Canada Post-Graduate Work Permit Program - AfriCanada Immigration Inc.
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Immigration and Citizenship

Canada Post-Graduate Work Permit Program

What is Canada Post-Graduate Work Permit Program?

Canada post-graduate work permit program (PGWPP) permits students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. 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 System.

NOTE:
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers and staff. Key information is posted here for your convenience from IRCC website but please visit IRCC website for additional information.

Post-graduation work permits are exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessments. They are considered open and coded as C43.

With a post-graduation work permit, as with all open work permits, graduates can

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  • work full time
  • work part time
  • be self-employed

The supporting regulatory framework for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is subparagraph 205(c)(ii)of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Regulations.

Post-graduation work permit validity

A post-graduation work permit may be issued based on the length of the study program for a minimum of 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years.

When determining the length of a post-graduation work permit, IRCC officers may consider the duration of the program of study in Canada and confirm it with supporting documents. Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, scheduled winter and summer breaks) should be included in the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

Determining the length of the post-graduation work permit

The validity period of the post-graduation work permit may not go beyond the applicant’s passport validity date. If the applicant’s passport expires before the validity period of the post-graduation work permit, the applicant has to apply for a work permit extension upon the renewal of their passport to receive the full validity of their post-graduation work permit.

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Post-graduation work permits can be extended only when the length of the permit could not be provided at the time of the application, due to the expiry date of the applicant’s passport.

Note: Sometimes the duration of studies would be shorter than the duration of the program, as indicated in the letter confirming the completion of the program of study, and the program was not completed in an accelerated form, the post‑graduation work permit may be issued in accordance with the duration of studies. For example, if the applicant undertook classes for a period of 12 months, not in an accelerated form, but their degree notes that it is a 2‑year degree, the post-graduation work permit may be issued for 12 months, in accordance with the duration of their studies.

Length of the program or programs of study, including Quebec vocational programs with a diploma of college studies (DCS) and an attestation of college studies (ACS)Length of Quebec vocational programs with a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or attestation of vocational specialization (AVS)Length of the post-graduation work permit that can be issued
The program of study is at least 8 months and less than 2 years.The vocational program of study is at least 900 hours and less than 1,800 hours.The length of the work permit should coincide with the length of the program, as confirmed by the eligible DLI in the written confirmation of program completion (such as an official letter of completion or transcript).Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, regularly scheduled winter and summer breaks) should not be subtracted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.For a graduates with a DVS or AVS, a pro-rated calculation may be performed to determine the length.Note: Officers may issue 3‑year post-graduation work permits to individuals who complete a master’s or doctoral degree in Canada when the eligible DLI has confirmed in the written confirmation of program completion that the degree is 16 to 23 months in length and does not include regularly scheduled breaks.
The program of study is 2 years or longer.The vocational program of study is 1,800 hours or longer.If the length of the program is confirmed by the eligible DLI in the written confirmation of program completion (such as an official letter or transcript), the length of the work permit should be 3 years.Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, regularly scheduled winter and summer breaks) should not be subtracted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.
The student completed more than one program from an eligible DLI within 2 years.Note: Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months in length.The student completed more than one DVS or AVS program from an eligible DLI within 2 years.Note: Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 900 hours in length.The length of the work permit should combine the length of each program.If the combined length is more than 2 years (or 1,800 hours for DVS and AVS programs in Quebec), the work permit may be valid for up to 3 years.

Accelerated studies

If a student completes their studies in less time than the normal length of the program (that is, they have accelerated their studies), the post-graduation work permit will be assessed on the length of the program of study.

For example, if the student is enrolled in a program of study that is normally 1 year in duration, but the student completes the requirements for the program of study within 8 months, they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit that is valid for 1 year.

Distance learning

Distance learning can be considered online learning. Students who complete a program of study exclusively by distance learning (outside or within Canada) are not eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

IRCC officers use the following guidelines to assess an applicant’s post-graduation work permit eligibility when the applicant has taken distance learning in Canada at an eligible DLI:

  • If more than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, the program may reasonably be considered a distance-learning program, and the applicant is ineligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  • If less than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, a post-graduation work permit may be issued. The validity should be based on the length of the program, as confirmed by the eligible DLI, including credits earned from both in-class and distance-learning courses.

Note: If the distance-learning courses are completed outside Canada, they will be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

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Transfers between educational institutions

In cases where a student has transferred between eligible Canadian DLIs, the combined length of study must be at least 8 months to qualify for a post-graduation work permit.

In cases where a student graduated from an eligible DLI after having transferred from an ineligible institution, only time spent at the eligible DLI counts as eligible for post-graduation work permit issuance. Time spent at the eligible institution must be at least 8 months.

  • Example 1: Transferring from a foreign institution
  • Example 2: Transferring from an ineligible institution
  • Example 3: Transferring between eligible DLIs

Programs with an overseas component

If a student completes a program of study in Canada that has an overseas component, they are eligible for the PGWPP, as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential from an eligible DLI. However, the length of the post-graduation work permit is based on the length of time they studied in Canada. Officers may contact the DLI to confirm that the studies have taken place in Canada.

