Canada’s Post Graduate Work Permit – A Complete Guide
On completion of your study programme, almost all international students start applying for a work permit that allows them to stay back in Canada. This work permit provided to international students on completing an eligible study program is called a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).
A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows you to remain in Canada and work full time after you complete the prescribed study program. It can be a certificate, diploma or degree of 8 months or more. The application fee for the PGWP is CA$255 and the general processing time is 113 days.
How long is a post-graduation work permit valid?
Depending on the length of your study program, the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) can be 8 months to 3 years.
- If your program was at least 8 months, but less than 2 years, your PGWP will be of the same length as your study program. For example, if you completed a 9-month program, we may give you a work permit for up to 9 months.
- If your program was 2 years or more, you will get a PGWP that’s valid for 3 years.
- If you completed more than 1 program, you may be able to get a PGWP that combines the length of each program. Each of the programs you completed must be PGWP-eligible and at least 8 months in length.
Who can apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)?
To be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you need to graduate from a designated learning institution (DLI) in an eligible study program. All study programmes are not eligible for this work permit. Also, you can’t get a PGWP if you already had one after completing an earlier program of study. Your passport should be valid for the entire length of time you should be eligible. If your passport expires earlier:
- You get a PGWP that’s valid until your passport expires
- You’ll be notified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) if an extension is needed
When should you apply?
You can only apply once you’ve received your Letter of Completion, which confirms that you’ve fulfilled all of the program’s prerequisites. Your Letter of Completion will usually be available soon after you have completed your final programme obligation, such as earning your final grade or submitting your thesis. Contact the student support services of your college or university if you’re unsure when your Letter of Completion will be available or how to seek or obtain it. Your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after your Letter of Completion first becomes available, even if the expiry date on your study permit is several months later. You must submit your application for the PGWP within 180 days of your Letter of Completion first becoming available, inside or outside of Canada. Remember, to apply before your study permit expires. If you are unable to do so:
- Change your status to a visitor and apply for the PGWP from inside Canada through the visa office which serves your country of citizenship or
- Leave Canada and apply for the PGWP from outside of Canada
Within 90 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available
If your study permit expires before your Letter of Completion becomes available, or during the first 90 days after your letter becomes available, but you won’t have enough time to apply for your PGWP before it expires, ask for a 90-day bridging period extension. Apply as soon as possible, preferably four months before your study permit expires. Include a letter explaining why you’re extending your study permit in order to apply for the PGWP. One of the conditions for being qualified to work full-time after completing your PGWP application online is having a valid study permit at the time of application.
Within 180 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available
You must apply for the PGWP within 180 days of receiving your Letter of Completion, whether you are in or outside of Canada. Your study permit must have been valid for at least 180 days prior to applying for a work permit after receiving your Letter of Completion.
Contact your college or university’s student support center or a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) for assistance if you haven’t submitted an immigration application or if you didn’t leave Canada before your study permit expired.
Can you work while you apply for the PGWP?
You are no longer eligible to work once your Letter of Completion is available, and you must stop working immediately. If you apply while you are on ‘maintained status’ (formerly ‘implied status’) for your study permit extension, you will not be able to work in Canada until you receive a valid PGWP. If at the moment you submit your PGWP application online, you meet the following criteria, you may immediately begin working full-time while your application is being processed:
- You have a valid study permit and applied within the first 90 days after your Letter of Completion became available, and
- You have completed your programme of study, and
- You were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit during your studies, and
- You did not work off-campus for more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions.
Will you be eligible for a PGWP if you have completed your program online?
You can complete up to 100% of your studies online from outside Canada and still be eligible for the PGWP if you studied between March 2020 and August 31, 2022. You also need to meet all PGWP eligibility requirements as detailed above. If you’re completing two study programmes, you can complete 100% of them online if the programs were ongoing or started between March 2020 and summer 2022, and:
- Both study programmes are with an approved DLI and are completed within two years, and
- Each program meets all PGWP eligibility standards and is at least eight months long.
Gaining valuable Canadian work experience improves your chances of permanent residency in Canada. The following are the immigration programs available for those who have Canadian work experience:
- Canadian Experience Class
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
- Provincial Nominee Programs
- Quebec Immigration Options