The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) allows students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Skilled Canadian work experience in National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0 or skill level A or B that is gained through the PGWPP helps graduates qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian experience class within Express Entry.
Post-graduation work permits are exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessments. They are considered open and coded as C43.
With a post-graduation work permit, as with all open work permits, graduates can
- work full time
- work part time
- be self-employed
The supporting regulatory framework for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is subparagraph 205(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Regulations.
Post-graduation work permit validity
A post-graduation work permit may be issued based on the length of the study program for a minimum of 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years.
When determining the length of a post-graduation work permit, officers may consider the duration of the program of study in Canada and confirm it with supporting documents. Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, scheduled winter and summer breaks) should be included in the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.
Determining the length of the post-graduation work permit
The validity period of the post-graduation work permit may not go beyond the applicant’s passport validity date. If the applicant’s passport expires before the validity period of the post-graduation work permit, the officer should note this reason in the “Notes” box, in the Global Case Management System. The post-graduation work permit applicant then has to apply for a work permit extension upon the renewal of their passport to receive the full validity of their post-graduation work permit.
Post-graduation work permits can be extended only when the length of the permit could not be provided at the time of the application, due to the expiry date of the applicant’s passport.
Note: If the officer notes that the duration of studies was shorter than the duration of the program, as indicated in the letter confirming the completion of the program of study, and the program was not completed in an accelerated form, the post‑graduation work permit may be issued in accordance with the duration of studies. For example, if the applicant undertook classes for a period of 12 months, not in an accelerated form, but their degree notes that it is a 2‑year degree, the post-graduation work permit may be issued for 12 months, in accordance with the duration of their studies.
If a student completes their studies in less time than the normal length of the program (that is, they have accelerated their studies), the post-graduation work permit should be assessed on the length of the program of study.
For example, if the student is enrolled in a program of study that is normally 1 year in duration, but the student completes the requirements for the program of study within 8 months, they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit that is valid for 1 year.
Applicants impacted by a designated learning institution (DLI) strike
Applicants who are impacted by a strike affecting a DLI in Canada are considered to be studying continually full time during the strike period. The period of time in which the students are not attending class due to a school strike does not impact their eligibility under the PGWPP. Applicants impacted by a school strike must meet all other eligibility requirements under the PGWPP.
Students must be continually studying 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 eligible for the PGWPP.
Distance learning can be considered online learning. Students who complete a program of study exclusively by distance learning (outside or within Canada) are not eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
Officers should use the following guidelines to assess an applicant’s post-graduation work permit eligibility when the applicant has taken distance learning in Canada at an eligible DLI:
- If more than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, the program may reasonably be considered a distance-learning program, and the applicant is ineligible for a post-graduation work permit.
- If less than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, a post-graduation work permit may be issued. The validity should be based on the length of the program, as confirmed by the eligible DLI, including credits earned from both in-class and distance-learning courses.
Note: If the distance-learning courses are completed outside Canada, they must be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.
Transfers between educational institutions
Transfers between educational institutions
In cases where a student has transferred between eligible Canadian DLIs, the combined length of study must be at least 8 months to qualify for a post-graduation work permit.
In cases where a student graduated from an eligible DLI after having transferred from an ineligible institution, only time spent at the eligible DLI counts as eligible for post-graduation work permit issuance. Time spent at the eligible institution must be at least 8 months.
Programs with an overseas component
If a student completes a program of study in Canada that has an overseas component, they are eligible for the PGWPP, as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential from an eligible DLI. However, the length of the post-graduation work permit is based on the length of time they studied in Canada. Officers may contact the DLI to confirm that the studies have taken place in Canada.
Making an application
Applicants must apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) within 180 days of obtaining written confirmation, such as an official letter or transcript, from the designated learning institution (DLI) indicating that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study.
Calculation of the 180 days begins the day the student’s final marks are issued or the day formal written notification of program completion is received, whichever comes first. The onus is on the applicant to provide proof of the date the transcript is received. Officers may also confirm this date with the DLI.
Applicants may apply for a PGWP from within Canada if their study permit is still valid or they meet one of the other requirements of section R199.
