Securing a Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit & Common Pitfalls to Avoid
Miguel A. Martins, Immigration Lawyer, Canada
What is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (“PGWP”) Program?
The PGWP allows international students who have graduated from an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable work experience in Canada after their studies.
The PGWP is an open work permit, allowing graduates to work for any employer and in any occupation they choose. They are valid between eight months to three years, and with qualified Canadian work experience, graduates can significantly improve their qualifications for permanent residency under the various federal and provincial programs.
However, international graduates seeking a PGWP can often face complications that prevent them from securing the permit, and all likelihood, squander their chance to become a Canadian permanent resident.
This article will explain common pitfalls to avoid when choosing to study in Canada and issues to keep in mind during your studies that will assist you in securing a PGWP.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
Choosing a post-secondary program that is not eligible for a PGWP
To apply for a PGWP, students must have completed a program at a designated learning institution. It is important to note that not all programs at designated learning institutions make you eligible for a PGWP. Before selecting the school and program of study, make sure it is PGWP eligible here.
Choosing a Program of Study that is not at least two years in length
International graduates can only apply for a PGWP once in their lifetime. To receive the maximum allowable length of three-years, the program of study must be at least two years in length. Any program of study that is less than two years will result in a work permit that coincides with the length of the program. Keep in mind that permanent residency streams such as the Canadian Experience Class have a minimum requirement of at least one year of “skilled work” in Canada.
Considering the competitiveness of the permanent residency pools and the general difficulty associated with qualifying for other types of Canadian work permits, maximizing the PGWP length is crucial.
Taking an unauthorized leave from your studies
On January 10, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) updated their policy guidelines to require proof of an authorized leave from studies, indicating a firmer approach to PGWP processing going forward.
In general, students must maintain full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the program to remain eligible for a PGWP.
One exemption to this general rule is if the student receives an authorized leave from studies by their school. If a student takes a leave during their study program, they must now include documentation proving the leave was authorized in their PGWP application. Make sure to collect this during your program even if the school does not require you to request an authorized leave to take a semester off, as schools may not issue this documentation retroactively.
Missing the deadline to apply
Since the PGWP is a once in a lifetime opportunity, make sure you don’t miss the deadline to apply. Graduates have up to 180 days to apply for a PGWP after they receive their degree, diploma, transcript, or official letter of completion from the school.
If your study permit will expire before you receive your final grades, you must either:
- Apply for a visitor record before the study permit expires to stay in Canada longer; or
- Leave Canada to apply for the PGWP.
Make sure to avoid these common pitfalls when planning to study and work in Canada. As an international student, the PGWP is a great way to start your career and leverage your education and work experience to take advantage of the permanent residency pathways available.
Learn more about various immigration options to Canada:
BinHimyar Law Group is a full service immigration law firm with multilingual staff offering services in English, Arabic, Portuguese, & Spanish. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, trades-person, student, or tourist, our firm can assist you navigate Canada’s complex immigration system.
Contact Miguel Martins today to discuss your work permit options.
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