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10 Facts about Canada's Post-Graduation Work Permit for International Students

Vimal Sivakumar - 17 May, 2023

Work in canada
Work in canada

The following list will break down 10 facts that all international students should know about Canada's Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

1. The PGWP can help with attaining permanent residence in Canada

The work experience gained in Canada on a PGWP can help international student graduates become permanent residents in this country, as any of Canada's immigration pathways directly reward candidates with such experience. 

PGWP holders also typically require one year of Canadian work experience (in a job with a National Occupation Classification (NOC) code of 0, A or B) to be eligible for permanent resident status in Canada. 

2. PGWP eligibility requires full-time student status

Only full-time international student graduates are eligible for a PGWP. This means that the applicant must "have held full-time student status for every academic session of the program (or programs of study completed and included as part of your post-graduation work permit application."

Note: Canada has waived this requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic for some international students. Exemptions may apply to those who have begun or will begin a program between spring 2020 and summer 2022, or those whose program was already in progress in March 2020.

Additional PGWP eligibility criteria can be found here.

3. PGWPs can not be renewed, each applicant can only apply once

Your PGWP can be extended if the permit's length was limited due to the expiry date of your passport, but it cannot be renewed. In this case, applicants must apply for a work permit extension when their passport is renewed to receive the full validity period for a PGWP. 

PGWPs can only be applied for once by any international student graduate. Returning to school does not grant a student the ability to apply for a subsequent permit if they complete a different eligible program. 

Note: Full-time study completed while working on a PGWP will not count towards the work experience requirements for Canadian immigration 

4. PGWPs can be extended depending on work permit eligibility

International student graduates who are eligible for other work permits than the PGWP can attain maintained status to continue working in Canada if they apply for another type of work permit before their PGWP expires. 

5. PGWPs can be impacted by Maintained Status  

International students, who are naturally given temporary resident status in Canada, must typically leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay. This is unless they apply to extend their authorized stay prior to its natural expiry date. Doing this will allow an international student to remain in Canada with maintained legal status until a decision is made on their PGWP application.

6. You may be able to work full-time as your PGWP is processed

International student graduates who apply for a PGWP before the expiry of their study permit can work full-time while their application is processed if:

More information can be found here

7. Keep study permit validity in mind when considering a PGWP

Study permits expire 90 days after you complete your program and you have 180 days to apply for a PGWP once you obtain proof of graduation (that all requirements for completing your program have been met).

To work in Canada if your study permit becomes invalid/expires before applying for a PGWP, you must:

8. You may still be able to get a PGWP with an expired study permit

There are two primary ways to accomplish this. 

9. PGWP applicants can ignore the letter regarding a 120-day validity period to work while a decision is being made

PGWP applicants will receive an auto-generated letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) telling them they have 120 days to keep working while a decision is being made on their application. This letter can be ignored, and applicants must simply just request proof of authorization to work using the IRCC web form if 120 days have passed without a decision.

10. The spouse or partner of a PGWP holder may be eligible for a work permit

If a PGWP holder meets the following three criteria, their spouse and/or common-law partner can explore the possibility of obtaining a work permit under the C41 exemption. 

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