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Canada's PGWP International Students

Canada’s PGWP International Students can now stay longer in Canada

Canada announced measures to ensure that PGWP international students can stay longer in Canada. The target is international student graduates whose Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is expiring between January and December 2022. Starting in the summer of 2022, they will qualify to get an additional open work permit for up to 18 months. Under normal circumstances, the PGWP is not extendable or renewable. Graduates must be in Canada to qualify.

Canada’s Express Entry immigration pool draws for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates paused since September. As a result, a number of PGWP holders whose permits are expiring have to apply for a new work permit, quit their jobs, or leave the country.

In 2021, more than 157,000 international students became permanent residents. More than 88,000 of them transitioned directly from PGWP to permanent residency.

According to  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), about 95,000 PGWPs will expire in 2022. Consequently, an estimate of 50,000 people may benefit from this new announcement. According to IRCC,  “We are exploring a simplified, expeditious process for this, and details will be made available in the weeks ahead.”

About Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

PGWP 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 gained through PGWP helps graduates qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian experience class, within Canada Express Entry System.

Canada continues to emphasize the importance of international students to help bridge labour shortages and boost post-pandemic economic recovery. In keynote address at ApplyBoard’s annual Educate the World Conference on March 10, Immigration minister Sean Fraser said that:

“Our message to international students and graduates is simple,” said Fraser. “We don’t just want you to study here. We’re hoping to create pathways that allow you to stay here and make a lasting contribution beyond your academic career.”

See also Canada’s international students soon to get permanent PR pathways.

The immigration minister said Canada must continue to look for new ways to encourage international students to remain in Canada after graduation. The PGWP announcement is further effort to allow PGWP holders to stay in Canada longer. This enables them to also gain work experience, and have a better chance at permanent residency. 

Supporting Canada’s International Students

Canada remains a top pick for international students. In 2021 IRCC issued 621,565 study permits, up almost 17.7 per cent from the 528,190 in 2020. That is impressively as high as the pre-pandemic levels. And it is only 2.6 per cent lower than the record of 638,280 study permits set in 2019.

The Canadian government supported international students through the COVID-19 pandemic by: 

“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to support international students,” Minister Fraser said. “Because we believe in the contribution they make to our communities, and to our economy, right across Canada.”

Pathway to permanent residence for international students

Canada’s international students can use their student work experience and their PGWP experience to boost their application for Canadian permanent residence.

Canada’s international students can work while studying to start building work experience for PR application. They can work under the following categories:

  • on campus without a work permit;
  • off campus with a work permit; and also
  • in co-op and internship programs, where work experience is part of the curriculum, with a work permit.

After graduation international students can apply for a PGWP. These permits are valid for at least eight months and may last for up to three years. PGWP allows international graduates to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. They can then apply for PR via Express Entry under the Canadian Experience Class stream.

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