What You Should Know About Post Graduation Work Permit

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My friend asked me if I could assist an international student from India looking to get some information about the work permit. When I agreed to talk to this student, I had no idea what a critical situation this student was facing.

The student, Anita from Chennai, had completed a program in HR in a well-known college in the Greater Toronto Area, on the west. She had graduated, had obtained her Post Graduation Work Permit, and was gainfully employed.

The problem? The current employer, who had agreed to support her to get her work permit extended, was no longer inclined to do so. Though she has applied for immigration under Express Entry, she was nowhere close to the average CRS (Comprehensive Ranking System ) score prevailing. Since her PGWP was expiring in about a month, she had to apply for an extension. To do this, she needed her employer to get a labour market impact assessment. Her current employer, who had agreed to do an LMIA, was no longer inclined to do so, leaving her scurrying to find solutions to overcome her situation.

This is not a very uncommon situation that international students find themselves in. They are more likely to be in a spot like this if they have not done their homework thoroughly before starting their education in Canada. Sometimes, students are so caught up with the application process and study permits that the thought of considering what happens after they graduate in Canada slips their minds. International student counsellors in colleges could provide insights into this. Still, if one is unlucky to be rushed through the process, then the whole dream of immigrating permanently to Canada can get messy.

How to ensure that I get a PGWP?r you graduate from a  Canadian school so you can avoid such a situation.

Photo by Sajjad Hussain M from Burst

It is crucial to consider the many scenarios that will play out after you graduate from a  Canadian school so you can avoid such a situation.

  1. The program’s duration – significant as this determines the length of the work permit that you will receive after you graduate.
  2. Whether the chosen education institution is recognized by the government and is on the list of Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs)
  3. How much of the program can be completed off-campus
  4. What percentage of online courses can they take without affecting their PGWP eligibility criteria.

What is a post graduation work permit?

One of the advantages of completing post-secondary education in Canada is that it sets you up for being a successful applicant for immigration. Post Graduation work permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that successful graduates from Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs) can obtain after graduating from their program.  A PGWP enables international students to transition from study permit to temporary resident status and, finally, after getting sufficient points, to permanent residency.

Post Graduation Work Permit Program is crucial because it permits international students to work in Canada and score points essential to strengthen their candidature for immigration.

This opportunity to gain extra points toward CRS through Canadian work experience makes studying in Canada very attractive to many students, especially in India. 

Who can apply for a PGWP

  • Students who have completed their full-time studies in an academic, vocational or professional program are longer than eight months.
  • The program should be from a DLI.
  • Should have continuously studied full time with a minimum of 9 credits per semester. This nine-credit condition is relaxed for the final semester.
  • Must have passed the program of study and graduated.
  • Should have received a notification from the DLI that they can obtain the degree, diploma or certificate. A student would need a graduation letter and an official transcript from the educational institutions to apply.
  • Should have a valid study permit at the time of applying for a PGWP.

When should you apply for a PGWP?

Though applications can be made up to 180 days after receiving written confirmation about program completion, it is best not to wait till then. Apply within 90 days of receiving the official notification.

A study permit expires 90 days after completion of a program, irrespective of the expiry date printed on it. International graduates will be on something called an “Implied status” until they receive a  PGWP, which allows them to work full time, provided they have applied within 90 days of completing the program. 

Does a PGWP expire?

Yes, it does. Generally, the length of the program determines the duration of a PGWP. Its validity of a PGWP ranges from eight months to three years. However, immigration officers can interpret each student’s program duration differently, impacting a PGWP that an individual student gets. A PGWP is issued only once in a student’s lifetime, irrespective of how many programs the student might take.

What happens if a PGWP expires?

If your original PGWP was for less than three years, you could ask for an extension. The results of your application depend on the LMIA.

While on a PGWP, look for a job that will help you gain experience in your area of study, and that can lead to a permanent one. Look for an employer who is willing to do an LMIA if required.

Who is not eligible for a PGWP?

The following make a student ineligible for PGWP:

  • If the program was six months or less
  • If the entire program was completed online inside or outside of Canada.

Due to COVID 19 pandemic related travel restrictions, the government has allowed international students to take up a few online courses while living in their home country. Check with your institution to make sure how many credits you can acquire through online study and ensure that your online studying does not impact your eligibility to obtain a PGWP at a later stage.

In addition to the above two, the following conditions make a student ineligible for a PGWP.

  • Students who have obtained Canadian government scholarship, as well as a few other scholarships. Some of these are Canadian Commonwealth, CIDA, DFAIT  and the Canada-Chile or Canada-China scholarship.
  • A student who obtained Fulbright or Killam Fellowships is not eligible for a PGWP, nor are they on an exchange program.
  • A part-time student or a student who took time off without permission from their universities or colleges, a student who has not studied continuously full time. A student of a Canada-based but a non-Canadian institution.
  • Any violations of the study permit conditions.
  • A student of English as a second language or French as a second language course or program.
  • A program completed at a private career college may not be recognized.

Hopefully, now you have a good understanding of PGWP, which affects its length and the eligibility criteria. When you accept an offer from a  recognized Canadian education institution, tick out all points to ensure that you do not get into Anita’s shoes. All the best!