- What is a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?
- Eligibility requirements for the PGWP
- How to apply for a PGWP
- Required documents
- How long is a PGWP valid?
- What are the PGWP fees?
- How long does it take to obtain a PGWP?
- What to do if your PGWP is refused
- Get help with the PGWP
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Post Graduation Work Permit?
A Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is designed for international students who graduate from an eligible program of study at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI). A DLI is a school or university approved by a Canadian provincial or territorial government to host international students.
A Post Graduation Work Permit is an open work permit that allows you to work for any employer anywhere in Canada and for as many hours as you would like (full-time or part-time). You can also be self-employed.
A PGWP acts as a bridge to transition from temporary resident status to permanent residency through gaining valuable Canadian work experience under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) which is managed in the Express Entry system.
PGWPs are Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt. This means it is an easier and faster process for an employer to hire someone with a PGWP, since they do not need to meet the extensive requirements of an LMIA and go through the LMIA application process.
You can only get one PGWP in your lifetime. It is therefore advisable to be strategic in terms of when you apply for it, especially if you are going to be continuing further study or undertaking a longer study program. This is because applying after the longest period of study will mean your PGWP will have longer validity. The maximum validity for a PGWP is three years, whilst the shortest is eight months.
A PGWP’s validity cannot be longer than the applicant’s duration of study in Canada. In general, a PGWP will last for the same amount of time as the duration of the applicant’s study program.
Eligibility requirements for the PGWP
Below are the eligibility requirements for a foreign national to obtain a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP):
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must apply within 180 days of your study completing
- Have or had a valid study permit, or had the authorization to study without a study permit.
- If applying from within Canada, your study permit must have been valid at some point during the 180 days. If your study permit has expired you may apply for visitor status before applying for the PGWP.
- If applying from outside Canada you must have been approved for a study permit.
- The educational establishment must be an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI). It is important to note that not all DLIs offer programs that meet the PGWP requirements. A full list of DLIs that offer PGWP-eligible programs is available on the federal government website.
- The course duration must be at least eight months.
- Your program of study must be full-time. This doesn’t include your final semester which can be part-time, or if you took an approved leave from your studies.
- Your program of study leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
- Online or distance-learning courses are eligible only if less than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance-learning or online.
- The educational credentials must be gained in Canada – only a limited overseas component of studies is permitted.
- If you transfer between eligible DLIs this is acceptable if the combined length of study is at least 8 months. However note that intermittent studies are not eligible for a PGWP, so the study period must be continuous
- Provide confirmation from an eligible DLI confirming that you have met the requirements of the program.
- You must graduate from one of the following:
- A public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school, university, or 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, that leads to a Diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP—vocational studies diploma) or an Attestation de specialisation professionnelle (ASP—vocational Studies Accreditation);
An ASP can be less than 900 hours if combined with a DEP.
- A Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree), but only if you’re enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province.
How to apply for a PGWP
To apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit in most cases, you must apply online, although you can also opt to apply by mail. Applying online provides some advantages such as the processing time may be quicker, the application is received instantly, the ability to be sure your application is complete before you submit it, and faster submission of any further documents that may be requested. You will also receive updates on the status of your application directly in your online account.
In order to start your PGWP application online, you will need to create an IRCC secure account. To apply by mail, the application package for a PGWP can be obtained through the Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Services (IRCC) website.
You must apply for PGWP within 180 days of receiving confirmation from the DLI that you have completed all requirements of your program of study. This confirmation could be a degree, diploma, transcript, or official letter from your school.
In most cases, you need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) after you apply.
You have a valid status
You may apply for a PGWP from within Canada if your study permit is still valid, you have a valid visitor record or you are on implied status. Implied status here means you are awaiting a decision on extending or changing your status to visitor or student.
Study permit invalid / expired
Applicants whose study permit becomes invalid or expires must either leave Canada and apply for a PGWP from overseas, or apply to restore their status as a student and then apply for a PGWP. You must apply to restore your status as a student within 90 days after your study permit expires. If you don’t apply within 90 days, you must leave Canada.
If your study permit is going to expire before you get your marks, you can either apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada for longer or leave Canada and apply for your PGWP from overseas.
Note that if your passport expires before the PGWP’s validity period, you will need to apply for a work permit extension upon the renewal of your passport. This will allow you to receive the full validity of your PGWP. PGWPs can only be extended when the length of the permit could not be provided at the point of application, due to the expiry date of the applicant’s passport.
Before you can apply for a PGWP, you will need to ensure you have the following documents to submit with your application:
- Passport – copies of main pages
- Travel documents
- Current immigration document, if you have one
- Proof of completion of studies: a degree or diploma, an official letter from your school, or an official transcript
- Documents supporting any gap in your studies and showing if the gaps were officially approved or not
- Documents to show any part-time study (not including final term) and whether this was approved or not
- Documentation clarifying where two programs were combined, if applicable
- Documents to support any accelerated learning
- Documentation explaining why you exceeded the allowable hours of work, if applicable
In several of the above cases, a letter of explanation written by you should suffice, as long as it covers all requirements and is detailed enough to satisfy all IRCC concerns.
