Study permits: Post Graduation Work Permit Program

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the IRCC website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Skilled Canadian work experience gained through the PGWPP helps graduates qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian experience class (CEC).

Employers seeking to employ open work permit holders are exempt from the requirement to first obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada. The open work permits issued to the graduates in line with the PGWPP requirements are coded with the LMIA exemption code C43.

A work permit under the PGWPP may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years. A post-graduation work permit cannot be valid for longer than the student’s study program, which must be a minimum of eight months in length.

Note: Graduates may submit their post-graduation work permit application online. Foreign nationals who are eligible to apply for a work permit at a port of entry (POE) may also apply for a post-graduation work permit through that channel.

Note: Paragraph 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations allows students who have completed their program of study to work while they are waiting for a decision on their work permit application as long as they were a full-time student enrolled at a designated learning institution in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program, and they did not exceed the allowable hours of work.

Who is eligible to participate?

To obtain a work permit under the PGWPP, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit;
  • have continuously studied full time in Canada (i.e., studies must have taken place at a Canadian educational institution) and have completed a program of study that is at least eight months in duration;
  • have completed and passed the program of study and received a written notification from the educational institution indicating that they are eligible to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate. The educational institution must be one of the following:
    • 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) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP), or
    • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees but only if the student is enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree as authorized by the province and not in all programs of study offered by the private institution.

Applicants must apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation (for example, a transcript or an official letter) from the educational institution indicating that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study. Calculation of the 90 days begins the day when the student’s final marks are issued or when formal written notification of program completion is received, whichever comes first.

Restrictions

Students are not eligible to be issued a work permit under the PGWPP if the program of study is less than eight months or if they have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit.

Students are also not eligible if they:

  • received funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD);
  • participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program funded by DFATD;
  • participated in an apprenticeship program;
  • obtained the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada–Chile;
  • participated in the Canada–Chile Scholars Exchanges Program;
  • participated in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program;
  • participated in and completed a distance learning program, either abroad or in Canada; or completed a program of study granted by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada, regardless of their length of stay in Canada.

Other considerations

Accelerated programs

If the student is enrolled in a program of study that is normally eight months in duration but the student completes the requirements for the program of study within six months, they may be eligible for PGWPP.

Given that the program of study must be at least eight months in duration and not that the student must have been studying for at least eight months, the student may to be eligible for a post-graduation work permit valid for eight months.

Distance learning

Students who complete a program of study by distance learning (from outside or inside Canada) are not eligible for the PGWPP.

Educational programs with an overseas component

If a student completes a program of study that has, as part of the program, an overseas component, they will be eligible for this program as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential from an eligible institution.

Flight instructors

Flight instructors who meet either of the following criteria may be issued work permits under the PGWPP. In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  • have completed a flight training course at a Canadian training centre and have obtained a Canadian commercial pilot’s licence; and
  • have obtained, or be in the process of obtaining, an instructor’s rating and have received an offer of employment as a flight instructor from a flight training centre.

Applicants providing either of the above documents may be issued a post-graduation work permit valid for three years if the flight-training course was at least two years. Applicants whose course of study is between eight months and two years will be issued a post-graduation work permit valid for the length of the program. Flight training courses under eight months do not qualify a student for a post-graduation work permit. For additional details on flight schools regulated by Transport Canada, refer to the Department's website.

Final academic session

Students must have continuously studied full time in Canada. However, if a student meets all the eligibility requirements, with the exception of full time status during their final academic session, they are still considered to be eligible for this program.

Foreign nationals are able to work part-time or be self-employed under this type of work permit.

Transfers between educational institutions

In cases where a student has transferred between designated learning institutions, the combined length of study must be at least eight months.

In cases where a student graduated from an eligible institution, after having transferred from an ineligible institution, only time spent in the eligible institution will be counted. Once again, time spent in the eligible institution must be at least eight months.

  • Example 1: A student attends a foreign post-secondary institution and transfers to an accredited provincial or territorial post-secondary institution in Canada in order to complete their studies. Under this scenario, if the qualifying educational credential is issued at an institution outside of Canada, they would not qualify for a post-graduation Work Permit. However, if they did receive their educational credential from a recognized Canadian educational/training institution, they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit only for the length of time they studied in Canada.
  • Example 2: A student attends their first year at a private post-secondary educational institution in Canada not recognized under this program but then transfers to a recognized post-secondary institution. Under this scenario they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit but only for the length of time they studied at the designated post-secondary institution.
  • Example 3: A student completes a program of study at a designated learning institution and transfers these credits to another designated learning institution. Under this scenario, they must submit a letter of acceptance from the second institution indicating that the credits are accepted to complete the program at the second institution.

