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Explaining the Canada Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program; Latest Changes and Eligibility Criteria.

Canada PGWP

Canada is a prime destination for international students, renowned for its high-quality education system, diverse culture, and welcoming environment. One of the significant advantages for international students studying in Canada is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program. This program allows graduates from Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to gain valuable work experience in Canada after completing their studies. In this article, we will explore the PGWP in detail, covering what it is, who needs it, recent changes, eligibility criteria, and a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to apply for the permit.

What is the PGWP?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that enables international graduates from eligible Canadian institutions to work in Canada. Unlike employer-specific work permits, the PGWP allows graduates to work for any employer, in any location across Canada, and in any field. The duration of the PGWP can be up to three years, depending on the length of the study program completed.

The primary objective of the PGWP is to help international students gain Canadian work experience, which is highly valued in the Canadian labor market and can significantly enhance their prospects for permanent residency. Canadian work experience gained through the PGWP can contribute to a candidate’s eligibility and improve their ranking in various immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) under the Express Entry system.

Who Needs the PGWP?

The PGWP is essential for international students who wish to extend their stay in Canada after graduation and gain work experience. Here are several reasons why the PGWP is crucial:

1) Career Development: Many international students aim to build their careers in Canada. The PGWP offers an opportunity to gain relevant Canadian work experience, which is often a prerequisite for many professional roles and can be advantageous when applying for jobs.

2) Pathway to Permanent Residency: Canadian work experience is a valuable asset for various permanent residency programs. The experience gained through the PGWP can make graduates eligible for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) under the Express Entry system, which prioritizes applicants with Canadian work experience.

3) Financial Stability: After investing significantly in their education, many international students need to work to support themselves financially. The PGWP allows graduates to work full-time, providing financial stability during their stay in Canada.

Recent Changes in the PGWP Program

The PGWP program has undergone several updates and changes to improve accessibility and adapt to the evolving educational and economic landscape. Some of the notable recent changes include:

1) Extended Eligibility for Online Studies: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government implemented temporary policy changes allowing students to complete up to 100% of their studies online from outside Canada and still be eligible for the PGWP. Initially, this policy was set to expire but has been extended several times, recognizing the ongoing impact of the pandemic on international students.

2) Clarification on Program Length: The duration of the PGWP is now explicitly linked to the length of the study program completed. For programs that are between eight months and two years in length, the work permit will be issued for the same duration as the program of study. For programs that are two years or longer, the work permit will be issued for three years.

3) Flexibility in Application Process: Changes have been made to allow graduates to apply for the PGWP from within Canada or from their home country. Additionally, there have been efforts to streamline the application process and reduce processing times.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the PGWP, applicants must meet specific criteria. These criteria are designed to ensure that the program benefits those who have completed a significant portion of their studies in Canada and have the intention of gaining Canadian work experience. The key eligibility criteria include:

1) Graduation from a DLI: Applicants must have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. The program must be at least eight months in duration and lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

2) Continuous Full-Time Study: The study program must have been completed while enrolled as a full-time student, except for the final academic session, where part-time status may be acceptable if it was the last semester of the program.

3) Valid Study Permit: Applicants must have a valid study permit when applying for the PGWP.

4) Application Timeline: The application for the PGWP must be submitted within 180 days of receiving written confirmation (e.g., a transcript or official letter) from the educational institution that the program requirements have been met.

5) No Prior PGWP: Applicants must not have previously been issued a PGWP. This permit can only be issued once.

Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for the PGWP

Applying for the PGWP involves several steps. Below is a detailed guide to help applicants navigate the process smoothly:

1) Gather Required Documents: Before starting the application process, ensure you have all necessary documents. These include:

  • A valid passport.
  • Official transcripts or a letter from your DLI confirming you have completed your program.
  • A valid study permit.
  • Digital copies of these documents for online submission.

2) Create an Online Account: Applicants must create an account on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. This account will be used to submit the application and track its status.

3) Complete the Application Form: Log into your IRCC account and fill out the PGWP application form (IMM 5710). Ensure all sections are completed accurately, and double-check the information before submission.

4) Pay the Fees: The PGWP application fee is CAD 255, which includes the open work permit holder fee. Payment can be made online through the IRCC portal.

5) Submit the Application: After completing the form and paying the fees, submit the application through your IRCC account. Ensure all documents are correctly uploaded and the application is complete to avoid delays.

6) Biometrics Appointment: If required, schedule and attend a biometrics appointment. You will receive instructions on how to book an appointment after submitting your application. Biometrics involve providing fingerprints and a photograph at a designated collection point.

7) Wait for Processing: The processing time for the PGWP can vary. It typically takes around 80 to 180 days, depending on the volume of applications and other factors. You can track the status of your application through your IRCC account.

8) Receive Your Permit: If your application is approved, you will receive your PGWP, allowing you to work in Canada. If you applied from within Canada, you would receive your permit by mail. If you applied from outside Canada, you would receive a Port of Entry (POE) letter, which you must present to the immigration officer when entering Canada.

Canada Post-Graduation Work Permit

Important Tips for PGWP Applicants

Applying for the PGWP can be a complex process, but following these tips can help ensure a smooth application:

  • Apply Early: It is advisable to apply as soon as you receive confirmation that you have completed your program. This ensures you do not miss the 180-day application window.
  • Ensure Document Accuracy: Ensure all documents submitted are accurate and up to date. Inaccurate or incomplete information can lead to delays or rejection of the application.
  • Check for Updates: Regularly check the IRCC website for any updates or changes to the PGWP program or application process.
  • Maintain Valid Status: If your study permit expires before you apply for the PGWP, you must either extend your study permit or change your status to a visitor. Applying within Canada while maintaining valid status ensures you can legally stay in the country while your application is processed.

FAQs about PGWP

To further assist prospective applicants, here are some frequently asked questions about the PGWP:

1) Can I apply for the PGWP if I studied part-time?

Generally, students must have been enrolled full-time in a study program, except during the final academic session. Part-time studies during the last semester of the program may be acceptable.

2) Can I work while my PGWP application is being processed?

If you apply for the PGWP before your study permit expires, you can work full-time while waiting for a decision on your application.

3) Can I apply for the PGWP from outside Canada?

Yes, you can apply for the PGWP from outside Canada, provided you meet all eligibility criteria.

4) How long is the PGWP valid for?

The validity of the PGWP depends on the length of your study program. For programs between eight months and two years, the PGWP is issued for the same duration as the study program. For programs longer than two years, the PGWP is valid for three years.

5) What if my application is refused?

If your application is refused, you will receive an explanation for the refusal. Depending on the reason, you may be able to reapply or seek other immigration options.


The Canada Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program is a vital resource for international students who wish to gain Canadian work experience after completing their studies. Understanding the program’s eligibility criteria, recent changes, and the application process is crucial for a successful application. By following the steps outlined in this guide, graduates can navigate the application process smoothly and take full advantage of the opportunities the PGWP provides. This program not only aids in career development but also serves as a significant stepping stone toward permanent residency in Canada.

The PGWP program represents a key component of Canada’s strategy to attract and retain global talent. It underscores the country’s commitment to providing opportunities for international students to integrate into the Canadian labor market and contribute to its economic growth. For many, the PGWP is the first step toward building a future in Canada, offering a bridge from academic achievement to professional success and eventual permanent residency.

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