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.

2022 Special Initiative for Expiring Post-Graduation Work Permits

In August 2022, Canada introduced a new open work permit program for Post-Graduation Work Permit holders whose work permits expired (or will expire) from September 20, 2021, to December 31, 2022. These workers are eligible to work in Canada for an additional 18 months by either extending their work permit or applying for a new one. Those currently in Canada will also have the ability to work in the interim period while their permit is being extended or a new one is being issued.

Those interested in applying for this new program can do so by consulting this IRCC webpage.

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, final academic session, or COVID-19 related reasons (explained below).
  • 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.

Special policy for online study during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the pandemic, you can complete 100% of your study online from abroad and still be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Any studies completed outside Canada between spring 2020 and August 31, 2022, counts toward the length of a PGWP. This applies even if you’re completing 2 study programs. These loosened requirements apply to “all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.”

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.

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 programDuration of work permit
Less than 8 monthsIneligible
Between 8 and 24 monthsValid for up to the same length as the study program
24 months or longerUp to 3 years
More than 1 programMay be valid for up to 3 years if more than 1 eligible study program is completed

Moving2Canada now has a complete study section, dedicated to helping you come to Canada as a student and stay long-term. Visit the study section to learn more!