What is a Post Graduation Work Permit?
A Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) is a one-time opportunity for international graduates in Canada to stay and work in the country after their studies are completed. A PGWP is an open work permit. Here is what a PGWP will allow you to do:
- Work for any employer, in any occupation inside Canada.
- You don’t need a job offer to apply for PGWP.
- Your job does not need to be related to your degree.
- You can work full-time (or part-time) and there is no limit on the number of hours you can work.
- You can also be self-employed.
- You may change employers anytime you wish within the validity of the PGWP.
- You can work from the day you submit your PGWP application if you have a valid study permit (that permits off-campus work).
In order to be eligible for a PGWP, the learning institution where you studied must be an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI). A DLI is a university or school that is approved by the Canadian government to enroll international students.
A PGWP allows you to transition from temporary resident status to permanent residency (PR) by allowing you to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Many graduates with a PGWP apply for PR through a program such as the Canadian Experience Class, a program that is managed in the Express Entry points-based system.
The Post Graduation Work Permit is Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt, which means your employer will not need to go through the LMIA application thus making hiring you much easier. It also means they do not need to show they have tried to recruit a Canadian worker.
Only one PGWP is allowed per person in their lifetime. Therefore we advise planning the timing of your application carefully. For example, if you are undertaking studies of differing lengths it would make sense to apply for the PGWP after your longest period of study. This is because your PGWP will be valid for the longest time possible, as this work permit lasts the same amount of time as the duration of your study program.
A PGWP is can be valid for eight months minimum and three years maximum.
The eligibility requirements for a UK citizen or other foreign national to apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit are as follows:
- You must be 18 years of age or older
- You must submit your application within 180 days of completing your study program requirements
- If applying from within Canada, your study permit must have been valid at some point during the 180 days, or you have (or had) authorization to study without a study permit
- If applying from outside Canada you need to have been approved for a study permit
- The educational establishment you study at must be an eligible DLI
- Your study program must be at least eight months
- Your program of study must be full-time (except your final semester)
- Your program of study must lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate
- Online or distance-learning courses are only eligible if less than 50% of the course is by distance-learning or online
- The majority of learning must take place in Canada and only a limited overseas component of the studies is permitted
- You can transfer between eligible DLIs if your study is continuous and the combined study length is a minimum of 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 must apply within 180 days of receiving confirmation from the DLI that your program of study is complete.
How you can apply for a PGWP depends on where you’re applying from.
You can apply online by creating an IRCC secure account. You can also apply by mail. The application package for a PGWP can be requested through the IRCC website.
With a PGWP you need to be clear about your immigration status, which may determine where you must apply for the work permit. Here are some scenarios and the actions you may need to take in order to apply for a PGWP:
Your status is valid – if any of these are true 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 invalid or has expired – you have two options:
- Leave Canada and apply for the PGWP from overseas, or
- Apply to restore your student status and then apply for the PGWP
You must apply to restore your student status within 90 days from when your study permit expires. Note that if you miss this deadline then you must leave Canada.
Study permit expiring before you get your marks – you have two options:
- Apply for a visitor record to stay longer in Canada, or
- Leave Canada and apply for the PGWP from overseas
In the case of your passport expiring before your PGWP’s validity period, you can apply for a work permit extension when you renew your passport, which will then give you the full validity of your PGWP.
After submitting the application, most applicants will need to provide their biometrics (fingerprints and photo).
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 relating to any gaps in your studies showing if these were officially approved or not
- Documentation relating to any part-time study (not counting the final term) to show if this was approved or not
- Documentation to show the combining of two programs, if applicable
- Documentation relating to any accelerated learning, if applicable
- Documentation relating to reasons for exceeding the allowable hours of work, if applicable
- Medical exam documentation, if applicable
Note that additional documentation may be requested by the visa office that processes your application.
The validity of a PGWP is determined by the length of your program of study:
- A program of study of 8 months means the PGWP will also be valid for 8 months
- A program of study between 8 months and 3 years means the PGWP will most likely be valid for the same length of time as your study program
- Where more than one study program is undertaken, the total time for each program can be combined (up to a maximum of 3 years)
- For accelerated studies, the PGWP duration should be assessed on the original length of the program of study, not the accelerated timeframe
Note that a PGWP won’t be longer than the length of your study program.
If your passport expires before your PGWP your PGWP will be valid until your passport expires. You will in most cases be able to extend your PGWP validity to its maximum possible duration (which is determined by your study period) once you renew your passport.
The processing time of a PGWP application varies somewhat depending on whether you are applying from within Canada or overseas, but in general, it takes approximately 2 to 3 months to process a PGWP application.
Note that you must submit the PGWP application before your student permit expires. While waiting for a decision on your application, you can work in Canada.
When submitting a PGWP application the following fees are payable:
- $255 CDN – IRCC PGWP fee which consists of $100 CDN for the open work permit holder fee and $155 CDN for the standard work permit fee
- $85 CDN – Biometrics fee, if applicable
If your application for a PGWP is refused, the first thing you must do is to stop working as soon as you receive the refusal notification. If you carry on working, any future work or study permits might also be refused, and you may be asked to leave the country.
You will also need to restore your immigration status and provide a full explanation to IRCC for the concerns they have raised in the refusal.
You will have 180 days from the date when the study permit expired to resubmit the PGWP application.
Some of the more common reasons why a PGWP may be refused include:
- Your study period or part of it was part-time (not including the last semester)
- You did not provide sufficient reasons for why there was a gap in your studies
- Your school was not eligible for PGWP
- More than 50% of your study was distance-learning or online
- When applying your study permit had expired and your $200 restoration fee was not paid
- You submitted your application outside of the 90 day status restoration period
- You did not provide proof that your degree is conferred
- You carried out work without authorization during your studies
- IRCC made an error in processing your application
We advise speaking with an immigration expert for help with resubmitting your PGWP application so that your chances of being granted the permit can be maximised. Contact us now to speak to an immigration lawyer.
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.
At Total Law, we understand how much is at stake when thinking about your next steps after graduating in Canada. Our dedicated immigration lawyers team provides legal services for Canadian immigration applications. We pride ourselves in offering our clients a level of care and legal know-how that gives them the best chance to achieve their goals of coming to or staying in Canada.
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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.