Can I extend or renew my Post-Graduation Work Permit? 

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: December 1, 2023

Although most Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders will be ineligible to apply for a permit extension, this article will detail if you may be eligible for an extension and the options available if you are not eligible.

A PGWP is a work permit available to international students who complete an eligible program while attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. This permit allows the holder to work for almost any employer of their choice in Canada, and the experience gained through working on this permit can be used to assist the holder if/when they decide to apply for permanent residence (PR).

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More: Learn more about the PGWP, including eligibility criteria and required documents, here

How long is a PGWP valid?

One of the most important aspects of a PGWP is that the permit’s validity period depends on the length of the academic program completed by the applicant. Specifically, to be eligible for a PGWP, the completed program must be at least eight months long. From there, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides the following guidelines pertaining to PGWP validity:

  • For completed programs of eight months to two years, successful PGWP applicants will receive a permit valid for the same length as their program. As an example, an international student who completes a program of twelve months will receive a permit valid for twelve months.
  • For completed programs of two years or more, the resulting PGWP will be valid for three years, which is the maximum validity period of any PGWP.
  • International students who complete more than one eligible program at a DLI may be able to combine their program lengths to extend the validity of their resulting PGWP. In this case, each program still needs to be more than eight months long.

As their PGWP validity nears its end, many international students are left wondering what their next steps are. This is particularly true for PGWP holders with less than one year of work experience in Canada, who often seek more experience to become eligible for PR.

Who can extend their PGWP?

There are two groups of permit holders that are currently eligible for an extension on their PGWP.

PGWP holders with an expiring passport

PGWP extensions are available for permit holders who meet the eligibility criteria but did not receive the full-length permit because their passport was going to expire.

In this case, PGWP holders can apply to extend their PGWP and should include this information in a letter of explanation when they submit their application to extend.

Temporary PGWP extension policy

Effective as of April 6 this year, PGWP holders whose work permit expired or will expire in 2023 – as well as those whose permit expired between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022 – became eligible for a permit extension of up to 18 months because of a temporary policy put in place by IRCC.

Through this policy, “eligible PGWP holders and former PGWP holders, including those who have valid temporary resident status”, are able to apply for an open work permit from within Canada*.

*IRCC notes that extension applicants residing outside of Canada at this time must apply for a regular work permit and make IRCC aware that they are applying under this temporary policy

Note: The permit extension “will be valid for up to 18 months or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first”, according to IRCC

Visit this dedicated webpage for more information on this temporary policy from IRCC, including eligibility criteria and information about working while awaiting a decision on your application to extend.

What are my options if I cannot extend/renew my PGWP?

For PGWP holders who are ineligible for a permit extension, IRCC provides several options for those looking to extend their stay in Canada. Two of these options include:

Visitor Visa

A Visitor Visa (also referred to as a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)) allows the holder to gain admission into Canada as a visitor for six months. This type of visa may be issued in a single-entry or multi-entry format.

Click here to learn more about visitor visas.

Visitor Record

A Visitor Record can be applied for by eligible individuals who want to extend their stay in Canada as a visitor. It is important to note that visitor record applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to the expiry of a foreign national’s current status in Canada such as the expiration date of a PGWP.

To learn more about visitor records, visit this Government of Canada webpage.

Bridging Open Work Permit

A Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) can be obtained as a means of staying in Canada while a foreign national awaits the decision on their PR application from IRCC. This means that, to be eligible for a BOWP, PGWP holders must have applied to become a permanent resident of Canada.

Full BOWP eligibility criteria, as well as other key information about this open work permit, can be found here.

Other Work Permit Options

PGWP holders who are ineligible for an extension may also pursue a variety of their work permit options, presuming that they meet the eligibility criteria for that particular permit.

Click this link to learn more about open work permits in Canada. This resource can also provide more guidance and direction regarding work permit options that are exempt from requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

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