As an international student in Canada, completing your studies does not have to mean you have reached the end of your time in Canada. On the contrary, studying in Canada can be a fast-track option for gaining permanent residence in Canada.
Many students use their studies as stepping stones 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), to 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 international students who have completed a qualification from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI), whether 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 and change jobs anytime.
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 be an excellent opportunity to gain valuable Canadian work experience and may open doors to permanent residency in Canada.
International students in Canada who find employment in occupations classified as TEER 0, 1 and 2 can claim Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points if they apply for permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).
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, IRCC will still assess your work permit on the typical length of the study program. In addition, 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. In addition, you can use it to restore your status if your study visa has expired.
How Do I Know if I Qualify for the PGWPP?
To qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, you must:
- Have attended an accredited academic, vocational, or professional training program in Canada for at least eight months and earned a degree, diploma, or certificate;
- Be a full-time student;
- Have a transcript and official letter from an eligible DLI confirming that you have met the program requirements; and
- Have a valid study permit or the authorization to study without one
You may only receive one PGWP. It is, therefore, essential 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 (DLI) is a provincial or territorial-approved school permitted to host international students in Canada. This includes
- Public post-secondary institutions, e.g. 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.
Here's our handy guide for a full breakdown of a DLI and how to ensure your school is designated to enrol international students.
If you study online, you may still be eligible for a PGWP. One hundred percent of your study program can be completed online from outside Canada. If you're in Canada, you may be eligible if your in-person classes in Canada have been transferred online.
How To Apply for the PGWP
If you’re eligible for a PGWP and can source all of your necessary documentation, applying for a PGWP can be a relatively straightforward. To give you a full breakdown of how you must undertake this process in 2023, here’s our guide on how to apply for the PGWP.
However, while our guides are a fantastic starting point, they can’t give you a strategy for your situation, ensure you fulfill the eligibility requirements, or that your documentation is up to date. To do this, you need to recruit the help of a certified immigration expert like a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). An RCIC has years of experience with these programs and can help you to avoid pitfalls, ensure your process isn’t delayed and maximize your chances of successfully landing your PGWP.
Stay in Canada After You Graduate
If you decide to make Canada your home after you graduate, there are several programs that you can apply for.
A post-graduation work permit will allow you to gain valuable Canadian work experience, giving you access to the CEC Express Entry program. This program can be issued for the length of your study program, for up to three years.
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. Likewise, if you graduate from an eight-month certificate program, you will be eligible for a valid Canadian work permit for at most eight months.
The CEC allows graduates to transition from temporary to permanent residence successfully. This is open to candidates familiar with Canadian society who can contribute to the Canadian economy. Knowledge of English or French, as well as qualifying work experience, is a must.
Canadian Experience Class
The 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.
CEC applications are processed through the new Express Entry selection for immigration to Canada. Eligible candidates must express an interest in immigrating to Canada, create an online Express Entry profile and receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence before they make an application.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)
Some provinces offer immigration options for graduates who have completed their qualifications in that province and would like to stay and work in Canada or start their entrepreneurial endeavours. 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?
Various factors can get your application for a PGWP rejected. The seven 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 an official school vacation)
- Your study permit has expired
- You applied outside of the 90-day restoration period
- You cannot provide your transcripts
- You worked more than 20 hours a week without 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 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. Therefore, 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?
Are you ready to start the application process? Let us help you take the first step toward making your dream of living and working in Canada a reality. Why waste time? Get ahead of the pack today and start the application process early with our team of experts.