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Post Graduate Work Permits

During the coronavirus pandemic, Canada took extraordinary procedures to allow international students studying in Canada to complete their studies while still being eligible.for a PGWP. In addition, PGWP holders currently in Canada can apply for a new open work permit with a period of up to 18 months.


As part of its efforts to attract overseas students and keep them as immigrants, Canada offers the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

The PGWP is valid for up to three years (the term of the PGWP varies depending on the length of the person’s Canadian educational programme).

The PGWP is an open work permit that permits international graduates to work for any employer in Canada without having to first get a job offer.

The PGWP allows international graduates to get professional job experience in Canada, which is a huge benefit.

When PGWP holders go on to petition for Canadian immigration, this kind of job experience comes in handy. Many of Canada’s more than 100 immigration programmes reward applicants who have studied and/or worked in the country. In general, a PGWP holder must gain one year of professional work experience in a NOC code of 0, A, or B before applying for a Canadian permanent residence programme.

What are the PGWP’s Eligibility Requirements?

To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must have:

  • Completed studies in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least eight months long at an eligible
  • Designated Learning Institution (DLI) List
  • Study program must lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.
  • Held full-time student status in Canadaduring every academic session of the program or programs of study completed and included as part of their post-graduation work permit application;
    • Note: Canada has waived this requirement during the coronavirus pandemic for certain international students. Exemptions may apply to those who have begun or will begin a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021, or those whose program was already in progress in March 2020. In addition, exceptions may apply for those who took a leave from their studies in their final academic session.
  • Received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study;
    • The transcript and official letter must be included in a post-graduation work permit application.
  • Graduated from:
    • a public post-secondary institution, such as
    • a college
    • a trade or technical school
    • a university
    • CEGEP (in Quebec)
    • a private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec;
    • a private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer and results in the issuance of a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP)or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP); or
    • Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree) but only if the student was enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province.

Frequently asked questions about Post-Graduation work permit

PGWP is an open work permit available to international graduates from eligible Canadian educational institutions. It allows the holder to work for any employer anywhere in Canada.

To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, an international student must:

  • be 18 or older;
  • have continuously studied full-time in Canada in a study program at least eight months long;
  • have a document from your school (transcript, official letter, certificate, etc.) that confirms you completed and passed all your program requirements;
  • have graduated from a:
    • public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school or university, or CEGEP in Quebec or
    • private post-secondary school that operates under the same rules as public schools (currently applies only to certain private post-secondary institutions in Quebec) or
    • private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer, leading to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP) or
    • Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree) but only if you are enrolled in a study programs leading to a degree as authorized by the province.
  • apply for a work permit within 180 days of when it was confirmed that you completed your program; and
  • have held a valid study permit at some point during the 180 days before applying.

Special Notice: Canada has made it possible for international students to begin their program at a Canadian school online in fall 2020, and remain eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) after completing their Canadian studies.

You may not be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit if you:

  • studied in a program that was less than eight months long;
  • studied for more than eight months but not continuously (for example, you took a semester off);
  • took part in a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC);
  • took part in a Government of Canada Awards Program funded by GAC;
  • had funding from GAC;
  • took part in the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada-Chile;
  • took part in the Canada-China Scholars Exchanges Program;
  • took part in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program;
  • completed a study program by distance learning either from abroad or from within Canada; and/or
  • already had a post-graduation work permit following completion of another program of study.

There is no requirement to obtain a PGWP if the graduate does not intend to remain and work in Canada.

The PGWP may be issued for a maximum of three years, depending on the length of the graduate’s program of study in Canada. For example, if the study program was one year in duration, the PGWP will usually be issued for the same length of time (i.e. if a candidate’s study program was 12 months, the PGWP would be valid for 12 months). If, however, study program was two years or more in duration, a PGWP may be issued for up to three years.

Three years is the maximum duration of a PGWP. The permit cannot be valid for longer than the length of the program of study completed in Canada.

In order to apply for a PGWP, a candidate must have completed, passed the program of study, and received a notification of eligibility to receive his or her degree diploma or certificate. This can be proved with a transcript or an official letter.

Additionally, the application must be submitted within 180 days of receiving written confirmation that the candidate has completed his or her studies.

Candidates can submit their application online or by mail to IRCC.

Please consult the CanadaVisa Immigration Processing Times Tool for the current PGWP processing time estimate. Select that you are applying for a Temporary Residence application and then choose “Work permit extension – new employer” under temporary residence application type.

The current total fee for a PGWP is $255 CAD. This is comprised of two parts: $155 CAD is the work permit fee, and $100 CAD for the Open Work Permit Holder fee.

