THE COVID-19 pandemic imposed unprecedented challenge to Canada’s education landscape. Nevertheless, countless oversea students managed to complete their programs online in the past year. Considering the confusion that may arise from this particular time when students apply for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) delivered policy adjustments to the program’s requirements.
IRCC’s latest program delivery update on PGWP consists of 2 changes:
- Within 180 days of applying for PGWP, graduates outside of Canada are not required to hold or have held a valid study permit; and
- Only the time applicants spent studying online after receiving their study permit will be considered into the duration of their PGWP.
Note that the minimum study program length requirement for a PGWP is 8 months. If a student’s study only lasted 7 months after their study permit is received, then they do not qualify for a PGWP. Therefore, students are recommended to apply for study permits before their program starts.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, IRCC has been devising a series of PGWP-related temporary policies that serves the benefits of international students:
- On March 14, all post-secondary institutions in Canada switched to online teaching, followed by IRCC’s announcement that such adjustment will not affect PGWP applications;
- On April 7, IRCC states that online courses taken outside of Canada will not affect PGWP application under certain conditions (not exceeding 50% of the program’s total length);
- On May 14, IRCC elucidated that online course taken outside of Canada before December 31, 2020 will not affect PGWP application;
- On August 26, the deadline for online teaching extends to April 30, 2021, PGWP application remains unaffected;
- On January 27, 2021, international graduates whose work permits have expired or will soon expire are eligible for an 18-months Open Work Permit (OWP); and
- On February 12, the deadline for online teaching extends to December 31, 2021.
The policies changes conducted by IRCC on PGWP during the pandemic were dedicated to grant international students with more opportunities, hence encouraging their settlement and immigration into Canada. On the basis of the previously stated new policies, a PGWP applicant must also satisfy the following criteria:
- Graduated from a Designated Learning Institute (DLI) that has been approved by IRCC for PGWP eligibility;
- Obtain a diploma or degree certificate from a program that lasts no less than 8 months (2 semesters); and
- Maintain a full-time status during the program (may study part-time for the last semester).
International students in Canada can receive PGWPs for up to 3 years after graduation. PGWP up to 3 years may be issued to an individual who has studied in programs of 2 years or more, 1800 hours of vocational courses in Quebec, 16-months master’s program, or the combined sum of two study programs of no less than 8 months (with an interim of no more than 2 years). In situations where the applicant’s program ranges between 8 months and two year, or vocational programs in Quebec from 900 to 1800 hours, a PGWP equivalent to the length of the program may be given.