An international student who has recently graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution may apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit.
These work permits allow foreign nationals who have recently graduated from a Canadian learning institution to obtain valuable Canadian work experience. Post-graduation work permits are valid for a period of time between eight months to three years.
Temporary Extension of Work Permit Length
A temporary potential extension of a permit’s expiry, up to 18 months, was announced by the Government of Canada for valid permits. This extension must be applied for online.
What Is A Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?
Post Graduation Work Permits are open work permits. You can apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit if you are an international student and have graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Generally, you should apply before your valid study permit expires.
Eligible International Students
To be considered eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit, you must be a foreign national and at least 18 years old and have completed an eligible program of study. You are not required to have a job offer to obtain this work permit.
Eligibility Criteria for a Program of Study
You must have studied full-time in Canada, within a program that lasted a minimum of eight months. Generally, the program must be a public post-secondary school degree, diploma, or certificate program of studies, such as an academic program, vocational program, or professional training program.
Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
You must have completed your study program at a DLI; the program must be an approved level of study. Designated learning institutions include educational facilities such as a public college or university in Canada, or a vocational education program in Quebec. A Private college or university following the same rules as a public one is also eligible. Private secondary and post-secondary schools with professional diploma programs, consisting of at least educational 900 hours may also be eligible. Finally, a DLI may also be a Canadian private school that is permitted to award degrees.
To confirm if your institution is designated, check the Government of Canada website.
Deadline to Apply for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
You must apply within 180 days (about six months) of the date you complete your study program. Whenever making an application, ensure that Canadian Immigration has all of your up-to-date information.
Valid Study Permit
If you are applying from within Canada, you must have a valid status when you apply. However, you may apply from overseas.
If you apply for a PGWP before your study permit expires, you are eligible to start working full time immediately, while your application is being processed.
Expired Study Permit
If your student permit has expired, you may be eligible to restore your status and apply, if you apply within 90 days.
Otherwise, you can apply for visitor status before making your PGWP application.
A Post Graduation Work Permit usually takes about 80 to 180 days to process. During the processing time, you are allowed to work in Canada, as long as you applied for the permit before the expiry of your study permit.
Applying from Overseas
You may still apply if you leave Canada after completing your studies. Additional documentation may be required to process your application. Previously, applying from outside of Canada was not allowed, but changes now allow it.
Applying for Another Work Permit
You can apply for another work permit. You can apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment or Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt permit. However, after a PGWP, international students already have Canadian work experience, so are eligible to apply under immigration programs aimed at candidates with Canadian work experience. This includes the Canadian Experience Class program, Federal Skilled Worker program, Provincial Nominee programs, and Quebec Immigration options.
When to Apply for a PGWP
You can only apply for a PGWP once. If you plan to take more than one program, it is worth waiting to apply for your PGWP until after your longest period of study, as this may get you a PGWP that is valid longer, up to three years.
You also can only apply after your Letter of Completion, which is your proof of program completion, becomes available. This date is different from the dates of your degree conferral, graduation ceremony, or diploma.
A PGWP May Help When Applying for a Permanent Residence
If you have work experience in Canada, it opens a lot of opportunities to obtain Canadian permanent residence.
The Post Graduation Work Program is aimed at allowing international students to gain valuable Canadian Work experience, but also to provide a path to permanent residence status in the country. It creates an opportunity to apply through the Express Entry immigration mechanism.