Canada PGWP holders

Canada PGWP holders can now apply for new open work permits

Canada is now accepting applications for open work permits from current and expired Canada PGWP holders, under the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) public policy announced earlier on January 10, 2021. The new public policy is aimed at giving international students affected by COVID-19 another chance to gain the work experience they need to be eligible for Canadian permanent residence.

For many Canada PGWP holders, the pandemic’s disruption and uncertainty have jeopardized their chances of obtaining the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence. Under the policy former international students who hold or held a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) will have a one-time opportunity to apply for the new PGWP open work permit. 

See also 2022 announcement: Canada’s PGWP International Students can now stay longer in Canada.


Under the policy Canada PGWP holders whose permit expired on or after January 30, 2020, and are still in Canada, have a six-month window to apply for an 18-month Open Work Permit to help them continue to seek the work experience they need to qualify to stay in Canada long-term.

Why is the policy important for Canada PGWP holders?

Canada PGWP enables students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience in Canada after their studies, for a maximum of three years. Skilled Canadian work experience in the national occupational code A, O or B that is gained through the PGWPP helps graduates qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian experience class, within Canada Express Entry SystemQuebec Experience ProgramProvincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), and several other programs that require Canadian work experience.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

The government of Canada reiterates that international students bring so much to Canada, contributing over $21 billion annually to the economy and supporting the vitality of Canadian communities. More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019.


Yet the pandemic has presented myriad challenges for international students. Canada PGWP holders have lost their jobs or seen their hours cut due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it impossible to accumulate within the mandatory three years, the Canadian experience required to be eligible for Canadian permanent resident.


“Whether as nurses on the pandemic’s front lines, or as founders of some of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue the fight against the pandemic. Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting. This new policy means that young students from abroad who have studied here can stay and find work, while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow. Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”  

—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Eligibility to apply

To be eligible for this open work permit, you must meet the following 5 requirements:

  1. Your post-graduation work permit (PGWP)
    1. expired on or after January 30, 2020, or
    2. will expire within 4 months from the date you apply for this open work permit.
  2. You were in Canada as of January 27, 2021, when the public policy took effect, and have stayed in Canada since then.
  3. You either
    1. have a temporary resident status (this could be from having a valid PGWP, visitor record, or another permit that allows you to stay in Canada), or
    2. lost your temporary resident status, but you’ve already applied to restore it, or
    3. lost your temporary resident status, but you’ll apply to restore it at the same time as applying for this open work permit
  4. You include in your application that you’re applying for an open work permit under this public policy.
  5. You have a valid passport.
    1. The work permit will be issued for up to 18 months from the date of approval or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. For example, if your passport is valid for 6 months, then you will be issued an open work permit for 6 months.
    2. To maximize the duration of the open work permit, make sure your passport is valid for at least 18 months from the date of approval.

How to apply

For this open work permit, you must apply online by July 27, 2021.

You can only get this open work permit once, and it cannot be extended. If your passport is valid for 18 months or longer, then you’ll be issued an open work permit for up to 18 months.

Step 1: Make sure you have what you need

To apply online, you need

  • a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents
  • a valid credit or debit card

Step 2: Read the instruction guide

You should read the instruction guide before you complete your application. The guide will explain how to complete each field on the form.

Venezuelan passport holders


You may need to complete extra steps when you fill out your application.

Step 3: Pay your fees

In most cases, your fees will include processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application. We’ll ask you to pay your fees at the end of your application.

For this application, you’ll need to pay the

COVID-19: Changes to biometrics requirement for in-Canada temporary residence applicants

For now, if you’re in Canada and applying to work, study or stay temporarily in Canada, you do not need to give your biometrics. Learn more about the exemption.

Step 4: Create your online account or sign in

You need an account to apply online. You can use your account to

  • pay your fees
  • submit your application forms
  • check your status

How to start your application

Once you sign in to your account, you’ll need to:

  • Go to the Start your application section on the account welcome page.
  • Click “Apply to come to Canada.”
  • On the next page, scroll down to the I do not have a personal reference code section.
  • Click on the “Visitor visa, study and/or work permit” button.

Get your document checklist

You must answer some questions to create a personalized document checklist.

Make sure you answer these questions correctly

Upload the correct documents

You need to include the documents listed in your application, including

  • letter that says you’re applying for an open work permit under the Public Policy Facilitating the Issuance of an Open Work Permit to Former or Current Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Holders

Create an account or sign in.

If you can’t apply online

You can submit a paper application if either

  • you can’t apply online because of a disability, or
  • there’s a problem with the online application

What to do if you can’t apply online.

See also Is COVID-19 Vaccine Passports program coming to Canada?

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.