Overview of Canadian Post Graduation Work Permit
The number of people of Irish ancestry living in Canada who claim full or partial Irish ancestry makes up 13% of Canada’s population. This results in a thriving Irish Canadian community in many cities and provinces.
A goal that many Irish students have when coming to Canada to study is to continue their stay in Canada after their studies. If you are graduating from a university in Canada and wish to find a pathway to permanent residence than the Post-Graduation Work Permit could offer you a means to achieve your aims.
The Post-Graduation Work Permit allows Irish graduates (and other international graduates) who have finished their studies at a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to stay in Canada and work. It’s a one-time opportunity that allows graduates to gain valuable Canadian work experience which could support your application to become a permanent resident of Canada.
A PGWP is an open work permit which means you can work for any employer, in any occupation anywhere in Canada. You don’t need a job offer to apply for PGWP, and the job you undertake do not need to be related to your degree. You are allowed to work full-time (or part-time) and the number of hours you work is not limited. You can change employers anytime within the duration of the PGWP. If you wish, you can also be self-employed.
One of the main attractions of a PGWP is that it allows you to transition from temporary resident status to permanent residency (PR) through the vital acquiring of Canadian work experience. Many PGWP holders apply for PR through Express Entry programs such as the Canadian Experience Class, which is a direct pathway to PR.
Another advantage of the Post Graduation Work Permit is that it exempts employers from needing to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This makes the process easier and faster for both the employer and the applicant as the employer does not have to advertise for a Canadian worker.
To apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit you must be at least 18 years old and have been a full-time student on a continuous basis (not counting the final semester.) Here is a summary of the other PGWP requirements:
- You must have finished a program of study of at least 8 months or longer
- You must be able to show an official document from your learning institution confirming your study program is complete
- The application must be submitted within 180 days of completing your study program
- If applying from within Canada, either your study permit must have been valid at some point during the 180 days, or you were authorized to study without a study permit
- If applying from outside Canada, you must have been approved for a study permit
- The educational establishment you studied at must have been an eligible DLI (A DLI is a learning institution approved by a Canadian provincial or territorial government to host international students)
- Your program of study must lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate
- Online or distance-learning courses are eligible if less than 50% of the study program is by distance-learning or online
- Only a limited overseas element is permitted – the majority of learning must take place within Canada
- Transferring between DLIs is permitted if your study was continuous and the combined study length is at least 8 months
- Graduation must be 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 spécialisation 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
You can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) from inside Canada or from overseas, as long as you meet the requirements. You will have 180 days to apply from the point of receiving your degree, diploma, transcript, or official letter from the DLI where you studied confirming your studies are complete.
You can apply online through the IRCC website by creating an account. Alternatively, you can apply by mail. To do this, you can request an application package through the IRCC website.
After submitting your application, it is usual to be asked to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photo). You will be informed about the process for doing this by IRCC.
In terms of when you are allowed to start work, you may work from the day you submit your PGWP application, so long as your study permit is valid and allows you to work off-campus.
When it comes to a PGWP you need to be clear about your immigration status, as this may affect where you must apply for it. Consider these scenarios and if they apply to you:
Your immigration status is valid
If any of the below apply to you then you can apply from within Canada:
- Your study permit is still valid
- You have a valid visitor record, or:
- You are on implied status – i.e. you are waiting for a decision on changing or extending your status to student or visitor
Your study permit is not valid or it has expired
In this case, you have two options:
- You can leave Canada and apply for the PGWP from another country, or:
- You can apply to restore your student status and then apply for the PGWP. In this case, you have to apply to restore your student status within 90 days from your study permit expiry date. It’s important to note that if you miss this deadline then you must leave Canada.
Your study permit expires before you get your marks
Here, you have two options:
- You can apply for a visitor record to stay longer in Canada, or:
- You can leave Canada and apply for the PGWP from another country.
