IRCC extends transition period for distance learning measures to December 2023

Edana Robitaille, Julia Hornstein
Published: September 2, 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced they are extending distance learning measures that were implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who completed less than 50% of their PGWP-eligible studies outside of Canada will be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) until December 31, 2023.

Before the pandemic, all international students needed to complete no more than 50% of their studies online, and time spent studying online outside of Canada was not counted toward PGWP eligibility.

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Due to the inability to travel throughout the pandemic, IRCC removed the online study restriction for those students who

  • Were enrolled in PGWP-eligible programs in progress in March 2020
  • Began PGWP-eligible programs between March 2020 and August 31, 2022

This means anyone who began their studies overseas prior to August 31, 2022, can use 100% of that time towards their PGWP eligibility. Students who started or will start a program between September 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023, must complete at least 50% of their program (or programs) of study in Canada. For these students, up until December 31, 2023, time spent studying outside of Canada will be counted toward the overall length of the PGWP only if it comprises under 50% of the program.

The measure and current extension does not apply for students studying abroad after September 1, 2023, regardless of when they began their studies. It also does not apply to students who enrolled in programs after August 31, 2022.

What is a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

A PGWP is an open work permit for international students who want to remain in Canada to live and work after they complete their program of study.

Because it is an open work permit, PGWP holders are able to work for almost any employer in Canada. The length of the PGWP depends on the length of the program of study and they can last as long as three years.

IRCC’s update notes that if a student spent time studying at a designated learning institution (DLI) while outside of Canada, that time begins to count toward the length of the PGWP only after the department receives the study permit application.

To be eligible, students must have:

  • Completed studies in an academic, vocational or professional training program at a DLI that was at least eight months in length.
  • Received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study, which will be included in the PGWP application,

Those who stay in Canada on a PGWP after their studies can use any work experience gained towards getting permanent resident status, as many federal and provincial immigration programs value candidates with Canadian education and work experience.

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