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The Ultimate Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) Guide 2020

Post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) are open work permits given to international students who graduate from a Canadian program of study. PGWPs allow the holder to work for any employer, for as many hours they wish, anywhere in Canada. 

PGWPs are valid for between eight months to three years and are a great way to obtain valuable Canadian work experience. Once an applicant has work experience in Canada, it opens a lot of opportunities to obtain Canadian permanent residence

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What is a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) are for international students who have graduated from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI). PGWPs are open work permits, meaning that they grant foreign nationals the freedom to work for any employer, anywhere in Canada. 

IMMIGRATION TIP

Not all programs of study in Canada are eligible for a post-graduation work permit. Be sure to verify PGWP eligibility before selecting a program.

Unlike most Canadian work permits, the PGWP does not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). PGWPs enable eligible graduates to gain valuable Canadian work experience. With enough work experience in Canada, many foreign nationals become eligible for Canada’s permanent residency programs, including one of the following pathways:

PGWP quick facts

  1. A post-graduation work permit can be valid for any length of time between eight months and three years. 
  2. A PGWP will not be issued for a duration longer than the applicant’s duration of study in Canada. 
  3. Generally, the PGWP will be approximately the same duration as the applicant’s period of study, up to a maximum of three years.
  4. As long as more than 50% of your program of study is conducted via in-person classes, you are eligible for a PGWP equal to the duration of your program of study.
  5. If you studied part-time, or did accelerated studies, the length of your PGWP will be the length of your program of study, if taken full-time.

Who is eligible for a PGWP?

In order to be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), a foreign national must be at least 18 years old and have studied full-time in Canada in a program of at least 8 months. The study program must have been completed at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in one of the following types of programs listed below. As well, in order to apply for the work permit, a foreign national must apply within 180 days of the completion of their study program.

If an applicant is applying from within Canada, they must have valid status at the time of application. If their study permit has expired or will expire they may apply for status as a visitor before applying for the PGWP. However, applicants who apply for a PGWP prior to the expiration of their study permit are eligible to begin working full time immediately, while their application is processing. Applicants may apply for a PGWP from overseas.

ELIGIBLE LEVELS OF STUDY

The following levels of study and programs are eligible for PGWPs:

  • 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 (only applies to certain 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 only for those enrolled in study programs leading to a degree as authorized by the province.

How long does it take to get a PGWP?

A PGWP can take anywhere from 80 to 180 days to process. While waiting for your PGWP, you are free to work in Canada provided you applied prior to the expiry date of your student permit

You have 180 days to apply for your PGWP from the date you completed all the requirements of your program of study. 

If you leave Canada after your studies have been completed, you can now apply for a PGWP from overseas. Previously post-graduate work permit applications needed to be submitted exclusively from within Canada. If a PGWP application is submitted from outside of Canada, additional documentation may be requested depending on the visa office that will process the application.

Can I apply for a work permit after my PGWP?

There is nothing about a PGWP that prevents you from applying for another work permit later. You are free to apply for both an LMIA or LMIA exempt permit if you are eligible but it might be worth considering applying for Canadian permanent residence given you already have Canadian work experience. 

The following immigration programs have options for candidates with Canadian work experience:

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Can I work after graduation before I apply for my PGWP?

International graduates who apply for a PGWP before the expiry of their study permit are able to begin legally working in Canada. These candidates do not need to hold a Canadian work permit while they await a decision on their application for a PGWP. If your student permit has expired, you may be eligible to restore your status and apply, provided you have only been out of status for less than 90 days. 

How many times can I apply for a PGWP?

You can only apply for a PGWP once. If you are planning on taking another program of study that is a continuation of your first program, or you are considering taking a longer degree program in Canada, you might want to apply for your PGWP strategically. Applying after the longest period of study will grant you a PGWP with longer validity, to a maximum of three years. 

How a PGWP can help you immigrate to Canada

Canada’s Post Graduate Work Program is designed to provide an efficient path for international students in Canada to gain permanent residence status in the country. By bridging Canadian education into meaningful full-time work experience in the country, a candidate is in a great position to apply under the Canadian Express Entry immigration system. Having a Canadian educational credential and work experience ensures that an Express Entry applicant will gain valuable extra points towards their comprehensive ranking system (CRS) score, making them more competitive amongst other applicants for gaining permanent resident status!

 

Provincial nominee programs (PNPs), or if you studied in Quebec, the Quebec Experience Class program, are also immigration categories that favour candidates with a Canadian educational credential and work experience. 

 

Let the lawyers and legal professionals at the Canadim Law Firm help you take the guesswork out of your Canadian immigration plans. Contact us or complete a free online assessment to get started. 

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