Master’s students are now eligible for a 3-year work permit

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: February 15, 2024

Starting today, international students studying in master's programs that are less than two years in length, are eligible for a three-year post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

Before today, the length of an issued PGWP was correlated with the length of a program of study. However, in recognition that master’s students are placed to perform well in Canada’s labour market, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has chosen to expand the eligibility for these students to receive longer work permits.

The length of issued PGWPs for students in programs of study other than at the master’s level will continue to correspond with the length of study program, to a maximum of three years.

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Students in programs at PGWP-eligible designated learning institutions (DLIs)—the only schools in Canada authorised to accept international students—that are at least two years in length are also eligible for a longer, three-year PGWP.

In the weeks ahead, IRCC will also amend rules for spousal work permits for international students at an undergraduate level. This means only spouses of students at the master’s and doctoral level will be eligible to receive a spousal work permit. This change will not have any impact on spousal open work permits for the spouses or conjugal partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

What are the PGWP eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for a PGWP, international students must:

  • Have completed studies in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least eight months long, at an eligible DLI;
  • Have studied in a program that led to a degree, diploma or certificate;
  • Held full-time student status in Canada during every academic session of the program or programs of study completed, which should be indicated on the PGWP application (with certain exceptions allowed);
  • Have received a transcript and an official letter from an eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study (both of which must be included in the PGWP application);
  • Have graduated from a public post-secondary institution such as a:
    • College;
    • Trade or technical school;
    • University;
    • CEGEP (in Quebec);
    • Private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec;
    • Private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer and results in the issuance of a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP); or
    • Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree) but only if the student was enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorised by the province.

Any of these educational institutions must be a DLI.

Note: As of September 2024, students attending a program that utilises a curriculum licensing framework (where a private college has been licensed to deliver the curriculum of an associated public college) will no longer be eligible to apply for a PGWP.

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