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Remaining in Canada after receiving a PGWP

One of the options available to overseas students who want to stay in Canada and start establishing a life here is to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

When international students travel from their home countries to study at a Canadian-designated learning institution (DLI), they bring a bright, unique, and fresh viewpoint to the academic environment in Canada.

Canada takes great satisfaction in being a top choice for overseas students wishing to advance their educations and lifestyles.

Beyond their formal education, the majority of overseas students have shown a wish to remain in Canada after graduation, which is another source of pride for the country. In reality, a study conducted in 2022 by the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE) found that “59.4% of respondents” intended to settle permanently in Canada following graduation.

For international students, Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program is a step in the right direction. Through this program, qualified DLI graduates can work for any Canadian employer of their choice without having a job offer at the time of application for a maximum three-year open work permit. The length of a permit will depend on the length of the educational program the applicant graduated from, even though this scheme provides for permits to last up to three years.

PGWP eligibility requirements

In order to be eligible for the PGWP, an applicant must:

  • completed a least eight-month academic, professional, or vocational training program at an accredited DLI that results in a degree, diploma, or certificate.

  • received a transcript and a formal document certifying they’ve completed their program’s requirements.

  • every academic session of the program or programs of study they finished and listed in their post-graduation work visa application, maintaining full-time student status in Canada (note below)

  • graduated from a public post-secondary institution, such as a university, college, trade, or technical school, CEGEP (in Quebec), or a private post-secondary institution that follows the same regulations as public schools in Quebec. graduated from a private secondary or post-secondary institution (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 professionnel (but only if the student was enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province)

Note for Quebec: Depending on the type of diploma awarded, graduates of vocational and professional training programs in Quebec must also satisfy extra PGWP requirements set forth by IRCC.

Those who have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022, graduates whose program was already underway in March 2020, or international students who took a leave of absence from their studies in their final academic session may be exempt from the “full-time student status” requirement.

Online education and PGWP eligibility

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, distance learning students at a DLI may still be qualified for a PGWP. There are many date-specific exclusions to the standard eligibility requirements outlined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada provided that all other conditions are satisfied (IRCC). These are what they are:

Prior to August 31st, 2022, international students can finish all of their coursework online and still be eligible for the PGWP by enrolling in courses from another country or submitting a study permit application.

Starting on September 1st, 2023, all study abroad time “shall be subtracted from the length of the international student’s PGWP regardless of when the international student’s studies were initiated”

Application for PGWP

All PGWP candidates have six months (180 days) from the day they receive their official transcript and letter attesting to program completion to submit their application.

Once you have the required paperwork, which must be submitted with your application, the process is rather straightforward.

The website of the Canadian government lists the following documents as being a large portion of the applicant’s essential duties:

  • a diploma or degree

  • a formal letter from your institution

  • a copy of your transcript from your school’s website, or an official transcript

Note: When an application is received, IRCC may require more documentation.

After completing this stage, applicants can move on to submit their PGWP application, either online or on paper, as needed. Depending on whether the PGWP candidate is applying from inside or outside of Canada, the application process will differ.

Note that applicants must demonstrate that they either have a current, valid study permit, have held one in the past, or have been granted permission to study in Canada without one. If a candidate’s present study permit is about to expire, they can either leave Canada and apply for a PGWP from overseas or apply for a visiting record to stay in Canada longer.

Important details about the PGWP

  • International graduates must submit two important papers with their application to the PGWP program: a letter and an official transcript attesting to the completion of a course at a DLI.

  • The duration of the applicant’s educational program determines the PWGP’s validity period. As per IRCC recommendations:

If the entire program was run:

  • Application is ineligible for a PGWP if it has been less than eight months.

  • The duration of the program will match the validity of the applicant’s PGWP if it is more than eight months but less than two years (a 16-month program equals a 16-month PGWP)

  • two years or more: The applicant’s PGWP will be valid for three years.

Additionally, if a candidate has finished more than one program (minimum eight-month program), they could be able to combine the PGWPs they have earned.

How a PGWP might quicken the process of obtaining permanent residency

Holders of PGWPs position themselves favorably for prospective applications for permanent residency (PR) in Canada. This is so that qualified candidates can gain professional work experience through PGWPs. To be qualified to apply for a PR program in Canada, “a PGWP holder needs to obtain one year of professional work experience in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code of 0, A, or B.”

Because several of Canada’s immigration systems favor PR applicants who have previously studied and/or worked here, obtaining a PGWP is useful when a PR application is evaluated.

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