A candidate must also meet all the eligibility criteria for the PGWP program. In addition, a candidate must hold a diploma or degree from one of the following institutions to be eligible for a PGWP:

  • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, trade/technical school, university or CEGEP (in Quebec);
  • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions;
  • a private secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP, in English Diploma of Vocational Studies, or DVS) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle(Attestation of Professional Specialisation, ASP); or
  • a Canadian private institution authorized to grant degrees if the student is enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree, as authorized by the province.

A PGWP applicant should consult the document checklist provided by IRCC.

No. Based on a 2019 update from IRCC, international students must apply for the PGWP 180 days after the school issues their final marks. A study permit must have been valid at some point during the 180 days.

A PGWP cannot be renewed beyond the maximum duration allowed according to the holder’s study program. When a PGWP is about to expire, the holder must apply for a different permit or visa if he or she wishes to continue working in Canada.

Individuals can only receive one PGWP no matter how many Canadian diplomas, degrees or certificates they obtain.

PGWP holders can work in any job for any employer, anywhere in Canada. Certain restrictions may apply.

A candidate can pursue both programs at the same time. A PGWP is a popular way for graduates to remain in Canada and work while waiting for the application for permanent residence to be processed.

In some cases, a student at the end of his or her degree may only have one or two courses remaining in his or her program, and therefore will study part-time in the final semester to fulfill the credit requirements of a study program. In this situation, a student is not considered to have failed the stipulation to study full-time and his or her eligibility for the PGWP is not affected.

In this case, the PGWP may only be issued for a period equal to the duration of studies in Canada. For example, if a candidate transferred to a Canadian university for the last year of a Bachelor program, he or she could obtain a PGWP with a maximum validity of one year.

If the spouse wishes to obtain an open work permit, he or she must submit a separate application. However, in order to obtain an open work permit for an accompanying spouse or common-law partner, the holder of the PGWP must demonstrate that he or she is working in a skilled, managerial, or technical position. In this situation, the spouse needs to submit documents relating to the international graduate’s PGWP and employment, along with his or her application for an open work permit for an accompanying spouse.

Children can also apply for a visitor record or a study permit at the same time the graduate applies for a PGWP. Additional fees and documents are required.

Accompanying family members must submit an application for an appropriate permit in order to remain in Canada with the holder of the PGWP.

The same eligibility criteria apply to international graduates of Quebec institutions. The PGWP program recognizes programs unique to Quebec education system, as long as the program completed is at least 900 hours in length (which is the equivalent of 8 months). Eligible institutions include public or private secondary schools and private post-secondary schools, as long as they are recognized by the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (the Department of Education, Recreation and Sports (MELS)). A PGWP obtained after completing a study program in Quebec is valid throughout Canada.

A study or work permit is not a visa and doesn’t allow you to travel back to Canada. If your TRV or eTA is still valid and your study permit has not expired you may be able to return to Canada. If your TRV or eTA expired, you will need to apply for a new one. If your application for a PGWP was approved during your time outside of Canada, you may enter the country as a worker.

A border officer may ask for proof that you applied for a PGWP when you return to the country. For example, a copy of your application, the fee payment receipt, etc.

If you complete a study program by distance learning either from abroad or from within Canada, you are considered ineligible for the PGWP.

If you are awaiting a decision on your Canada Experience Class (CEC) application and your post-graduation work permit is about to expire, you may be able to apply for a bridging open work permit.

Bridging open work permits allow qualified applicants whose work permits are about to expire (within four months or less) to keep working while they wait for a final decision on their permanent residence application.

PGWPs are only valid for up to the expiry date of a passport. Otherwise, it is important to renew your passport far in advance to applying for a PGWP.

It is important to apply for a PGWP before a study permit expires. You do not have to wait until you physically receive your diploma or attend your graduation ceremony before you apply. A notification that outlines that you are eligible to receive your degree, diploma or certificate may be sufficient. For example, a transcript or an official letter. It is important to apply within 180 days of receiving a written confirmation that you have completed the requirements of your study program.

Implied status is when student or worker applies to extend their status before that status expires, so they can stay in Canada until a decision is made on a new permit application.

Therefore, students who have completed their program of study can remain in Canada under the same conditions of their study permit while they are waiting for a decision on their PGWP application as long as they were full-time students enrolled at a designated learning institution in a participating post-secondary institution, and they did not exceed the allowable hours of work.

Yes. New international students will be able to begin their programs at a Canadian DLI online in fall 2020 and complete up to 50 per cent of the program while abroad, and then still be able to obtain the PGWP to work in Canada after completing their studies.