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You may have options to stay in Canada even after your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) expiry date.

The PGWP typically allows international student graduates to work in Canada for up to three years after completing their studies (depending on their study program). After your PGWP expires you cannot extend or renew it—with exceptions for people who were eligible for the special pandemic-era extension.

Once this permit expires, you must explore alternative options to stay legally in Canada. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are many options available to many circumstances.

If you were able to secure enough skilled work experience to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), then you may be able to apply through Express Entry or one of the Quebec skilled worker programs.

However, many people either don’t get enough work experience or don’t have what’s considered “skilled work” experience to be eligible for Express Entry. But that alone does not spell the end of your Canadian immigration journey.

In this article, we’ve conglomerated a number of options for PGWPs to stay in Canada even after their work permit expires.

Use the jump menu below to navigate this page. Click on the topic that interests you to learn more.

And if you haven’t already, take Moving2Canada’s free Canada Immigration Quiz and see if you’re eligible for more than 20 Canadian immigration programs. You’ll also get a checklist to help guide you on how to apply for your preferred program.

Get a work permit to stay in Canada after PGWP expires

LMIA

If you have a job already, you may be able to get a work permit supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Obtaining an LMIA can be a complex process. An LMIA is a document that an employer in Canada may need to get before hiring a foreign worker. Here’s a general guide on how you might approach this:

Find a Job Offer: Look for a job offer from a Canadian employer willing to sponsor your work. The employer must be willing to go through the LMIA process.

Employer Applies for LMIA: The employer needs to apply to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) for an LMIA. They have to demonstrate that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available for the job, and hiring a foreign worker won’t negatively affect the Canadian labour market.

Wait for Approval: The LMIA process can take some time. Once approved, the employer will receive a positive or neutral LMIA. A positive LMIA means the employer has shown the need to hire a foreign worker. A neutral LMIA means there would be no positive or negative impact on the labour market in the hiring of a foreign worker. In both cases the worker (i.e. you as a PGWP holder) can apply for a work permit.

Apply for a Work Permit: With the positive or neutral LMIA, you can apply for a new work permit. Include the positive LMIA along with your application.

Remember, this process involves several steps and specific criteria that both you and your employer need to meet.

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LMIA-exempt work permits

Some people may be able to get an LMIA-exempt work permit that falls under the International Mobility Program (IMP). These programs are designed to promote cultural exchange, facilitate economic growth, and fill labor shortages in specific sectors. Some key programs under the IMP include:

International Experience Canada (IEC): The IEC program allows young people (usually aged 18-35) from partner countries to obtain work permits for temporary employment in Canada. It includes categories such as Working Holiday, Young professionals, and International Co-op programs.

Mobilité Francophone: Also known as the “Francophone Mobility Program,” it encourages French-speaking foreign nationals to work in Francophone minority communities outside of Quebec to help strengthen the use of the French language and promote Francophone immigration to Canada. To qualify, you need to speak French at an intermediate level, which would be a level 5 or higher in the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) scale.

Beyond the Francophone Mobility Program, having French language skills can greatly improve your chances of Canadian immigration. Check out our article on How French can help you immigrate to Canada.

Bridging Open Work Permit: If you apply for permanent residency, and your documents will expire before your application gets processed you can extend your stay with a Briding Open Work Permit (BOWP). Please note, you do not automatically get maintained status when you are applying for a permanent residency program from a temporary residence program.

These are just a few of the more common LMIA-exempt work permits. Remember, each program has its specific eligibility criteria and requirements. Applicants must ensure they meet the criteria and follow the application procedures outlined by the Canadian immigration authorities or the respective country’s immigration department for programs outside Canada.

Try other permanent residency pathways

If you don’t qualify for Express Entry, which requires a minimum of one year of skilled work experience plus other criteria, you may be eligible for Canada’s many other permanent residency pathways.

Base PNPs

Yes certain programs under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) does use the Express Entry pool to invite candidates—but not all.

In fact, participating provinces also have their own “base PNPs” that operate on the province’s own system. Some of these, including the BC PNP Semi-Skilled stream, do not require work experience to be classified under TEER categories 0, 1, 2, or 3 (aka “skilled work”).

You may need to meet work experience requirements, such as a certain amount of work experience in a TEER category 4 or 5 occupation, or a valid job offer. Nonetheless, check out the many PNP options including those that are tailored to in-demand jobs.

Also, track PNP happenings with Moving2Canada’s PNP Tracker.

AIP/RNIP/AFP

The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) and Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) are two location-specific programs.

If you went to school in an Atlantic province (Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) you may be able to immigrate through the AIP. Similarly, if you studied in a RNIP city, or have a job offer there you may have a chance to apply for permanent residency. Be sure to check the eligibility requirements of your city though!

The Agri-Food Pilot allows workers in certain year-round agri-food occupations to apply for permanent residency. While education requirements are less than what typical PGWP-holders would have, you need to have at least one year of eligible work experience in order to qualify, as well as valid job offer.

Business immigration

Are you the entrepreneurial type?

Canada offers a number of business immigration programs that allow entrepreneurs to start or grow an existing business in Canada.

Take the Start-Up Visa for example, if you have a qualifying business and secure a commitment from a designated organization.

You may even be able to immigrate through the Self Employed Immigration program.

Spousal sponsorship

Did you get married or become common-law with a Canadian permanent resident or citizen? Your may be able to apply through Spouse and Common-law Sponsorship.

To qualify, you need to demonstrate that you are in an ongoing genuine relationship with a Canadian, and that you are either married or have lived together for at least one year to be considered common-law.

Go back to school

While not an ideal move for everyone, as tuition costs are expensive, studying in Canada again may be an option. For some, the long-term benefits may pay off not only in the labour market, but in getting Canadian permanent residency.

You won’t be able to get another PGWP after your graduate program, but it may open the doors to certain immigration programs that require higher education, such as Ontario’s Employer Job Offer Master’s or PhD streams.

Stay as a visitor

Another option may be to just stay in Canada as a visitor. You can stay up to six months in Canada on a visitor visa or electronic Travel Authorization.

In fact, Canada is friendly to digital nomads. You can work for a foreign company remotely in Canada for as long as your visitor status is valid.

Whatever you choose, each pathway has its own set of requirements and processes, so it’s crucial to research thoroughly and consider seeking professional assistance to make informed decisions regarding your stay in Canada post-PGWP.

Get help with the next steps after your PGWP by signing up for a free Moving2Canada account. You can also sign up for our news letter for all new updates related to Canadian immigration news.