If you are an international student fulfilling 100% of your studies online, while residing outside of Canada, you may be eligible to apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) program upon completion of your study program. Students have also been granted additional time, because Canada has extended the period in which students can follow their online studies, from December 31st in 2021 to August 31st in 2022.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced a special provision in 2020, reflecting the coronavirus pandemic, that permits international students to complete their Canadian program while living overseas, and still be eligible to obtain a PGWP when they move to Canada.

For students who have commenced between March 2020 and summer 2022, the program will also cover two study programs. You must have enrolled with a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and satisfied other requirements to acquire a PGWP. A DLI is a college or university that is accredited by the Canadian government to welcome international students. Both study programs must be with an eligible DLI and completed within 2 years, and each program must meet all PGWP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months long.

What is the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

The Canadian Government offers the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) as an incentive to attract international students, with the hope of retaining them as immigrants. The International Online Student Work Permit is valid for the length of each student’s educational program, up to three years.

Canada’s PGWP is an open work permit. As an international graduate, you don’t need a job offer to work for a Canadian employer. It enables international graduates to gain professional work experience in Canada, which is beneficial when PGWP holders take the next step to apply for Canadian immigration. Canada has over 100 different immigration pathways, and many of them reward candidates who have studied and/or worked in Canada.

In most cases, one year of professional work experience is required in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) – with a code of 0, A, or B – by the PGWP holder to be eligible to apply for a Canadian permanent residence program.

Most Canadian work permits require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), but the PGWP does not.

What are the PGWP Eligibility Requirements?

Applicants are only able to receive one post-graduation work permit during their lifetime. You must currently hold a valid temporary status or have left Canada to obtain a PGWP.

You must meet and submit clear evidence that the criteria has been met for the following:

  • You have completed an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada, at least 8 months in duration. Not all programs of study are eligible for a post-graduate work permit, so you should verify PGWP eligibility before selecting your program.
  • Your study program must lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.
  • You must have maintained full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the program or programs of study, to be included with the application. During the pandemic, this requirement has been waived for certain international students, as noted above.
  • You have received a transcript and official letter from the eligible designated learning institution to confirm that you met all the requirements to complete the DLI’s study program. The transcript and official letter must be included in your post-graduation work permit application.

Within 180 days of the date of application for your PGWP, you must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • You hold a valid study permit.
  • You held a study permit.
  • You were authorized to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit under paragraphs 188(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PGWP?

A PGWP application can take anywhere from 80 to 180 days to process. You are free to work in Canada, while you wait for your PGWP, provided you applied before the expiry date of your student permit. If you leave Canada after your studies have been completed, you can apply for a PGWP from overseas.

How Long is a PGWP Valid?

Your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) could be valid anywhere between 8 months and up to 3 years. The actual length of your permit will depend on the length of the Canadian study program you completed. The permit won’t be longer than the length of your study program.

If your program was less than 8 months, you aren’t eligible for a PGWP. If your program was at least 8 months, but less than 2 years, you may be given a PGWP that’s valid for up to the same length as your study program. If your program was 2 years or more, you may be given a PGWP that’s valid for 3 years. If you completed more than 1 program, you may be able to get a PGWP that combines the length of each of the programs. Each of the programs you completed must be PGWP-eligible and at least 8 months in length.

What if my Passport Expires Before my PGWP?

It is important to make certain your passport is valid for the full PGWP period you’re eligible for. If your passport expires earlier, IRCC will only issue you a PGWP that’s valid until your passport expires, or you will be advised to extend it to get the full validity.

What is the Deadline for PGWP Applications?

Your deadline for applying for a post-graduate work permit is within 180 days (6 months) of obtaining a transcript and official letter from the eligible DLI, confirming that the requirements to complete the program of study have been met.

If your study permit is set to expire before your marks come in, you have two options. You can apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada longer, or you can leave Canada and then apply for the PGWP.

When applying, you must demonstrate that you hold a valid study permit, you held a study permit, or that you were authorized to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit under paragraphs 188(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Can I Convert my PGWP to Permanent Residence (PR)?

Once a PGWP applicant has enough work experience in Canada, it opens quite a few opportunities for obtaining permanent residence in Canada. Some of the top pathways are:

  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is managed under the Express Entry program, and uses a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank interested candidates. Those applicants with competitive CRS scores will receive invitations from IRCC to apply for Canadian permanent residence. To be eligible, the candidate must have at least twelve months of full-time, or an equivalent amount of part-time, skilled work experience in Canada.
  • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) is also managed under the Express Entry program, using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank interested candidates who desire to settle in Canada permanently. Federal Skilled Workers are not required to have Canadian work experience to enter the Express Entry pool. Instead, there’s a minimum points requirement that must be met, based upon work experience, education and language ability. Those applicants who qualify to be in the pool, and have the most competitive CRS scores, will receive invitations to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
  • Federal Skilled Trades (FST) is also managed by the Express Entry program. As with the other Express Entry programs, FST uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to rank interested candidates against one another. Each year, over half of all immigrants to Canada are skilled workers welcomed through various economic programs, including the Federal Skilled Trades program. To qualify for FST, a candidate must have at least 2 years of full-time work experience in a skilled trade (or an equal amount of part-time experience).
  • Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP) offer a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for individuals who are interested in immigrating to a specific Canadian province or territory. These programs have become the fastest-growing route to economic immigration in Canada. Successful applicants to a PNP will be nominated by the province to submit an application for permanent residence to the Canadian federal government.
  • The Quebec’s Immigration Programs reflect significantly more autonomy in immigration policies and procedures, granted by the federal government. Under the Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ), immigration applications are approved through two separate processes: selection and admission. Selection occurs at the provincial level and admission occurs at the federal level. Other programs include the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSW), Quebec Experience Program (PEQ), Quebec Investor Program, Quebec Entrepreneur Program, Quebec Self-Employed Worker Program, Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) and Validated Job Offers.

If you are looking to apply for the post graduate work permit contact one of Pax Law Lawyers today!


Post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements

How long is a post-graduation work permit valid?

Extend your stay in Canada: About the document (visitor record)

Immigrate through Express Entry


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