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PGWP for online studies

International students now eligible for PGWP even with 100% of studies online abroad

By news release of February 12, 2021, the Government of Canada has announced that international students who complete their entire postsecondary program online abroad will now be eligible for the three-year open post-graduate work permit (PGWP) after graduation. Before this new policy, online learning could not count towards a PGWP application, but that has now changed.

Canada continues to demonstrate its appreciation of the importance of international students to its post-pandemic economic recovery, and this policy reaffirms its commitment to provide international students a clear pathway to permanent residency.

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

International students bring so much to Canada, contributing more than $21 billion annually to its economy and supporting the vitality of its communities. In 2019, more than 572,000 international students contributed $21 billion to the Canadian economy, supporting 170,000 jobs through tuition and spending. Also that year, more than 58,000 graduates became Canadian permanent residents.

“Whether as health workers 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 students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities, 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.”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino

Virtually all immigration programs require or highly value work experience and the PGWP is the most popular way for international students to gain this experience. For example the federal Express EntryQuebec Experience Program, and the Provincial Nominee Programs all highly value Canadian work experience and some programs require it.

However, the pandemic has presented myriad challenges for international students, and the Government of Canada has taken action to assist them through this difficult time with a variety of measures, including offering open work permits for former international students who hold or held a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). See Canada PGWP holders can now apply for new open work permits.

PGWP for online studies

This new policy will ensure that international students won’t miss out on opportunities due to the pandemic after they graduate. With the prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months, temporary changes to the PGWP Program put in place earlier in the pandemic are also being extended and expanded.

These measures will assist international students by ensuring that studies completed outside Canada will count towards a future PGWP, and by allowing international students to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP. The measures apply to all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria.

  • These measures apply to all international students who
    • are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program
    • began, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020
    • have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved
    • meet all other PGWP criteria

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