned the value of sketches with pen and paper and iterated as many times as needed.