As an international student in Canada, completing your studies does not have to mean you have reached the end of your time in Canada. In fact, studying in Canada can be a fast-track option for gaining permanent residence in Canada.
Many students use their studies as a stepping stone for temporary work and permanent residency in Canada. Let's take a closer look at one of the most popular ways to do so, via Canada's Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), see who's eligible to apply for it, and how it works.
What is the Post-Graduation Work Program?
The Post-Graduation Work Program or PGWP is designed to help foreign students who have completed a qualification from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI), whether it be a certificate, diploma, or degree, stay and work in Canada. International PGWP students in Canada will receive an open work permit. This work permit will allow graduates to work full-time, part-time, or be self-employed for any employer anywhere in Canada.
How Long Will My Work Permit Be Valid For?
If successful, graduates will be able to work for as many hours as they like, and depending on the length of their study program, the work permit will be valid for anywhere between eight months to three years.
This will not only be a great opportunity for you to gain valuable Canadian work experience but may open up doors to getting permanent residency in Canada. In fact, international students in Canada who find employment in occupations classified as high-skilled or NOC 0, A, or B will be able to claim Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points if they apply for permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which is managed by the Express Entry system.
Below is how you can determine the length of your work permit based on the length of your study program.
|Determining the Length of Your PGWP|
|Length of Study Program||Length of Work Permit|
|Eight months - two years||Same length as your study program (Master's and Doctoral candidates may be eligible for a three-year work permit)|
|Two years or longer||Three years|
|More than one program completed within two years||Length of both programs combined (if the combined length is two years or longer the work permit should be valid for three years)|
Please note that if you have completed your study program in a shorter time than the usual length of the study program, your work permit will still be assessed on the usual length of the study program. Long-distance learners may qualify if less than 50 percent of the study program was completed online.
You will have 180 days after receiving your transcript from your DLI to submit your application for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. If your study permit is about to expire before you receive your final marks you can either apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada or leave and apply from outside Canada. If your study visa has already expired you can apply to have your status restored.
How Do I Know if I Qualify for the PGWPP?
To qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program you will need to meet the following criteria:
Requirements for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP):
- Have completed an academic, vocational, or professional training program at an eligible institution in Canada for at least eight months leading to a degree, diploma, or degree;
- Be a full-time student;
- Have a transcript and official letter from an eligible DLI confirming that you have met the requirements of the program; and
- Have or had a valid study permit or had the authorization to study without a study permit.
Please note that you may only receive one PGWP. It is therefore important to ensure that your passport is valid for the entire length of your work permit.
What is a Designated Learning Institution?
A Designated Learning Institution or DLI is a provincial or territorial-approved school that is permitted to host international students in Canada. This includes:
- Public post-secondary institution eg. colleges, trade or technical schools, universities, or CEGEP (Quebec);
- Private post-secondary institutions in Quebec offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS) or an Attestation of Vocational Specialization (AVS);
- A Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees
Due to COVID-19 exemptions and restrictions, you will be able to travel to Canada to study as long as you are enrolled in a DLI that has a COVID-19 readiness plan. You will, however, have to quarantine for 14 days before you can start studying in Canada. This is to ensure that all students' health and safety are protected.
COVID-19 Special Measures
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a new Canadian work visa program to help students who were affected by the pandemic restrictions. On January 8, 2021, a temporary immigration program was launched to allow international graduates, whose work permit had expired, to apply for a new work permit which will be valid for 18 months. This would allow these students to stay in Canada and gain the necessary work experience required to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Requirements to Qualify for This Special PGWPP:
- Possessing a PGWPP that expired on/after January 30, 2020, or that will expire four months or less after the application date;
- Was in Canada at the time the policy took effect on January 27, 2021, and stayed in Canada since;
- Have valid temporary status or in process of restoring status;
- Have applied for PGWPP between January 27 and July 27, 2021; and
- Have a valid passport that is valid for at least 18 months.
If you are studying online due to COVID-19 travel restrictions you may still be eligible for a PGWP. 100 percent of your study program can be completed online from outside Canada. All of your online study time completed outside of Canada will count towards your PGWP if they started or were ongoing between March 2020 and fall 2021.
If you're in Canada you may be eligible if:
- your in-person classes in Canada have been transferred online;
- you had to put your studies on hold or study part-time during winter, spring, or summer 2020 semesters
Please note that as of the fall 2020 semester you must be studying full-time to be eligible.
If you're not in Canada you may be eligible if:
- have enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020 or;
- have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021 and have a study permit, your permit has been approved and you are waiting for it to be approved, or you applied for a study permit before starting your study program.
Stay in Canada After You Graduate
If you decide to stay in Canada after you graduate, there are a number of programs that you can apply for.
A post-graduation work permit will allow you to gain valuable Canadian work experience, which in turn gives you access to the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) visa. This program can be issued for the length of your study program, for up to three years duration.
For example, if you graduate from a four-year degree program, you could be eligible for a three-year work permit if you meet the criteria. If you graduate from an eight-month certificate program, you would be eligible for a Canadian work permit that is valid for no more than eight months.
The Canadian Experience Class visa gives graduates the opportunity to make a successful transition from temporary to permanent residence. This is open to candidates who are familiar with Canadian society and can contribute to the Canadian economy. Knowledge of English or French, as well as qualifying work experience, is a must.
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an immigration category for Canada’s temporary foreign workers who wish to become permanent residents. Temporary foreign workers are also ideal candidates for Canadian immigration and permanent residency.
Canadian Experience Class applications are processed through the new Express Entry selection for immigration to Canada. Candidates who are eligible must express an interest in immigrating to Canada, create an online Express Entry profile and receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence before they make an application.
Provincial Nominee Programs
Some provinces, offer immigration options for graduates who have completed their qualifications in that particular province and would like to stay on and work in Canada or start their own entrepreneurial endeavors. Provinces that offer these opportunities include:
- British Columbia;
- New Brunswick;
- Newfoundland and Labrador;
- Nova Scotia;
- Prince Edward Island; and
How can my PGWP get rejected?
There are various factors that can get your application for a PGWP rejected. The 7 most common reasons are:
- You studied at a non-eligible PGWP institution
- You studied part-time at some point
- You took a study gap (not official school vacation)
- Your study permit had expired
- You applied outside of the 90 day restoration period
- You cannot provide your transcripts
- You worked more than 20 hours a week when you only had a study permit
Can I work anywhere in Canada with a PGWP?
Under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program you can work anywhere in Canada, in any sort of job. The work permit for post-graduation is an open work permit. This implies you may work in any occupation in Canada and switch employers whenever you choose. However, you can't work for an employer on the list of ineligible employers.
When can I apply for a PGWP?
You can only apply once you've received your Letter of Completion, which indicates that you've fulfilled all of the program's prerequisites. The date on which your Letter of Completion becomes accessible differs from the day on which your degree, certificate, and graduation ceremony are conferred.
What if I want to go back to my studies?
PGWPs can only be obtained once. While having both a PGWP and a study permit is permissible, if you want to continue studying in Canada, you should wait until after you have completed your second program to apply.
Are You Ready For Success?
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