In response to the impacts of the pandemic, Canada has launched a new program allowing certain recent international students to apply for an extra open work permit. The program is only available from January 27 to July 27, 2021.
Many international students choose to stay in Canada permanently after they complete their Canadian studies. To immigrate permanently, many international graduates apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), enabling them to gain the Canadian work experience needed to qualify for a permanent residence program. The pandemic has disrupted the employment of many of these international students, jeopardizing their ability to apply for permanent residence.
The new temporary immigration policy allows certain recent international students to apply for an extra open work permit to supplement their expired, or soon-to-expire, PGWP. These extra open work permits will be valid for up to 18 months, enabling these students to remain in Canada and work towards gaining the Canadian work experience necessary to qualify for permanent resident status.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) estimates that as many as 52,000 graduates with expired or expiring PGWPs could benefit from this public policy. The government announced this opportunity on January 8, 2021, as a “new policy to help former international students live in, work in and continue contributing to Canada.” The program officially opened to applicants on January 27, 2021.
Who is eligible for the extra open work permit for international students impacted by COVID-19?
In order to be eligible for the extra open work available under this new temporary policy, an applicant must:
- have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date they apply;
- have been in Canada when the policy took effect on January 27, 2021, and have remained in Canada since that date;
- have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status;
- apply between January 27 and July 27, 2021; and
- have a valid passport. Note that the open work permit will not be issued for a duration past the expiration of the applicant’s passport. In order to be granted a work permit for the full 18 months, applicants must ensure their passport is valid for at least 18 months from the date of approval.
As an example, an international student who graduated from a Canadian bachelor’s degree program in May, 2017, and was issued a three-year PGWP (expiring in May, 2020) could be eligible, as long as they are still in Canada and have temporary status (or are applying to restore their status).
As well, a person who graduated from a one-year diploma program in December, 2020, and was issued an eight-month PGWP (expiring in August, 2021) could be eligible, as long as they apply within four months of the expiry date of their PGWP. They would also need to be in Canada and have temporary status (or be applying to restore their status).
In both cases, the applicant would be eligible for an 18 month open work permit as long as their passports had at least 18 months of validity left on their date of approval.