So, you've made it. Years of study, late nights, and caffeine-fueled cram sessions have culminated in a shiny new degree. Now it's time to set your sights on the next challenge, and you've got your heart set on Canada. But how to navigate the labyrinth of immigration rules and regulations? Don't fret! You could qualify for a work permit to work in Canada temporarily. How? By applying for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). Let's take a look at how it all works.

What is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

Post-Graduation Work Permit

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is a unique program the Canadian government offers to international students who have completed a program of study at designated learning institutions in Canada. This permit allows the graduates to work in Canada upon completion of their studies. The PGWP serves as a critical transition point for international students to shift from their student status to becoming Canadian permanent residents.

The Post Graduate Work Permit is not job-specific, which means applicants are not restricted to working within a specific profession or location within Canada. This provides graduates with broad and diverse opportunities to gain valuable Canadian work experience in their respective fields. The duration of the PGWP varies depending on the length of the study program completed by the individual in Canada. For instance, if the student has completed a four-year degree, he or she may be eligible for a three-year PGWP. 

The primary goal of the Post Graduate Work Permit program is to attract international students to Canada and encourage them to contribute to the Canadian economy through their skills and talent. It gives foreign students who have pursued higher education in Canada an opportunity to use their advanced knowledge and skills to benefit Canadian businesses and society.

Furthermore, the PGWP program offers a pathway to permanent residence in Canada. After gaining Canadian work experience through this program, individuals can apply for permanent residency under various immigration programs like the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program, or Provincial Nominee Program.

How to Apply for a PGWP

PGWP Canada

Step 1: Make Sure You Qualify

You must ensure you qualify before applying for a post graduate work permit. You must have completed a program of study that lasted at least eight months at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. You must also maintain full-time student status in Canada during each semester of your program (except your final semester, which can be part-time, or you can be on a scheduled break). You can only apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) from within Canada if you are eligible. You have six months from the time you've graduated to apply. To qualify, your study permit must have been valid during this period. You are advised not to let your status expire while waiting for your academic results.

Should your study permit reach expiration before you receive your results, you'll be able to:

  • Apply to a visitor record. This will allow you to be in the country for a while longer.
  • Exit the country and then apply for a PGWP. Should you remain in Canada and let your study permit expire, you must apply to restore your status as a student to apply for a PGWP. Restoring your status will come at an extra cost

To get your student status back, you must:

  • Make an online application for a PGWP and pay the correct fee (255 CAD)
  • Make a payment of 350 CAD to regain your status as a student

Note: You won't be able to work in Canada if your study and work permits have not been approved.

You will also have to have graduated from a designated learning institution. Your program would have to run for at least eight months, and you would have to have earned either a degree, diploma, or certificate. You must have been a full-time student in Canada in every semester of your study program.

Note: This isn't relevant for your last semester as this may end up being part-time. This also doesn't apply in cases where you took a break from your studies.

You will qualify for a PGWP if you have studied at a Canadian:

  • a college
  • trade school
  • technical institution
  • university

You will not be eligible for a PGWP if you:

  • Your study permit expired more than six months before your application.
  • Have been granted a PGWP before
  • Had English or French as a second language.
  • Studied general interest or self-improvement subjects.
  • Participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program, which is sponsored by Global Affairs Canada.
  • Received funds from Global Affairs Canada
  • Received the Equal Opportunity Scholarship
  • Took part in the Canada-China Scholars' Exchanges Program.
  • Were part of the Organization of American States Fellowships Program.
  • Covered the major section of a study program via distance learning (online courses, e-learning, or correspondence). Note: You could qualify for a PGWP if you could only study online from another country due to COVID-19.
  • Studied at a non-Canadian school in Canada.
  • Graduated from a non-Canadian institution based in Canada

Note: If awarded a Study in Canada scholarship, you can still apply for a PGWP.

Applying Outside of Canada

You can apply for a PGWP outside of Canada if you are eligible and have approval for a study permit. You won't be required to have a valid study permit while studying online from another country.

Step 2: Get Your Documents Ready

Before submitting your PGWP, you'll need certain documents to prove your studies' completion. These include:

  • Your degree or diploma
  • An official letter from your institution
  • An official transcript or a certified copy thereof

You'll also need a copy of your passport, a digital photo, and a credit or debit card to pay the application fee.

Note: Additional documents may be requested upon receipt of your application.

Step 3: Take Note of the Time Frame in Which You Apply

The period within which you can apply for the Post Graduate Work Permit is limited. You must apply within six months of earning your degree before your study permit expires. The permit will take some time to be processed. For this reason, you'll be given implied status during the Post Graduate Work Permit application waiting period. This will allow you to stay in the country once your study permit has expired. You can also work in Canada if it aligns with study permit regulations until your PGWP is approved. According to the IRCC, This will, however, only be possible if:

  • You have or have a valid study permit when you apply for your post-graduation work permit application.
  • You were enrolled at a DLI in a tertiary academic institution.
  • You were granted authorization for off-campus employment without having a work permit.
  • You stayed within the allowed hours of employment.

Note: PGWP processing times vary from individual to individual. It would be wise to apply as soon as you finish your course. Remember, the clock starts ticking from the day you receive your final marks—not the day of your graduation ceremony.

Step 4: Apply for Your PGWP

Finally, it's time to submit your application. The application is online through the Government of Canada's official immigration website. You must fill out a form, upload your documents, and pay a fee. Once you've submitted your application, you only have to wait for a decision.

Benefits of Applying Online

  • There are no courier fees.
  • You don't have to consider mailing time; your application is submitted immediately.
  • Processing is faster
  • You can have a better idea of the level of completeness of your application.
  • You can submit requested documents as required instantly.
  • You can keep track of your application status

To apply online from inside Canada, you must:

  • Ensure you have a scanner or camera to create digital copies of your documents. You'll also need a valid credit or debit card.
  • Go through the instruction guide. It will take you through each section of the form.
  • Have your answers for the online tool. IRCC will use them to set up a custom document checklist for you
  • Check which fees you have to pay. Fees are likely to be for the processing of the application. You will get a request to pay fees upon completion of your application. Be sure to pay the open work permit holder and work permit fees.
  • Set up your online account or log in. Once done, you can pay the required fees, apply online, and review your application status.

Processing Times

According to the IRCC website, online applications take 165 days, while paper applications take 141 days.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an impactful initiative by the Canadian Government that benefits international students and contributes significantly to Canada's economy and society. It acts as a bridge between education and employment, facilitating the smooth transition of international students into Canada's workforce. With flexible working conditions and a potential pathway to permanent residency, the PGWP is a valuable opportunity for international students aspiring to make Canada their home. Obtaining a postgraduate work permit in Canada can unlock a world of opportunities for you—from gaining invaluable work experience to potentially becoming a permanent resident. Ready for the next part of the Canada experience?


canada pgwp

Can I Apply for a Work Permit After PGWP?

You can apply for a new work permit after your PGWP expires. However, you'll need to meet the eligibility requirements for the work permit you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for an employer-specific work permit, you'll need a job offer from a Canadian employer, and the employer must have a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Can I Travel Outside Canada While Waiting for PGWP?

You can travel outside Canada while processing your PGWP application. However, you should know you might need a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) to return to Canada. Moreover, if you leave Canada and your study permit expires while you're away, you won't be able to re-enter Canada as a student.