Applicants whose study permit becomes invalid or expires before they apply for a PGWP are not eligible to work without a permit under paragraph R186(w) and must either
- leave Canada and apply for a PGWP from overseas or
- apply to restore their status as a student by applying for a PGWP with the correct fees ($255) and paying the fees to restore their status as a student ($350)
Note: Applicants may submit an application “outside” of Canada while they physically remain in Canada. They must maintain their status as a visitor until they receive the actual work permit. However, they are not eligible to work while waiting for a decision on their PGWP application as per paragraph R186(w).
The application package for a PGWP can be obtained through the IRCC website:
All in-Canada visitor extension, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exceptions. See the list of programs that are exempt from the in-Canada mandatory electronic application requirement.
Work authorization after submitting a post-graduation work permit application
As per paragraph R186(w), graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a post-graduation work permit, before the expiry of their study permit are eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application if all of the following apply:
- They are or were the holders of a valid study permit at the time of the post-graduation work permit application.
- They have completed their program of study.
- They met the requirements for working off campus without a work permit under paragraph R186(v) (that is, they were a full-time student enrolled at a DLI in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program of at least 8 months in duration that led to a degree, diploma or certificate).
- They did not exceed the allowable hours of work under paragraph R186(v).
Applicants remain eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application even after leaving and re-entering Canada.
Applicants must stop working as soon as they are notified by IRCC (for example, via their MyAccount, by email or by mailed letter) that their application for a work permit is refused.
Interim proof of work – Acknowledgement of receipt
Upon receipt of an online work permit application, a generic temporary resident acknowledgement of receipt (TR Acknowledgement of Receipt) is sent automatically by the Global Case Management System (GCMS). As of February 2021, after sending the TR Acknowledgement of Receipt, GCMS then validates a specific set of rules, and if all rules exist, a second letter (IMM 0127 E – WP-EXT for PGWP) indicating the authorization to work under paragraph R186(w) is sent automatically.
Officers should understand that the validity date of the letter in no way overrides the authority of paragraph R186(w), which allows foreign nationals who meet the requirements to continue working until a final decision is made on their work permit application.
The letter has a 120-day validity from the date of receipt, which corresponds with IRCC’s service standard for in-Canada applications. Historically, IRCC meets its service standard more than 90% of the time; therefore, only a few applicants will require a new letter. Most should receive a decision before the 120 days have expired.
120 days have passed and no decision has been rendered
In cases where the 120 days have passed and no decision has been rendered, the applicant may request continued proof of authorization to work using the IRCC web form.
Client Support Centre (CSC) agents can follow their standard procedures to respond.
Requests for supporting documents that may place the processing time beyond 120 days
If the IMM 0127 E – WP-EXT for PGWP was previously sent (exists in Outgoing Correspondence View tab) and the processing officer determines that further documentation is required, in the Item Requested section, the officer should select “Other” and add the following text:
Your authorization to work is continued under paragraph 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations for an additional 120 days from the date of this letter or until a final decision is made, whichever comes first.
Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders
Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders may be eligible to apply for an open work permit under the C41 exemption for (spouses and common-law partners of skilled workers)
Students who have completed their program of study
Students who have completed their program of study are allowed to work (under paragraph 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations [IRPR]) while they are waiting for a decision on their post-graduation work permit application, provided they meet all of the following criteria:
- they are or were holders of a valid study permit at the time of the post-graduation work permit application
- they were a full-time student enrolled at a DLI in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program
- they were authorized to work off-campus without a work permit
Post-graduation work permit eligibility requirements
Applicants can receive only 1 post-graduation work permit in their lifetime.
To obtain a post-graduation work permit, the applicant must currently hold valid temporary status or have left Canada. They must have graduated from an eligible designated learning institution (DLI). They must also submit clear evidence that they meet all of the following criteria:
- They have completed an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible institution in Canada that is at least 8 months in duration leading to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- They have maintained full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the program or programs of study they have completed and submitted as part of their post-graduation work permit application. Exceptions can be made only for the following:
- They have received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that they have met the requirements to complete their program of study.
Note: The transcript and official letter must be included in a post-graduation work permit application.
Within 180 days of the date of applying for the post-graduation work permit, applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:
- They hold a valid study permit.
- They held a study permit.
- They were authorized to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit under paragraphs 188(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.