The 4 different ways international students in Canada can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: February 12, 2023

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program provides international students in Canada with a way to remain in the country after they graduate from a post-secondary educational program and start building a life and career here.

This program provides an open work permit for up to three years, which enables any graduate from a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) to work for a Canadian employer of their choice without an existing job offer at the time of application.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

Note: 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.

General PGWP application process

The process of applying for a PGWP can begin the very same day that a prospective applicant receives their official transcript and letter confirming program completion.

From this day, all international students who seek a PGWP have six months (180 days) to submit their application.

Much of the applicant’s initial responsibilities in this application process surround simply gathering the following documents identified on the Canadian government’s website, which must be included in the application itself:

  • A degree or diploma
  • An official letter from your school
  • An official transcript, or a copy of your transcript from your school’s website

Note: IRCC may request additional documents when an application is received

Once this step is complete, application steps and methods will vary based on whether the PGWP hopeful is applying from within or outside of Canada. Most applicants will be required to apply online, but paper applications will be made available in certain circumstances.

Applying for the PGWP from within Canada – online application

In all but two circumstances, all PGWP hopefuls within Canada will be required to apply online.

The five steps involved in this process are as follows.

Step 1: Prepare Required Items for Application

Applicants will need a valid credit or debit card and a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of application documents.

Step 2: Read Instruction Guide Before Starting Application

Step 3: Prepare Answers for Online Tool

The online tool provided prior to the submission of application forms will provide applicants with a personalized list of exactly which documents they will be required to submit with their application.

Step 4: Understand Applicable Application Fees

Fees associated with the PGWP program can include any combination of the following:

  • Processing fees
  • An open work permit holder fee
  • A work permit fee
  • A biometrics fee (exempt as of the time of writing, the exemption will be lifted at some point)

Step 5: Sign-In or Create Online Account

An account with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is required to pay application fees, submit an application, and check the status of an application.

Applying for the PGWP from within Canada – paper application

A paper application can be requested for the PGWP program if:

  • An applicant has a disability that makes it difficult for them to use the online application system
  • If there is an issue with the online application system

The four steps involved in this process are as follows.

Step 1: Get the Application Package

The application package can be found online through the Canadian government website. Application fees are non-refundable, so it is important that applicants verify their own eligibility and read all instructions prior to starting the application.

Step 2: Complete Application and Attach Required Documents

Applicants must ensure that all requested documents (and all pages of every document) are complete and included in their application, as mistakes here can cause processing delays.

Step 3: Pay Application Fees

Fees associated with the PGWP program can include any combination of the following:

  • Processing fees
  • An open work permit holder fee
  • A work permit fee
  • A biometrics fee (exempt as of the time of writing, the exemption will be lifted at some point)
  • Third-party fees for medical exams and/or police certificates

Note (1): Third-party fees must be paid directly to the applicable third party

Note (2): The instruction guide included with an application will tell applicants which fees apply to them and how to pay the applicable fees

Step 4: Submit Application

Completed applications must be submitted at the address identified in the application package. It is important to remember to submit the application with all necessary documents and a receipt confirming the payment of all applicable application fees.

Applying for the PGWP from outside Canada – online application

The five steps involved in this process are as follows.

Step 1: Prepare Required Items for Application

Applicants will need a valid credit or debit card and a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of application documents.

Step 2: Read Instruction Guide Before Starting Application

Step 3: Prepare Answers for Online Tool

The online tool provided prior to the submission of application forms will provide applicants with a personalized list of exactly which documents they will be required to submit with their application.

Step 4: Understand Applicable Application Fees

Fees associated with the PGWP program can include any combination of the following:

  • Processing fees
  • An open work permit holder fee
  • A work permit fee
  • A biometrics fee
  • Third-party fees for medical exams, police certificates and/or Visa application centre service fees (if an applicant uses one)

Note (1): Third-party fees must be paid directly to the applicable third party

Note (2): The instruction guide included with an application will tell applicants which fees apply to them and how to pay the applicable fees

Step 5: Sign-In or Create Online Account

An account with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is required to pay application fees, submit an application, and check the status of an application.

Applying for the PGWP from outside Canada – paper application

The four steps involved in this process are as follows.

Step 1: Get the Application Package

The application package can be found online through the Canadian government website. Application fees are non-refundable, so it is important that applicants verify their own eligibility and read all instructions prior to starting the application.

Step 2: Complete Application and Attach Required Documents

Applicants must ensure that all requested documents are complete and included in their application, as mistakes here can cause processing delays.

Step 3: Pay Application Fees

Fees associated with the PGWP program can include any combination of the following:

  • Processing fees
  • An open work permit holder fee
  • A work permit fee
  • A biometrics fee
  • Third-party fees for medical exams, police certificates, language testing and/or Visa application centre service fees (if an applicant uses one)

Note (1): Third-party fees must be paid directly to the applicable third party

Note (2): The instruction guide included with an application will tell applicants which fees apply to them and how to pay the applicable fees

Step 4: Submit Application

Completed applications must be submitted at the address identified in the application package. It is important to remember to submit the application with all necessary documents and a receipt confirming the payment of all applicable application fees.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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