In response to COVID-19, Canada has implemented special measures impacting international students. Learn more.
The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is a pillar of Canada’s immigration system, allowing international students who graduate from universities and colleges in Canada to work in Canada for up to three years upon graduation. The post-graduation work permit also helps graduates transition to permanent resident status in Canada.
The PGWP is an open work permit, allowing its holder to work for any employer in any location in Canada, and to change employers freely.
COVID-19 and special measures for Post-Graduation Work Permits
Canada launches new work permit program for international students impacted by COVID-19: On January 8, 2021, Canada launched a new temporary immigration program enabling certain recent international graduates to apply for an extra open work permit (Source: IRCC). Read our full reporting on this update.
If you are applying for a study permit or continuing Canadian studies during the COVID-19 health crisis, there are special measures in effect that may help you study from outside Canada while travel restrictions are in place:
COVID-19 special measures for study permit applicants
Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility
On February 12, 2021, Canada announced a further reduction of eligibility requirements for Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs), as international students continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rules allow “international students to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP.” These loosened requirements apply to “all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.”
Study Permit Eligibility & Application Process
The Canadian government is introducing special measures to help approved international students and study permit applicants who are hoping to begin Canadian studies in the fall (Source: IRCC). Many international students will be able to begin or continue their Canadian studies while living outside Canada through distance learning. The new measures include:
- Giving priority study-permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online; and
- Implementing a temporary two-stage approval process to reassure international students who cannot submit all required documents for their study permit applications and who choose to pursue Canadian programs through distance learning.
The temporary two-stage approval process will allow study permit applicants to count time spent studying online abroad towards their PGWP as long as they’ve received an approval-in-principle, as long as eventually they are able to satisfy all requirements and receive a full approval of their study permit. This should provide hope to some study permit applicants who were hoping to begin studies in the fall, but were unable to obtain all required documents for their study permit due to COVID-19.
Here’s how applying for a PGWP works:
To obtain a post-graduation work permit, you must currently hold valid temporary status or have left Canada. You must have graduated from an eligible designated learning institution (DLI). You must also submit clear evidence that you meet all of the following criteria:
- You have completed an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible institution in Canada that is at least 8 months in duration leading to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- You have maintained full-time student status in Canada* during each academic session of the program or programs of study they have completed and submitted as part of their post-graduation work permit application. Exceptions can be made only for the following: leave from studies or final academic session.
- You have received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that you have met the requirements to complete your program of study. The transcript and official letter must be included in a post-graduation work permit application.
Within 180 days of the date of applying for the post-graduation work permit, you must also meet one of the following criteria:
- You hold a valid study permit, OR
- You held a study permit, OR
- You were authorized to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit under paragraphs 188(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. This list is limited to private staff of diplomats, members of the armed forces of certain countries, and indigenous people, but it also includes people who enroll in a course or program of studies that is six months or less and will be completed within the period for their stay authorized upon entry into Canada.
Canada wants international students and graduates to plan for a long-term career in the country. To facilitate this goal, the post-graduation work permit program allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience.
With this experience, graduates not only earn professionally — they can also benefit from permanent residence immigration programs that reward Canadian work experience, such as the Canadian Experience Class.
A post-graduation work permit may be valid for up to three years, depending on the duration of the study program in Canada completed by the applicant. Moreover, the post-graduation work permit is an open work permit, allowing its bearer to work in any location in Canada, not restricted to any employer. Neither the applicant nor an employer needs to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before the worker may begin working in Canada.
The post-graduation work permit is sometimes referred to as a post-graduate work permit.
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Eligible universities and colleges
The educational institution must be one of the following: The applicant must provide evidence that the program or programs of study were taken in Canada at one of the following eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs):
- a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, a trade or technical school, a university, or a CEGEP (in Quebec); or
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions in Quebec; or
- a private secondary or post-secondary institution in Quebec offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS); or
- a Canadian, private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees, such as an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, but only if the student is enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree, as authorized by the province, which may not include all programs of study offered by the private institution
See the DLI list to verify schools’ eligibility.
Applications can be submitted either online or on paper.
Work permit duration
How long the post-graduation work permit is valid for depends on the length of the study program.
|Duration of study program||Duration of work permit|
|Less than 8 months||Ineligible|
|Between 8 and 24 months||Valid for up to the same length as the study program|
|24 months or longer||Up to 3 years|
|More than 1 program||May be valid for up to 3 years if more than 1 eligible study program is completed|
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