Post-Graduation Work Permits allow international graduates of Canadian institutions to work after graduation.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions concerning Post-Graduation Work Permits for International Students in Canada.

A 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 90 days of when it was confirmed that you completed your program; and
  • have a valid study permit when you apply for the work permit.

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. A graduate of a Canadian college or university must apply for a PGWP if he or she intends 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.

At the time of application, a candidate must hold a valid study permit. Additionally, the application must be submitted within 90 days of receiving written confirmation that the candidate has completed his or her studies. In order to remain legally in Canada, a graduate should update his or status with IRCC within 90 days of finishing the study program.

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

To consult the current processing time estimate, click here. Select the option Temporary application and then "Work permit extension - new employer".

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. Documents required for a PGWP application include his or her passport or travel document, payment or proof of payment, and proof of successful completion of a study program. Further documents that may be required, depending on the applicant’s individual situation.

 The PGWP remains valid if the holder leaves Canada. Holders of a PGWP can return to Canada and work at any time as long as the PGWP is valid.

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.

 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. Permits for accompanying family members are usually issued for the same length of time as the PGWP, or for the duration of validity of the candidate’s passport, whichever expires first.

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 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 90 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.

Contact us with any questions about the Post-Graduation Work Permit, and learn how you can stay and work in Canada once your studies are complete.

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