International student enrolment in Canadian educational institutions numbered above 300,000 in 2019. They originate from 225 countries, with over half from China and India. International students contribute an estimated 40% of all tuition fees and account for almost $4 billion in annual revenue for Canadian universities in 2019.
After graduating from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs), international students can obtain an open work permit to start working in their province of choice. This Canadian work experience helps graduates qualify for permanent residence through the easiest way to immigrate to Canada, the Express Entry System.
In 2019, more than 50,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate to Canada permanently. Over 60% of international students with a bachelor’s degree and 50% of those with a master’s degree became permanent residents within ten years of their graduation.
Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP)
A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows graduates from Canadian institutions to remain in the country and work after completing their program. All applicants must apply for a PGWP within 180 days after receiving their final grades or graduation.
PGWPs are awarded to each person only once, and they cannot be renewed. Applicants are required to have a valid study permit, a valid visitor record, or an implied status, meaning their application to extend their study permit is being processed.
Other requirements include:
- A recognized certificate, diploma, or degree from a Canadian designated learning institution (public or private)
- The study program must have lasted a minimum of 8 months
- Full-time student status throughout the program (except for the final semester)
PGWPs are not awarded to:
- Applicants from exchange programs or non-Canadian institutions in Canada
- Applicants awarded scholarships from Global Affairs Canada
- Applicants who completed their program through remote learning
- Applicants who completed general interest programs
Canadian PGWP Extension
The term length of a PGWP depends on the study program the applicant completed. Graduates of programs under one year may receive a PGWP of less than one year, while graduates of 2-year degree programs may qualify for a PGWP of up to 3 years.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, PGWPs can only be extended for people who have expired passports or for those in the Express Entry application pool for permanent residency.
In January 2021, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced that former international students who hold or held a PGWP would have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit.
Foreign nationals with expired or expiring PGWPs can apply for another work permit that will be valid for 18 months. This will allow these graduates to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment, build their future, and contribute to the Canadian economy.
This policy applies to students with expiring PGWPs and those whose working hours were reduced due to COVID. This open permit is not tied to a specific employer, so students can pursue different work opportunities throughout the 18-month window.
The Canadian government encourages hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals to pursue bachelor’s degrees or higher in the country. After graduation, these students can easily apply for a work permit and then use that work experience for a smooth application process for permanent residency. Even in the midst of COVID-19, the Canadian government remains committed to providing international students with clear pathways to employment and immigration.
A Canadian immigration agency will help you through every step of your student permit and post-graduate work permit application.
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