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.
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 180 days of when it was confirmed that you completed your program; and
- have held a valid study permit at some point during the 180 days before applying.
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.
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.
Additionally, the application must be submitted within 180 days of receiving written confirmation that the candidate has completed his or her studies.
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.
Individuals can only receive one PGWP no matter how many Canadian diplomas, degrees or certificates they obtain.
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.
Accompanying family members must submit an application for an appropriate permit in order to remain in Canada with the holder of the PGWP.
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.
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.
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.