Reasons Your Post-Graduation Work Permit Application Could be Rejected

As an international student in Canada, the opportunity to gain valuable work experience after graduation through a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is highly sought after. However, the application process for this Canadian work permit isn't without its challenges. Unfortunately, applications can be rejected, leaving you with dashed plans and frustration.

This blog post aims to equip you with the knowledge to navigate the PGWP application process successfully by outlining the most common reasons for rejection. We'll also explore some potential upcoming changes to the program.

Canada's Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program

Canada's Post-graduation Work Permit | Reasons Your Post-Graduation Work Permit Application Could be Rejected

The Post-Graduation Work Permit, offered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), bridges the gap between your Canadian studies and career goals by granting international graduates up to three years of open work experience to gain valuable skills, enhance employability, build professional networks, and potentially pave the way for Canadian permanent residency through programs like the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Reasons Your Post-Graduation Work Permit Application Could be Rejected

PGWP Rejection | Reasons Your Post-Graduation Work Permit Application Could be Rejected

Earning valuable Canadian work experience after graduation is a dream for many international students, and the PGWP program makes it a reality. The application process can be tricky, though. To ensure your PGWP application sails smoothly through review, let's explore the common reasons why applications get rejected.

Failing to Meet Eligibility Criteria

Obtaining a PGWP hinges on meeting the eligibility criteria established by IRCC. Here's a breakdown of the key requirements to ensure you're on the right track.

Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

Your program must originate from a DLI. The IRCC website provides a searchable list to verify your institution's DLI status. This ensures your program meets the necessary quality standards for PGWP eligibility.

Program Length

The program you complete must be at least eight months long. This minimum duration signifies a substantial educational investment, aligning with the purpose of the PGWP – gaining valuable work experience in Canada.

Full-Time Studies (with Exceptions)

Maintaining full-time student status throughout your program is crucial. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, medical leave documented by a healthcare professional may be considered. Some programs allow part-time studies in your final semester. It's essential to check the specific regulations for your program and situation.

Missing or Incomplete Documentation

A complete and meticulously organized application is paramount for PGWP success. Missing documents or inconsistencies can trigger red flags for IRCC, potentially delaying or even jeopardizing your application.

The IRCC website maintains a comprehensive list of documents needed for a PGWP application. This list can vary slightly depending on your specific circumstances, so it's crucial to consult the website directly. Common documents include:

  • Official transcripts from your DLI
  • Proof of completion letter from your DLI
  • Proof of financial support – this could include bank statements, letters of employment for financial supporters, or scholarship documentation
  • Your valid Canadian study permit
  • Medical exam results (if applicable)
  • Proof of work experience in Canada (if applicable)

Issues with Your Canadian Study Permit

The status of your Canadian study permit holds significant weight in your PGWP application. Here's a closer look at some potential pitfalls to avoid.

Expired Study Permit

Your study permit must be valid throughout the PGWP application process. If it expires before or during your application, it can lead to rejection. However, there might be a solution. If your study permit has expired within the last 90 days, you can apply for restoration alongside your PGWP application. This involves additional fees and documentation, so act promptly if this applies to you. It's important to note that restoration is not guaranteed, and strong justification for the lapse in status may be required.

Maintaining Authorized Work Status

Working without authorization during your studies can significantly impact your PGWP eligibility. Remember, you can only work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during regular semesters.

There are exceptions for full-time work during scheduled breaks (e.g., summer holidays). Always double-check the IRCC website or consult with your DLI to ensure you understand the authorized work hour limits.

Gaps in Your Study History

Unexplained breaks in your studies can raise questions for IRCC during your PGWP application review. From IRCC's perspective, significant unexplained gaps in your study history might raise concerns about your commitment to completing your program or suggest a discontinuity in your academic journey. This could potentially lead to a rejection of your PGWP application.

If you had a legitimate reason for taking a leave of absence, having proper documentation to support it is crucial. This documentation can vary depending on the reason for the gap, but some examples include:

  • Medical Records: If a medical condition necessitates a leave, documented proof from a licensed healthcare professional can be helpful.
  • Official Documentation for Personal Reasons: For personal leaves due to family emergencies or unforeseen circumstances, official documents like death certificates or court orders might be relevant.
  • School Documentation: Your DLI might be able to provide an official letter explaining the approved leave of absence and your return to studies in good standing.
  • Transparency is Essential: In your application package, consider including a brief explanation for the gap in your studies, along with supporting documentation. This demonstrates transparency and helps IRCC understand the context of your academic journey.

Late Application Submission

Timeliness is a cornerstone of a successful PGWP application. Generally, you have a specific window of opportunity – 180 days after your graduation – to submit your application to IRCC. Missing this deadline can lead to a rejection and potentially delay your plans to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Here's why staying on top of the deadlines is crucial.

