A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is for international students who complete an eligible Canadian post-secondary program.
The Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an open work permit, meaning it allows the student to work for any employer of their choice in Canada and to work for any Canadian employer without needing a job offer. It allows international student graduates to work anywhere in Canada for up to three years.
A major benefit of the PGWP is that it provides international graduates with professional work experience in Canada, which is helpful when PGWP holders go on to apply for Canadian immigration. In general, a PGWP holder needs to gain one year of professional work experience in a National Occupation Classification (NOC) code of 0, A, or B to then be eligible to apply for a Canadian permanent residence program.
What are the PGWP’s eligibility requirements?
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 Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
- Completed a study program that led to a degree, diploma, or certificate
- Held full-time student status in Canada during every academic session of the program of study and included as part of their post-graduation work permit application
- Obtained a transcript and an official letter from the DLI confirming the applicant has met all requirements to complete their program of study
The student must also have graduated from:
- a public post-secondary institution, such as
- a college
- a trade or technical school
- a university
- CEGEP (in Quebec)
- a private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec;
- a 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); (Note: this will no longer be in effect starting September 2023) or;
Canadian private schools 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 authorized by the province.
How long is a PGWP valid?
A PGWP will be valid for between eight months and three years, depending on the length of the student’s study program. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) provides the following guidelines on its website:
- Completed program under eight months: Not eligible for a PGWP
- Completed program between eight months and less than two years: The PGWP will be valid for the same length of your study program (e.g., a 10-month program will result in a 10-month PGWP)
- Completed program of two years or more: PGWP will be valid for three years
- Completed more than one program: You may be able to combine your Canadian educational programs to get a PGWP as long as the programs are DLI eligible and each over eight months in duration. The total length of the PGWP will correspond to the durations above.
A student must apply for the PGWP within 180 days, or six months, from the time they receive a transcript and official letter from the DLI confirming they have met all the requirements to complete the study program.
Studying overseas and eligibility for a PGWP
IRCC set in place a new policy during the coronavirus pandemic that allows students to complete their Canadian study program while living abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP when they move to Canada. In order to be eligible for this policy, the student must:
- Be enrolled at a DLI
- Have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022, or the program was already in progress by March 2020.
- Have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or apply for a study permit prior to starting your program and are eventually approved
- Meet all other PGWP criteria
Permanent Residency for International Residents
Under Express Entry, the Canadian government uses the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to evaluate each candidate based on their human capital. Canada looks at age, education, language skills, and work experience, among other criteria. Usually every two weeks, the Canadian government holds Express Entry draws providing permanent residence invitations to those with the highest CRS scores. Extra points are given to candidates with Canadian education and work experience under Express Entry.
Many international students obtain permanent residence status through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). With a PGWP, students must go on to obtain at least 1,560 hours of Canadian work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B job in order to apply for permanent residency through CEC. Many Provincial Nominee Programs also cater to international graduates.
If you have studied in Quebec and would like to settle in the province permanently, a student may also be eligible for immigration under the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ). The PEQ provides a fast-track way for international students and individuals with work experience in Quebec to get a Quebec selection certificate, which is a mandatory step toward permanent residency that is granted by the federal government.
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