On February 14, 2019 Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced new, relaxed guidelines for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP).
By way of background, the PGWP program allows foreign students who have graduated from eligible Canadian institutions to obtain an Open Work Permit for up to three (3) years. Students who use the program can, in turn, gain additional points based on their Canadian work experience, when they apply for permanent residence through the Express Entry selection program. The changes make it easier for students to stay in Canada and obtain work permits after graduation and in turn supports their subsequent Application for Permanent Residence.
There are four key changes to the updated PGWP program:
1. Deadline to apply ~ The deadline to apply for the PGWP has been extended to six (6) months from the date the educational institute indicates that the foreign student has met the requirements for completion of his or her program of study, up from 90 days. Calculation of the 180 days begins on either the date the student’s final marks are issued or from the date the student receives a formal written notification of program completion, whichever is earlier.
2. Valid Study Permit ~Foreign nationals will no longer be required to hold a valid Study Permit when they apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit; however, the Study Permit must be valid at some point during the 180-day period.
3. Pre-February 14, 2019 Applications ~ The old guidelines will continue to apply. However, a foreign student who had his or her application rejected under the old guidelines can resubmit under the new guidelines, if still eligible.
4. Post-February 14, 2019 Applications ~ The new guidelines will apply to applications submitted on or after February 14, 2019.
The PGWP is already a generous program with major benefits. For instance, graduates who apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, before the expiry of their Study Permit are typically able to work full-time without a Work Permit while waiting for a decision on their application. In addition, spouses and common-law partners of Post-Graduation Work Permit holders can apply for an Open Work Permit which means that they can work for almost any employer at any location in Canada. We expect that the relaxed guidelines will further encourage skilled students and their families to remain in the country and gain Canadian work experience. The existing benefits, the Express Entry ‘leg up’ and the relaxed guidelines also demonstrate the federal government’s continued confidence that recent graduates make good immigrants.
This update has been compiled with the latest available information for the general information of Border Law clients and other interested parties. This Update is not comprehensive and should not be relied upon without appropriate legal advice.