Strict Deadline Enforcement

IRCC adheres strictly to application deadlines. Late submissions, regardless of the reason, are generally not accepted. This emphasizes the importance of planning and preparation well before your graduation date.

The Importance of Early Action

Starting the application process early allows you to gather all the necessary documents, address any potential issues, and ensure your application is complete and accurate before the deadline.

Being Enrolled in a Curriculum Licensing Agreement Program

Another scenario that can throw a curveball at your PGWP application is a study program delivered through a curriculum licensing agreement with an institution outside of Canada. These agreements allow private colleges in Canada to offer programs based on curriculum developed by another institution, often located overseas.

Here's the catch: While you might be enrolled in a program at a Canadian institution, the fact that the curriculum originates from abroad can impact your PGWP eligibility. Programs delivered under such agreements may not qualify for a PGWP.

To avoid this pitfall:

  • Check with Your Institution: Before you get too invested in the application process, have a conversation with your program advisor or the international student office at your college. They should be able to confirm whether your program qualifies for a PGWP based on the curriculum licensing agreement in place.
  • Consult IRCC Resources: Don't rely solely on your institution's information. IRCC's website has a dedicated section on curriculum licensing agreements for students.

By being proactive and gathering clear information about your program's eligibility, you can avoid the disappointment of a PGWP application rejection due to a curriculum licensing agreement. Remember, a little investigative work upfront can save you time and frustration down the road.

Other Potential Reasons For Rejection

While failing to meet eligibility criteria is the most common reason for PGWP application rejection, there are a few other potential roadblocks to be aware of.

Medical Inadmissibility

Canada prioritizes the health and safety of its citizens. If you have a medical condition deemed a significant public health risk, your PGWP application could be rejected. This is typically determined through a medical examination as part of the application process. If you have any concerns about a pre-existing medical condition, consult a medical professional familiar with Canadian immigration regulations.

Criminal Inadmissibility

A criminal record can also impact your PGWP application. IRCC will consider the severity of the offense and when it occurred. Serious criminal convictions or those that violate Canadian security could lead to rejection. If you have a criminal record, consider seeking professional advice from a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) or an immigration lawyer to understand your options.

False Representation

Intentionally submitting false information or misrepresenting facts in your application is a serious offense and will result in a rejection. Be truthful and transparent throughout the application process.

What to Do if Your Application is Rejected

What to do if Your Work Permit Application is Rejected |

Receiving a rejection for your PGWP application can be frustrating and confusing. However, it's important not to lose hope. Here are some steps you can take to move forward.

Understand the Reason for Rejection

The first step is understanding why your application was rejected. You can request a GCMS (Global Case Management System) note from IRCC. Though not always detailed, this note can provide insight into the reasons for rejection. It might highlight missing documents, ineligibility issues, or concerns about your study history.

Consider Your Options

Based on the reason for rejection, you have a few options to explore.


If you believe there's been a genuine error in assessing your application (e.g., missing documents you actually submitted), you can request a reconsideration within a specific timeframe outlined in the rejection letter. Ensure you address the supposed error with clear explanations and supporting evidence.


If the rejection can be addressed (e.g., obtaining missing documents improving your language test scores), you can reapply for the PGWP after rectifying the issue. Remember, application fees are not refundable, so ensure your reapplication is well-prepared.


In rare cases, you might be eligible to appeal the rejection to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. This is a complex process, and seeking legal counsel from an immigration lawyer is highly recommended.

Seek Professional Help

An experienced immigration consultant can be a valuable asset throughout this process. They can help you:

  • Review the GCMS Note and Rejection Letter: An immigration consultant can help you decipher the legalese and understand the specific reasons behind the rejection.
  • Develop a Strategy: Based on the rejection reason, they can advise you on the best course of action, whether it's a reconsideration, reapplication, or exploring alternative options.
  • Prepare a Stronger Application: If reapplying, they can guide you on how to address the shortcomings identified in the rejection and strengthen your application package.

Remember, rejection doesn't necessarily mean the end of your dream to gain Canadian work experience. By understanding the reason for rejection, exploring your options, and potentially seeking professional help, you can increase your chances of a successful PGWP application in the future.


My Post-graduation Work Permit Application Has Not Been Processed Yet. Can I work While I Wait For it?

Yes. According to the IRCC, you are allowed to work full-time while you await processing - but only if:

  • You had a valid Canadian study permit when you applied
  • You have completed your study program
  • You qualified to work off campus without a Canadian work permit during your period of study
  • You only worked the allowed number of hours

Learn more about in-demand jobs in Canada.

I Have Graduated From a DLI. Am I Guaranteed a PGWP?

Unfortunately, graduating from a DLI does not mean a PGWP is a given. Before you apply for one, do some research on schools with qualifying programs.