What to Do After PGWP Expires? – 5 Ways to Stay in Canada

Published on: November 20th, 2023

Some international graduates who are not currently eligible to extend their status may feel limited in their options to remain in Canada after their Post Graduation Work Permit expires.

Contact us to discuss your options to remain in Canada

The Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allows international graduates to work anywhere in Canada for up to three years.

Unfortunately, this work permit can only be extended in specific circumstances. However, there are some options that may allow PGWP holders to remain temporarily, or even permanently in Canada.

Here are five options for PGWP holders to remain in Canada after their permit expires:

1.    Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

There are many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) offered to international graduates in Canada that wish to settle in their province.

Many nominee programs, known as ‘enhanced’ PNPs operate using the Express Entry system. Receiving a nomination through an enhanced PNP allows a candidate to receive 600 points toward their Express Entry CRS score. Canada has continued to hold Express Entry draws for PNP recipients throughout the pandemic.

This means a PGWP holder could benefit from Express Entry’s expedited processing time. This could allow PGWP holders to receive permanent residence status as soon as 6-months after applying.

For PGWP holders that have not completed work experience in an occupational skill type eligible for Express Entry, there still PNP options available. Many provinces offer ‘base’ PNPs, which often allow candidates in TEER 0, 1, 2 and 3 according to the  National Occupation Classification (NOC) to apply.

2.    Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

The Atlantic Immigration Program helps certain recent graduates from an Atlantic post-secondary institute become permanent residents. This program may allow PGWP holders to remain in Canada before their permit expires.

To be considered, candidates must have completed a qualifying program of at least 2 years. Qualifying graduates must also hold a job offer in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador. The job offer can be in TEER 0, 1, 2 and 3.

The benefit of this program is that eligible international graduates do not need to meet minimum work experience requirements. This allows PGWP holders to apply, even before they’ve started working. This may be beneficial for PGWP holders that haven’t gained enough work experience to apply through other programs before their permit expires.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot program ended on December 31, 2021. It will be replaced with the permanent Atlantic Immigration Program on March 6, 2022.

3.    Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

If you graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution in one of eleven select rural communities across Canada, you may be eligible to apply under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).

The pilot program requires candidates to have completed a master’s degree or a post-secondary program of at least two years and to have spent a minimum amount of time in the community.

Each rural community also has its own eligibility criteria for applicants that intend to apply to their program.

4.    Work permit

Most work permits require employers to go through the lengthy and costly process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

However, there are other options to apply for a work permit that do not require an LMIA. Canada’s International Mobility Program (IMP) enables Canadian employers to hire temporary foreign workers without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). To apply for an LMIA-exempt work permit, your work must have broader economic, cultural, or other competitive advantages for Canada, and reciprocal benefits enjoyed by Canadians and permanent residents.

If you are eligible to apply for permanent residency before your PGWP expires, you may also be eligible to apply for a bridging open work permit. This permit will allow you to work while waiting for the finalization of your permanent residency application.

5.    Enroll in a new post-secondary program

Enrolling in a new post-secondary program in Canada could allow you to remain in Canada and work up to 20 hours per week. If you are eligible for Express Entry but are waiting to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), this may be a way for you to stay in Canada in the meantime.

It is important to note that, if you no longer hold a valid work permit, or have maintained status, you cannot continue working in Canada. You must have valid status to remain in Canada.


Contact us to learn more about your options to remain in Canada after your PGWP work permit expires.

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