To work in Canada after you graduate, you need a work permit.
If you want to work in Canada, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) if you graduate from a qualified program at a designated learning institution.
You may have options if you want to work in Canada but are not eligible for a PGWP, or if you don’t want to avail the benefit of a PGWP despite being entitled, or if you want to work beyond the validity of your PGWP. You may be able to get an Open Work Permit or an Employer-Specific Work Permit.
POST-GRADUATION WORK PERMIT (PGWP)
How long is a post-graduation work permit valid?
- If your study program was less than eight months: You aren’t eligible for a PGWP.
- If your study program was more than eight months but less than two years: Your PGWP may be valid for up to the same length as your study program.
- If your study program was two years or more: Your PGWP may be for up to three years.
- If you completed more than one study program: You may be able to get a PGWP that combines the length of
each study program. Each of the study programs must be
- PGWP-eligible and
- At least eight months in length
If your passport expires before your PGWP should
Make sure your passport is valid for the entire length of time you should be eligible. If your passport expires earlier:
- The validity of your PGWP will be the same as the expiry of your passport
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will tell you if you need to extend your PGWP to get the full validity
You can only extend a PGWP if IRCC tells you to. If this happens, you have to apply on paper for an extension of your PGWP so that it’ll be valid for the full length it should be.
You can apply for a PGWP from inside Canada or overseas, as long as you’re eligible.
You have 180 days after you get your final marks to apply for a PGWP. Your study permit must have been valid at some point during these 180 days. Don’t let your status expire while you wait for your marks. If you anticipate that your study permit will expire before you get your transcript, you have two options. You can
- Apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada longer, or
- Leave Canada and apply for your PGWP
You can apply for a PGWP if:
- Your study permit is still valid
- Your visitor record is still valid
- You applied for an extension of your study permit before it expired, and a decision is pending
- You applied for a visitor record before your study permit expired, and a decision is pending
You must also have
- Completed a study program
- at a designated learning institution
- that was at least eight months long and
- that led to a degree, diploma or certificate
- Maintained full-time status as a student in Canada during each semester of your study program
- this doesn’t include your final semester, which can be part-time, or if you took an approved leave from your studies
- Graduated from one of the following
- a public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school, university or CEGEP (in Quebec)
- a private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec
- a private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer than 900 hours, that leads to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP)
- a Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate), but only if your study program leads to a degree authorized by the province
You aren’t eligible for a PGWP if you
- Already received a PGWP
- Studied English or French as a second language
- Took general interest or self-improvement courses
- Participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program funded by Global Affairs Canada
- Had funding from Global Affairs Canada
Note: If you got a Study in Canada scholarship, you’re still eligible for a PGWP.
- Got the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada-Chile
- Participated in the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchanges Program
- Participated in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program
- Completed the majority of a study program by distance learning (online courses, e-learning, or correspondence)
- Graduated from a study program at a non-Canadian institution located in Canada
If you’re in any of these groups, you may be eligible for a PGWP.
If you complete your study program in less time than the authorized duration of the program, you may be eligible for a PGWP valid for the full length. For example, if you complete a 1-year study program in eight months, you may be able to get a PGWP for one year.
If distance learning makes up less than 50% of your study program, you may be eligible for a PGWP. The length of the PGWP would match that of the study program, including both in-class and distance courses. It will not include any period of distance learning courses completed outside Canada. If distance learning makes up more than 50% of your study program, you aren’t eligible for a PGWP.
Taking leave from your studies
You may not be eligible for a PGWP if
- You take an unauthorized leave from your study program and
- If you didn’t meet the conditions of your study permit by taking this leave
There are a few cases where you may be able to take an authorized leave of up to 150 days from your study program and still meet the conditions of your study permit. If so, you may be eligible for a PGWP.
Transfers between schools
- If you transferred between designated learning institutions (DLIs): The combined length of your studies must be at least eight months to be eligible.
- If you transferred from a non-DLI to a DLI: The time at DLI only will be counted. You must spend at least eight months at the DLI to be eligible for a PGWP.
Canadian study programs with an overseas component
If your study program has an overseas component, you may be eligible for a PGWP as long as you earn credits from a Canadian school for it. The PGWP will only be valid for the length of the time you studied in Canada. Flight school graduates
To be eligible for a PGWP, a flight school graduate must additionally meet one of the following:
- Have completed a flight training course at a DLI training centre and now have a Canadian commercial pilot’s license
- Have or be in the process of getting an instructor’s rating and a job offer as a flight instructor from a DLI flight training centre
Graduates of Certain Quebec Schools
Quebec graduates of vocational and professional training programs must meet the conditions listed below.
- Institution: You must have graduated from a recognized public secondary school or a private secondary school or a private post-secondary school
- Degrees, diplomas, and certificates: Degrees, diplomas, and certificates must be issued by the Gouvernement du Québec. These include from public or private secondary schools: “diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP)” (diploma in vocational studies) or “attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP)” (attestation of vocational specialization); from private post-secondary schools: “diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC)” (diploma in college studies) or “attestation d’études collégiales (AEC)” (attestation of college studies)
- Program length: The program you attended and completed must have been full-time, and for at least 8 months if you completed a “diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC)” or an “attestation d’études collégiales (AEC)”. If you completed a “diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP)” or an “attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP)” it must be at least 900 hours.
- Supporting documents: You must include an official letter from the school that confirms the length of the study program (in hours or months) and the program code. You must also provide either an official document that shows you completed your program or an official transcript from a Quebec school board or recognized private school.
What to do if the Study Permit Expires before you apply for PGWP?
If you stay in Canada, and if you don’t change your status to a visitor and let your permit expire, you must apply to restore your status as a student before submitting your PGWP application. You can’t work until both your study permit and PGWP get approved. To restore your student status, you must pay additional fees. You have up to 90 days after your study permit expires to apply for PGWP and restoration of student status. If you don’t submit applications within the 90 days, or if the 90 days have already passed, you must leave Canada
Working while IRCC processes your PGWP application?
You can work full-time until a decision is made on your PGWP application if you
- Had a valid study permit when you submitted your application
- Completed your study program
- Were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while studying, and
- You didn’t work for more hours than you were allowed to work
If these conditions don’t apply to you, you must wait until your work permit arrives to begin your new job. It’s illegal to work in Canada without authorization.
In case your application for PGWP is refused, you must stop working the day IRCC notifies you.
Spouses or Common-law Partners
If your application for a post-graduation work permit is approved, your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for an open work permit.
Get in Touch if you need more information about your options after graduating. We can help you with applications for PGWP, OWP, Employer-specific WP, Extension or Restoration, or Change of status.