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Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) - New changes

A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) offers a golden opportunity for international students in Canada to gain valuable Canadian work experience and explore pathways to permanent residence. However, navigating the eligibility requirements and application process can be challenging. This guide provides crucial information and tips on securing a PGWP, understanding its benefits and limitations, and exploring alternatives if you find yourself ineligible.

Eligibility Criteria for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

To be eligible for a PGWP, you must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Completion of a full-time study program of at least 8 months at a designated learning institution in Canada.

  • Maintenance of a valid study permit throughout your educational program.

  • Application submission within 180 days of receiving your final marks or official letter of completion.

  • Possession of a valid passport or travel document.

  • Completion of over 50% of your program in person in Canada.

How to Apply for a PGWP

Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigating the application process:

  1. Verify Your Eligibility: Ensure you meet all the criteria listed above.

  2. Gather Required Documents: This includes your passport, final transcripts, and an official letter from your institution.

  3. Choose Your Application Process: Whether you're applying from within Canada or abroad, different processes apply. Ensure you follow the correct procedure for your situation.

Student holding his post graduation work permit (PGWP). Call Ansari Immigration in Vancouver if you have questions about PGWP

Understanding the Validity of Your PGWP

The validity period of a PGWP varies based on the length of your study program, up to a maximum of three years. Notably, starting from February 15, 2024, graduates from master's programs of less than two years may be eligible for a three-year PGWP, reflecting Canada's commitment to attracting international talent.

After Receiving Your PGWP

Upon receiving your PGWP, take the following steps to maximize your post-graduation experience in Canada:

Alternatives to PGWP

If you're not eligible for a PGWP, don't lose hope. Explore other work permit or visa options that might suit your circumstances. Consulting with an immigration advisor can provide personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Access Your Letter of Completion

Obtaining your Letter of Completion is a crucial step in transitioning from a student to the next phase of your professional or academic journey. This document serves as official proof that you have met all program requirements, making it especially significant for graduates applying for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada.

Understanding Your Letter of Completion

Depending on your faculty or program, the process to receive your Letter of Completion may vary. Some students might need to apply for graduation first, while others may find their letter issued automatically or need to submit a request. Typically, your Letter of Completion becomes available shortly after you meet your last program requirement—be it receiving your final grade or submitting your thesis. For instance, if your final exam is in April, expect your letter by early May.

Computer showing post graduation work permit (PGWP). Call Ansari Immigration in Vancouver if you have questions about PGWP

Transcripts and PGWP Application

For your PGWP application, you don't need to wait for a final transcript showing your degree is conferred. Ensure your transcript includes your final grades. A PDF version of your transcript is acceptable.

Applying for the PGWP

You must apply for the PGWP within 90 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available. If your study permit is set to expire before you receive your Letter of Completion or within this 90-day window, consider applying for an extension to maintain your status in Canada.

FAQs on Working While Applying for the PGWP

Working Before You Apply

If eligible, you may work up to 20 hours per week off-campus or full-time on-campus until your Letter of Completion is available. However, from the day after it becomes available, you must cease working until your PGWP application is submitted and approved under specific conditions.

Immediate Actions After Letter of Completion

Once your program requirements are fulfilled, diligently check daily if your Letter of Completion is available. Save a copy upon first access to avoid any complications with your work eligibility or PGWP application.

Working after you’ve applied for the PGWP

You are allowed to work full-time while your PGWP application is being processed, provided certain conditions are met:

  • You have applied for your PGWP within 90 days of receiving your program completion notification.

  • Your study permit remains valid.

  • You were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while studying.

Ensuring you meet these criteria is essential for a seamless transition from student to workforce participant.

Student holding his post graduation work permit (PGWP). Call Ansari Immigration in Vancouver if you have questions about PGWP

What are the alternatives if you are not eligible for a PGWP

If you are not eligible for a PGWP, or if your PGWP expires and you are not able to extend it, you may still have other options to stay and work in Canada, such as:

  • Applying for another type of work permit, such as an employer-specific work permit, a bridging open work permit, or an International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit, if you meet the eligibility criteria and have a valid job offer or invitation.

  • Applying for permanent residence, if you meet the eligibility criteria and have enough points or nominations for programs such as the Express Entry system, the PNP, or the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP).

  • Applying for a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA), if you want to stay in Canada temporarily for tourism, family, or business purposes, and do not intend to work or study in Canada.

  • Leaving Canada and returning to your home country or another destination, if you have no other valid status or reason to stay in Canada.

How long does it take to process a PGWP application?

The processing time for PGWP applications can vary, ranging from 15 to 180 days. It's crucial to apply promptly to minimize any potential employment gap. The current application fee is $255 CAD, with additional fees applicable for those needing to extend their stay in Canada.

What is the cost of a PGWP?

What is the difference between a PGWP and an LMIA?

It's important to understand the difference between a PGWP and a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA):

  • The PGWP allows graduates to work for any employer in Canada for a specified period.

  • An LMIA is a document that an employer may need to obtain before hiring a foreign worker, to prove that there is no Canadian available to fill the position.

Both are valuable for different reasons and serve distinct purposes in the context of Canadian employment.

Can I apply for permanent residence with a PGWP?

Yes, you can apply for permanent residence with a PGWP, if you meet the eligibility criteria for various Canadian immigration programs. A PGWP is an open work permit that allows you to work for any employer in Canada, and the work experience you gain while working can help you qualify for permanent residence12. Some of the programs that you can apply for with a PGWP are:

  • Express Entry – This is a system that manages applications for three economic immigration programs: the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) – This is a program that allows provinces and territories to nominate immigrants who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the economic development of their region.

  • Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) – This is a program that helps employers in the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador) to hire foreign workers who want to live and work in the region.

These are some of the main options to apply for permanent residence with a PGWP, but there may be other programs or pathways that suit your situation better.

In conclusion, navigating the path to a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an essential step for international students in Canada, offering a valuable opportunity to gain Canadian work experience and pave the way toward permanent residency. This guide has covered everything from eligibility and application processes to maximizing the benefits of your PGWP and exploring alternatives if needed.

The journey from student to workforce member in Canada is filled with opportunities and challenges. Preparation, understanding your options, and proactive steps are key to success. Remember, securing a PGWP is just the beginning of a promising chapter in your life.

Whether you're gearing up for graduation or contemplating your future in Canada, keep in mind the importance of each step towards securing your PGWP. It's not just about gaining work experience; it's about building a life in one of the most welcoming countries in the world.

To all aspiring and current international students, your resilience and ambition are invaluable. As you embark on this journey, remember that every step is a stride toward realizing your Canadian dream. Here's to your success and a future filled with possibilities!

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