Making an application

Applicants must apply for a work permit within 180 days of receiving written confirmation (such as an official letter or transcript) from the educational institution indicating that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study.

Calculation of 180 days begins the day the student’s final marks are issued or the day formal written notification of program completion is received, whichever comes first. The onus is on the applicant to provide proof of the date the transcript is received. IRCC officers may also confirm this date with the educational institution.

The applicant may apply for a post-graduation work permit from within Canada if their study permit is still valid. If the applicant’s study permit is no longer valid, and they wish to remain in Canada, they must apply for visitor status before their study permit expires.

Former international students who change their status to visitor status before their study permit expires, while waiting for their notice of graduation from their institution, may also apply for a post-graduation work permit from within Canada.

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Foreign nationals who do not apply for a post-graduation work permit, and whose study permit becomes invalid or expires, must either leave Canada or submit an application to change their status in Canada. They may also be subject to Restoration of temporary resident status.

Foreign nationals may apply for a post-graduation work permit from overseas.

The application package for a post-graduation work permit can be obtained through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website:

Work authorization after submitting a post-graduation work permit application

Graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a post-graduation work permit, before the expiry of their study permit are eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application if all of the following apply:

  • They are or were the holders of a valid study permit at the time of the post-graduation work permit application.
  • They have completed their program of study.
  • They met the requirements for working off campus without a work permit under paragraph R186(v) (that is, they were a full-time student enrolled at a DLI in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program of at least 6 months in duration that led to a degree, diploma or certificate).
  • They did not exceed the allowable hours of work under paragraph R186(v).

Applicants must stop working as soon as they are notified by IRCC (for example, via their MyAccount, by email or by mailed letter) that their application for a work permit is refused.

Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders

Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders may be eligible to apply for an open work permit under the C41 exemption (spouses and common-law partners of skilled workers).

Post-Graduation Work Permit eligibility requirements

Applicants can receive only 1 post-graduation work permit in their lifetime.

To obtain a post-graduation work permit, the applicant must currently hold valid temporary status or have left Canada. They must have graduated from an eligible designated learning institution (DLI). They must also submit clear evidence that they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They have completed an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible institution in Canadathat is at least 8 months in duration leading to a degree, diploma or certificate.
  • They 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:
  • They have received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that they have met the requirements to complete their program of study. Note: 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, applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • They hold a valid study permit.
  • They held a study permit.
  • They 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.

Ineligible applicants

Students are ineligible if they

  • have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit
  • received funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
  • participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program funded by GAC
  • obtained the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada–Chile
  • participated in the Canada–China Scholars’ Exchange Program
  • participated in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program
  • completed the majority of the credits toward the completion of their program of study by distance learning
  • completed a program of study delivered by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada, regardless of their length of stay in Canada

Supporting documents

The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the information provided is accurate.

Letter confirming completion of the program of study

The letter confirming completion of the program of study is used to assess the requirements referred to above. IRCC officers may request additional documents to complete the assessment of the application.

Transcript

The applicant may provide an official transcript issued by their DLI if available. Alternatively, the applicant may also provide a transcript copy from their DLI’s website. The transcript, along with the letter of completion of studies, is used to assess the requirements referred to above. Officers may request additional documents to complete the assessment of the application.

Leave from studies

If the applicant remained in Canada while a student and took leave from their studies during their program, the IRCC officer will determine if the applicant was compliant with the conditions of their study permit, as outlined in Assessing study permit conditions. IRCC officers may request additional documents to complete their assessment. Per paragraph R220.1(1)(b), students must

  • be enrolled at a DLI
  • remain enrolled
  • be actively pursuing their course or program of study

If the IRCC officer determines that the student actively pursued studies during their leave, the student may still be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).

If it is determined that the student has not met the conditions of their study permit, they may be banned from applying for a post-graduation work permit for 6 months from the date they stopped their unauthorized study or work, per subparagraph R200(3)(e)(i).

For information about labour disruptions and strikes, see Applicants impacted by a designated learning institution (DLI) strike.

Part-time status for final academic session

Students must maintain their full-time student status during each academic session of the program or programs of study they complete and submit as part of their post-graduation work permit application. However, if a student meets all the eligibility requirements, with the exception of full-time status during their final academic session (that is, they have part-time status only in their final academic session), they are still considered eligible for the PGWPP.

PGWPP eligible programs and institutions

Students are ineligible for a post-graduation work permit if they have completed the following:

  • an English as a second language or French as a second language course or program of study
  • general interest or self-improvement courses
  • a course or program of study at a private career college

Eligible institutions

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
    • CEGEP (in Quebec)
  • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions in Quebec
  • 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)
    • an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS)
  • 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.

DLIs that lose their designation

Applicants whose DLI loses its designation status before the completion of their program may transfer to another program or remain at the institution that has lost its designation status to complete their program of study. These applicants may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, provided they meet all other program requirements and have continued to meet the conditions of their study permit (for example, be enrolled and actively pursuing studies).