You may need to provide documentation following a medical exam if you are planning to work in the healthcare or childcare fields. If you are required to take a medical exam, this will be shown when you go through the ‘Find out if you are eligible’ section in your IRCC secure account.
Note that additional documentation may be requested depending on your individual situation and the visa office that processes your application.
How long is a PGWP valid?
The time a PGWP is valid for is directly related to the length of the study program completed:
- Program of study 8 months – your PGWP will be valid for 8 months also
- Program of study between 8 months and 3 years – the PGWP will most likely be valid for the same length as your study program, for example, if your study was for 2 years, the PGWP is likely to be valid for 2 years also
- More than one program of study – the times spent studying for each program can be combined, up to a maximum of 3 years
- Accelerated studies – if you complete your studies in less time than the normal length of the program, the PGWP should still be assessed on the length of the program of study. For example, if you complete a 2-year program of study in 18 months, you should still be eligible for a PGWP that has a 2-year validity
What are the PGWP fees?
When you submit your Post Graduation Work Permit application, you must ensure you pay the required fees, as follows:
- $255 CDN IRCC PGWP fee which consists of:
- $100 CDN – Open work permit holder fee
- $155 CDN – Standard work permit fee
- $85 CDN – IRCC biometrics fee, if applicable
How long does it take to obtain a PGWP?
The processing time for PGWP is approximately 2 to 3 months, depending on whether you are applying from within Canada, or from overseas.
While you wait for your PGWP, you are free to work in Canada so long as you apply before your student permit expires.
Once you have confirmation that your studies are complete, you will have 180 days to apply for a PGWP.
What to do if your PGWP is refused
If you receive a PGWP refusal, it is important to be sure of the reason why this happened and whether your eligibility for a PGWP remains intact, in which case you can look into how to remedy the issues and reapply.
We advise speaking with an immigration expert to receive lawyer representation when re-applying, in order to maximise your chances of successfully supplying all necessary information the IRCC needs to reconsider your PGWP application favourably.
After receiving a refusal, you will need to restore your status and provide adequate explanation to IRCC for the concerns raised in the refusal. The PGWP application must be re-submitted within 180 days from when the study permit expired.
A few common reasons a PGWP can be refused, include:
- You studied part-time at some point (excluding the last semester)
- You had a break in your studies due to failing a course, a teachers’ strike, changing schools or programs, extenuating personal circumstances, or for financial reasons, but the facts and reason for the break in studies was not presented clearly enough in your application
- More than 50% of your program of study was distance-learning
- Your study permit expired and you were out of immigration status when applying and did not include the $200 restoration fee
- You applied outside of the 90 day restoration period
- You did not include final transcripts confirming that the degree is conferred
- You studied at a non-eligible PGWP school
- You performed unauthorized work such as working more than 20 hours a week during school, working before school started or working while not enrolled in school
- IRCC made a mistake
If your application for a post-graduation work permit is rejected or refused, you are required to stop working as soon as you receive the rejection notification. If you carry on working, any future work or study permits could also be rejected, and you may be asked to leave the country.
Get help with the PGWP
Applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit can be confusing if you are not familiar with Canadian immigration processes.
At Total Law, we understand that there is a lot at stake when you’re making long-term plans about your future after your studies are complete. We are an immigration law firm that provides professional legal services for Canadian immigration matters. We have immigration specialists standing by to help you with your PGWP, study permit or Canadian residency application.
We offer a tailor-made service that includes the following:
- Expert review of your situation and immigration status in Canada
- Assessment of your eligibility for a PGWP
- Detailed support with all stages of the process
- Support with gathering all necessary documentation, and assistance with writing any supporting letters
- Liaison with IRCC on your behalf
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The PGWP is an open work permit. It allows you to work in any occupation anywhere in Canada, and change employers any time you wish. You can also undertake self-employment.
You can work full-time while waiting for a decision on your PGWP application if, at the time of applying, you:
• Had a valid study permit
• Had completed your program of study
• Were eligible to work off-campus without a permit, and
• Did not work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions
If your study permit has expired, you may be eligible to restore your status and apply, provided you apply within 90 days of it expiring.
If your PGWP is refused, you must stop working immediately.
Yes, you can. If your study permit has expired you must submit your PGWP application within 90 days of losing your status. Two fees are payable at this point: open work permit fee and standard work permit fee.
You do not need to make a separate application to restore your status as a student as long as you submit your fee receipt for restoring your status with your PGWP application.