INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: What to do after graduation? (PGWP)

What happens after you graduate from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)?

International students who graduated from an eligible DLI may temporarily stay in Canada to work and obtain Canadian work experience by applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). In turn, this skilled work experience could help graduates qualify for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class under the Express Entry Program. Note, however, that graduating from a DLI does not automatically make you eligible for PGWP. You can check here if your DLI offers PGWP programs.

What is a PGWP?

PGWP is an open work permit that allows holders to work full-time, part-time, or be self-employed. Its validity depends on the length of your study program which must be at least 8 months. If your program is 2 years or more, you could be issued PGWP valid for up to 3 years maximum. If you plan to apply for permanent residency later on, it is recommended that you choose a study program that is at least 2 years so that you can have a longer PGWP validity which would allow you to gain more valuable work experience and therefore improve your score for Express Entry.

How to apply for PGWP?

Aside from graduating from an eligible DLI, you must currently hold a valid temporary status, or you must have left Canada to be eligible to apply. If you are applying within Canada, at the time of your application, your study permit must still be valid, or you must have a valid visitor record because you changed your status to visitor status before your study permit expired. You may also apply if you are on implied status, which means you have already applied to extend or change status before your study permit expired, but the decision is still pending.

From the time you receive your final marks, official school letter, or transcript showing your program completion, you have 180 days to apply for PGWP. Failure to apply within that period could mean losing your opportunity to apply for a PGWP.

COVID-19: Temporary policy changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP)

International Students Inside Canada

If due to COVID-19 your classes have been moved to an online-only format or you had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters, you are still eligible for PGWP. However, as of the fall 2020 semester, you must be studying full-time to be eligible.

International Students Outside Canada

If due to COVID-19, you can’t travel to Canada and you are taking your classes online, you are still eligible for a PGWP as long as you meet all other PGWP requirements AND, with a valid study permit, you must

  • have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

Depending on your school, you can also start your online studies outside Canada before applying for a study permit and yet you may still be eligible for a PGWP.  However, you must keep in mind that in determining the length of your PGWP, only the time spent studying online after your application was received will be counted.

Under this temporary policy, you can complete your studies online outside Canada and all your time studying between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021 will count towards the length of PGWP.


Note that once you have your PGWP, do not waste this permit as applicants can receive only one (1) post-graduation work permit in their lifetime. If you plan on applying for permanent residency, use this permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience that would help you improve your rank in the Express Entry pool. 

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