Graduates of vocational and professional training programs in Quebec

Note: The following procedures apply only to graduates of Quebec institutions with either

  • a DVS
  • an AVS

See the Guidelines for determining the length of the post-graduation work permit for validity periods of post-graduation work permits issued to graduates of Quebec vocational programs.

In Quebec, vocational and professional training programs can be delivered at the secondary or post-secondary level. The provisions of the Canada–Quebec Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the entry of certain temporary foreign workers outline when international students are eligible for a post-graduation work permit. To be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, the student must graduate from a recognized secondary institution in Quebec with one of the following diplomas:

  • DVS
  • AVS

The diploma must be issued by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (MEES) (Department of Education and Higher Education).

Procedures for Quebec

Note: All of the general eligibility criteria, conditions of the work permit and processing procedures for the PGWPP apply in conjunction with the following:

Eligible applicants

Applicants who have graduated from Quebec vocational institutions with a DVS or AVS must fulfill all of the following criteria:

  • They are 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • They have completed a full-time vocational or professional training program at an eligible institution in Quebec.
  • They have been in a program of study that was a minimum of 900 hours (equivalent to 8 months).
  • They have submitted an official letter from the institution outlining the duration of the program of study (in hours or months) to facilitate the processing and issuance of the post-graduation work permit and to ensure accurate duration of work authorization.
  • They include one of the following in the work permit application:
    • the credential
    • an official attestation of program completion
    • an official transcript from a Quebec school board or private institution recognized by the MEES in support of the work permit application
Eligible institutions

Officers should verify Quebec public and private secondary schools through Inforoute: Vocational and technical training in Quebec.

Note: This website is operated by the MEES and Compétences Québec. It can be used to validate the following:

  • schools
  • programs
  • length in hours
  • resulting credential

Eligible applicants who have changed institutions during their training program must have a combined total of at least 900 hours (equivalent to 8 months) of courses at eligible institutions located in Quebec.

Flight school graduates

To obtain a post-graduation work permit, flight school graduates must submit clear evidence that they meet the basic requirements for a permit and have done either of the following:

  • They have completed a flight training course at a DLI training centre and obtained a Canadian commercial pilot’s license.
  • They have obtained or are in the process of obtaining an instructor’s rating and have received an offer of employment as a flight instructor from a DLI flight training centre in Canada.

See Post-graduation work permit validity and application for guidelines on the length of the post-graduation work permit that can be issued.

Post-graduation work permit applicants and travel

This section details what post-graduation work permit holders need if they leave Canada and wish to return.

Temporary resident visas (TRVs) for post-graduation work permit applicants

The following applies to applicants from countries whose nationals require a visa:

  • For post-graduation work permit applications submitted from outside Canada, a TRV is issued upon approval of the post-graduation work permit.
  • For post-graduation work permit applications submitted from within Canada, a TRV is not issued upon approval of the application. The applicant must submit a separate TRV application if their TRV has expired, and they would like to travel outside Canada and return. Note: Applicants should not apply for a TRV until they have received their post-graduation work permit, as the TRV is issued only for the length of the applicant’s current status document or travel document, whichever has the earlier expiry date.

Electronic travel authorizations (eTAs) for post-graduation work permit applicants

eTAs for post-graduation work permit applicants from countries whose nationals do not require a visa are issued upon approval of the post-graduation work permit application. Clients who are eligible for an eTA through eTA expansion are also issued an eTA upon the issuance of the post-graduation work permit.

If an eTA is issued with a post-graduation work permit for an eTA expansion client, and the client holds a valid TRV, the officer should not cancel the existing TRV. Until it expires, the client can continue to use the TRV to travel to Canada by

  • air
  • land
  • sea

Note: An eTA should not be issued in the following cases:

  • The foreign national has an unenforced removal order.
  • The foreign national has been issued a work permit that “does not confer temporary resident status”.
  • The foreign national has overstayed their authorized period of stay.
  • The foreign national is a temporary resident permit holder.
  • The foreign national is inadmissible to Canada.

In all of the above cases, officers must cancel any valid eTAs, including those issued through the expansion of eTA.

Note: Post-graduation work permit holders from countries whose nationals are visa-exempt who received their post-graduation work permit before May 1, 2017, must submit a separate eTA application if their previous eTA has expired, and they would like to travel outside Canada and return by air during the validity of their post-graduation work permit.

Travel before a decision is made on a post-graduation work permit application

Post-graduation work permit applicants who leave and seek to re-enter Canada before a decision is made on their application must be in possession of either a valid

  • TRV, when they are from a country whose nationals require a visa
  • eTA, when they are from a country whose nationals are visa-exempt, and they are travelling to Canada by air

Applicants may also work in Canada while waiting for a decision on their post-graduation work permit application.

Travel for permit holders

Post-graduation work permit holders seeking to re-enter Canada from another country during the validity of their work permit must also be in possession of either a valid

  • TRV, when they are from a country whose nationals require a visa
  • eTA, when they are from a country whose nationals are visa-exempt, and they are travelling to Canada by air

See also: Canada Increases Application Time for Post-Graduate Work Permits

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