International students bring a vibrant, new, and fresh perspective to the academic landscape in Canada when they arrive from their home countries to study at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).
Canada takes immense pride in being a preferred destination for international students looking to further their lives and educations.
Beyond their institutional education, however, another point of pride for Canada is that most international students have shown a desire to stay here after graduation. In fact, a 2022 Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) survey revealed that “59.4% of respondents” said that they wanted to become Canadian permanent residents after graduation.
One step towards this goal for international students is through Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program. This program provides a maximum three-year open work permit that enables eligible DLI graduates to work for a Canadian employer of their choice without an existing job offer at the time of application. It is important to note that while this program allows for permits of up to three years, the actual length of a permit will depend on the length of the educational program from which the applicant graduated.
PGWP eligibility is determined by whether the applicant has:
Quebec note: Graduates of vocational and professional training programs in Quebec must meet additional PGWP criteria outlined by IRCC depending on the type of diploma issued
“Full-time student status” requirement note: Exemptions may apply to those who have begun or will begin a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022, graduates whose program was already in progress in March 2020, or international students who took a leave from their studies in their final academic session
Students studying at a DLI via distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic may still be eligible for a PGWP. Provided that all other criteria are met, there are several date-specific exceptions to the typical eligibility requirements set out by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). They are as follows:
All PGWP hopefuls have six months (180 days) to submit their application from the day they receive their official transcript and letter confirming program completion.
Upon receiving the above documentation, which must be included in the application itself, the process becomes rather simple.
Much of the applicant’s basic responsibilities surround simply gathering the following documents identified on the Canadian government’s website:
Note: IRCC may request additional documents when an application is received
Once this step is complete, applicants can proceed to apply for their PGWP either online or on paper, if necessary. Application steps will vary based on whether the PGWP hopeful is applying from within or outside of Canada.
It is crucial to note that applicants must prove they either currently hold a valid study permit, have held a study permit in the past or have been authorized to study in Canada without one. If an applicant’s current study permit is set to expire, they can either apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada longer or depart Canada and apply for a PGWP from abroad.
If the completed program lasted:
Additionally, if an applicant has completed more than one (min. eight-month) program, they may be able to combine the earned PGWP’s together
PGWP holders put themselves in an advantageous position when eventually applying for permanent residence (PR) in Canada. This is because PGWPs provide successful applicants with professional work experience. Generally, “a PGWP holder needs to gain one year of professional work experience in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code of 0, A, or B” to become eligible to apply for a PR program in Canada.
Therefore, having a PGWP is helpful during the evaluation of a PR application because several of Canada’s immigration programs look favourably upon PR applicants that have previously studied and/or worked in this country.
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