How those with an expiring PGWP can apply for an Open Work Permit

Kareem El-Assal
Published: April 6, 2023

Starting April 6, 2023, some current and former Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit.

More information can be found on IRCC's website.

The application window will be open until December 31, 2023.

The benefit of obtaining this Open Work Permit is eligible individuals will be able to work in any occupation and for any employer of their choice in Canada for up to 18 additional months.

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IRCC's website notes that eligible candidates will be able to:

  • opt into a simplified process to extend their work permit, or
  • apply to extend their work permit, or
  • apply to restore their status and get a new work permit

Even if a candidate is not eligible to opt in, they can still apply for a work permit.

What to do if you are eligible for the simplified extension

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has recently sent emails to those who may be eligible for the simplified process to extend their work permit.

Messages are arriving from an email address that ends in @cic.gc.ca or @notifications.canada.ca.

IRCC notes that such individuals must take action before May 20, 2023 and apply before their work permit expires.

To be eligible for the simplified process, you must:

1) Reside in Canada

2) Log into your IRCC Secure Account to:

  • ensure that your mailing address is up to date
  • confirm your passport information is up to date and has an expiration date of June 2025 or later, and
  • opt in for up to an additional 18 months

If you do not have an account, you will need to register for an IRCC Secure Account and link your most recent PGWP application to your account before May 20, 2023.

About this Open Work Permit extension

In March, Canada's Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced IRCC would enable eligible former and current PGWP holders to access a new Open Work Permit.

Usually, a PGWP is non-renewable, and those with an expiring PGWP either need to find another way to remain in Canada or leave the country altogether.

However, Fraser said the purpose of this special public policy is to help employers across Canada address their historic labour shortages and to provide PGWP holders with more time to potentially transition to permanent residence.

PGWPs allow eligible international graduates to work for up to three years after they complete their studies in Canada.

The ultimate length of a PGWP depends on the length of the program completed by the international graduate.

PGWPs are popular since they allow international graduates to strengthen their eligibility for Canadian permanent residence.

Many of Canada's economic class immigration programs reward candidates who have Canadian work experience since Statistics Canada research shows such experience helps support labour market integration upon gaining permanent residence.

This explains why the likes of Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and other economic class pathways offer more points and/or dedicated streams to those with Canadian experience.

Last year, Canada hosted an all-time record 800,000 international students.

Almost 98,000 PGWP holders transitioned to permanent residence in 2022, accounting for nearly 82 per cent of all temporary residents who transitioned to permanent residence.

When announcing this special policy measure last month, IRCC noted there were over 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada at the end of last year.

The department estimates some 127,000 PGWPs will expire in 2023, however about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence, and hence, will not need to apply for a new Open Work Permit through this special policy measure.

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