When applying for a Post Graduation Work Permit, a number of supporting documents need to be submitted, as follows:
- Travel documents
- Current immigration document, if applicable
- A degree or diploma, an official letter from your school, or a transcript to show proof that you have completed your program of study
- Documentation showing if any part-time study (not counting the final term) was approved or not
- Documentation showing that you were allowed to exceed the allowable hours of work, if applicable
- Documentation showing if any gaps in your studies were officially approved or not
- Documentation showing if two study programs were combined, if applicable
- Medical exam documentation, if applicable
Bear in mind that you may be asked to provide additional documentation by the visa office that processes your application.
How long a PGWP is valid for is determined by how long your program of study is, as follows:
- A program of study lasting 8 months – the PGWP will be valid for 8 months
- A program of study between 8 months and 3 years – in most cases the validity of the PGWP will match the length of your study program.
- If more than one study program is undertaken, the PGWP will be valid for the combined time of the study programs, up to a maximum of 3 years.
- If your studies were accelerated – in most cases the PGWP will be valid for the original length of the program of study (not the shorter timeframe).
A PGWP will not have a validity that is longer than the length of your study program.
Note that if your passport expires before your PGWP, your PGWP will only be valid until your passport expires, even if this is not the full validity that it would have if your passport was not expiring. In most cases, you can extend your PGWP to its full possible duration (per your study duration) once your passport is renewed.
In a lifetime, only one PGWP is allowed per person, and since a PGWP is valid for the same amount of time as your study duration, it makes sense to plan the timing of your application carefully. In the event that you are planning study periods of differing lengths, it would be wise to apply for the PGWP after your longest period of study.
A PGWP can be valid for eight months minimum and three years maximum.
In general, a PGWP application can take approximately 2 to 3 months to process, although this can vary depending on whether you are applying from within Canada or overseas.
Bear in mind that you must submit the PGWP application before your student permit expires.
Whilst you wait to be informed of the outcome of your application, you may work in Canada.
When applying for a PGWP you will need to pay $255 CDN for the IRCC which is made up of $100 CDN for the open work permit holder fee plus $155 CDN for the standard work permit fee.
If you are asked to provide biometrics, an additional fee of $85 CDN will be payable.
Reasons for a PGWP refusal
There are many reasons a PGWP application could be refused.
The first thing to be aware of, however, after a refusal, is that you must stop working as soon as you receive the refusal notification. If you do carry on working you would risk having future work or study permits refused, and you may even be required to leave the country.
To respond to a PGWP refusal, you will need to give a full explanation to IRCC for the issues they have raised in the refusal. You will also need to restore your immigration status.
You must resubmit the PGWP application within 180 days from the expiry date of your study permit.
The more common reasons for a PGWP to be refused are as follows;
- When you applied for the PGWP your study permit had expired and you did not pay the $200 restoration fee
- Your application was submitted outside of the 90 day status restoration period
- There was no proof that your degree is conferred
- You undertook work without authorization during your studies
- You studied part-time, or part of your study period was part-time (not counting the last semester)
- You did not provide adequate reasons for there being a gap in your studies
- You studied at a school that was not eligible for PGWP
- More than 50% of your study was distance-learning or online
- IRCC made an error in dealing with your application
If you have been refused a PGWP, get in touch with Total Law to obtain professional help and advice, so that you can resubmit your PGWP application with confidence.
Applying for a PGWP involves many factors that need to be considered and requirements to be met, plus supporting documentation to be compiled ready for submission. If you are not familiar with Canadian immigration programs this can be a daunting task which may even lead to poorly prepared applications.
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Yes, the PGWP is an open work permit which allows you to work for any employer, in any occupation anywhere in Canada. You can also be self-employed if you wish.
Yes, you can but you must do this within 90 days of your permit expiring.
The open work permit fee and the standard work permit fee will be payable.
If your passport expires before your PGWP’s expires, you can apply for an extension to your work permit when you renew your passport. This will then give you the full validity of your PGWP.