Work permit issuance and validity

Issuance

Work permits issued under the PGWPP are LMIA exempt, may be “open” and may be valid for up to three years, depending on the duration of the program of study. They are normally issued by the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V). However, by virtue of R197 and R198, work permits under the PGWPP may also be issued at POEs or by visa offices overseas. For administrative purposes, it is more facilitative to refer clients to apply online or on paper to the CPC-V.

When work permits are being issued by POEs or visa offices overseas, officers should ensure that the appropriate fields and screens in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) and in the Field Operations Support System (FOSS) are populated.

Validity

Work permits issued under the PGWPP may be valid for up to three years.

Examples:

  • If the program of study is eight months (minimum duration), then the duration of the work permit should be eight months.
  • If the program of study is at least eight months but less than two years, then the duration of the work permit should coincide with the duration of the program of study.
  • If the program of study is at least two years, then the duration of the work permit should be three years.
  • If students who obtained a one-year graduate degree or diploma from an eligible institution in Canada after having obtained, within the prior two years, another diploma or degree from an eligible institution in Canada, then the duration of the work permit may be up to 3 three years.

Application for a temporary resident visa from holders of post-graduation work permits

It is common for students who have completed their studies and are holders of post-graduation work permits, to wish to return to their home countries for a visit prior to seeking or starting employment in Canada. These students may need to apply for a temporary resident visa (TRV) to enable a return to Canada. Consideration should be given to issuance of a long-term, multiple-entry TRV that would cover the validity period of the post-graduation work permit plus a 90-day bridging period. The student has already demonstrated bona fides, through successful studies in Canada and receipt of the post-graduation work permit. Whether the student has obtained a job offer or started a job search for the post-graduation work period should not be the only determining factor for issuance of the TRV.

Work permit access for graduates of Quebec institutions

The Canada-Quebec Memorandum of Understanding on certain temporary foreign workers and international graduates is available on CIC’s website.

The PGWPP was expanded to include international students who have graduated from:

  • approved vocational and professional programs of eight months or longer at recognized public and private secondary institutions in Quebec;
  • approved vocational and professional programs of eight months or longer at recognized private post-secondary institutions in Quebec.

In Quebec, vocational and professional training programs can be delivered at the secondary or post-secondary level. Within Quebec’s vocational and professional training system, the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) (Department of Education, Recreation and Sports) issues several types of credentials, depending on the program and level of studies. The eligible credentials are:

  • Public or private secondary schools
    • Diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) (Diploma in Vocational Studies)
    • Attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP) (Attestation of Vocational Specialization)
  • Private post-secondary institutions
    • Diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC) (Diploma in College Studies)
    • Attestation d’études collégiales (AEC) (Attestation of College Studies)

To be eligible for a work permit, the completed DEP, ASP, DEC, AEC program of study must be a minimum of eight months in duration or 900 hours in length. Officers should note the credential may only be available in French.

Procedures

All of the general eligibility criteria, conditions of the work permit and processing procedures for the PGWPP apply in conjunction with the following guidelines:

Eligible applicants

Applicants wishing to obtain a work permit under the expanded program guidelines must meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Must have attended and completed a fulltime vocational or professional training program in a eligible institution in Quebec (See Eligible institutions for details);
  • Must have been in a program of study that was a minimum of 900 hours in length (equivalent to eight months);
  • Must have included the credential, or an official attestation of program completion, or official transcript from a Quebec school board or private institution recognized by MELS in support of the work permit application;
  • Must have furnished an official letter from the institution outlining the duration of the program of study (in hours or months) and the program code to facilitate the processing and issuance of work permits, and to ensure accurate duration of work authorization;
  • Must hold a valid study permit or be authorized to study without a study permit under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Regulations, at the time of application;
  • Must be 18 years of age or older at the time of application; and
  • Must meet all other requirements under the IRPA and the Regulations.

Eligible institutions

Public or private secondary schools

Private, post-secondary schools

  • Consult sections Établissements privés subventionnés and Établissements privés sous permis of the list of authorized program of study by institution.
  • This website operated by the MELS and is available in French only.
  • It can be used to validate schools, programs, length in hours, and resulting credential.

Eligible applicants who have changed institutions during their training program must have a combined total of at least 900 hours (equivalent to eight months) of courses at eligible institutions located in Quebec.

Restrictions

The following graduates are not eligible for a work permit under this expansion of the PGWPP:

  • those who undertook distance learning programs;
  • those who have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit; and
  • all other standard restrictions applicable to the PGWPP.

Spouses or common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders

Note: If you are a holder of an open work permit (e.g., Post-Graduation Work Permit, Working Holiday, etc.), your spouse or common-law partner, applying for the C41 exemption, will need to attach a copy of your work permit to his or her application for an open work permit. Your spouse or common-law partner will also need to provide information about your employment by attaching supporting documents including:

  • a letter from your current employer confirming employment or a copy of your employment offer or contract; and
  • a copy of one of your payslips.
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