Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announces work permit extension for PGWP holders

Kareem El-Assal
Published: March 17, 2023

Canada's Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has just announced those with an expiring Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) will be able to apply for an Open Work Permit extension as of April 6, 2023.

The Open Work Permit extension will be available to anyone whose PGWP expires in 2023. It will also be available to those whose PGWP expired in 2022 and applied for IRCC's Open Work Permit extension last year.

Beginning April 6, candidates will be able to apply for the extension on IRCC's website. Those that apply will get an email with an interim work permit authorization which they can show employers to continue working legally in Canada.

Those whose legal status in Canada has expired will also be able to apply at the same time to restore their status, even if their status expired outside of the 90 day grace period that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides. This means such individuals will be able to restore their status and get an interim Open Work Permit authorization at the same time, as early as April 6.

IRCC says it will send messages to those who are eligible for the extension to invite them to log into their online IRCC Secure Account starting on April 6.

Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP) are available to international students who graduate from an eligible educational program at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).

DLIs are colleges, universities, and other educational institutions approved by the government to welcome international students.

PGWPs enable international graduates to work for any employer of their choice in Canada for a maximum duration of three years (the length of a PGWP is determined by the length of the educational program completed by the international graduate).

PGWPs are highly coveted by international students due to the nature of Canada's economic class immigration programs.

Many of these programs rewards candidates who have studied and worked in Canada.

The rationale behind this is Statistics Canada research showing that such study and work experience can help to support the labour market integration of international students who go on to become Canadian permanent residents.

The combination of gaining a Canadian education, plus work experience, improving one's English or French skills, and developing social networks in Canada are all thought to contribute to the economic integration of these immigration candidates.

As such, certain pathways, such as the federal Express Entry system, offer more points to those with Canadian study and work experience.

In addition, there are provincial pathways, such as through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), available specifically to international graduates.

The majority of Canada's international students report an interest in applying for permanent residence.

Canada's receptiveness to global talent, including its increasing immigration levels are contributing to higher international student levels.

Canada was host to over 800,000 international students at the end of 2022, an all-time record.

PGWP holders easily account for the majority of temporary residents (TRs) who transition to permanent residence (PR).

In 2022, nearly 98,000 PGWP holders became permanent residents, which is about 82 per cent of all TRs who became PRs.

Canada is looking to welcome a record 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023, and this will rise to a target of 500,000 in 2025.

Canada does not have a target of TRs it seeks to transition to PR, but Minister Fraser has stated repeatedly his desire to facilitate such transitions.

One of Minister Fraser's priorities, as outlined in the mandate letter provided to him by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is to facilitate more TR to PR transitions via Express Entry.

Due to the strong demand for PGWP holders to become permanent residents, IRCC has made two exceptions in recent years, enabling those with expiring PGWPs to apply for Open Work Permit extensions.

The purpose of these exceptions has been to give these individuals more time to potentially obtain permanent residence.

The last exception was available to those whose PGWP expired between September 2021 and the end of December 2022.

IRCC notes there were more than 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada at the end of 2022. About 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023, however about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and will not need to extend their work permit through this initiative.

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