Canada is a pretty popular study abroad destination – and for good reason! With several of the world’s best universities, courses focusing on building up students’ industry experience, and high quality of living, Canada is a dream destination for many. But that’s hardly all. Lots of students aim to settle in Canada thanks to its flexible immigration policies. The country has mechanisms in place to bring graduating talents into its workforce right after they leave school. And this route, in turn, can pave the way toward permanent residency in Canada. So, let’s get right into it – here’s our breakdown on the post study work visa for Canada!
The Perks of Post Study Opportunities in Canada
Plenty of Canadian universities rank pretty high for global graduate employability. And that’s not surprising. The Canadian higher education system is very responsive to industry trends and practices. Work placements and internships are often critical components of course curricula. The courses themselves are up-to-date, built with input from industry experts and practitioners. This means that as a graduate of a Canadian university, you enter the workforce with both the knowledge and the skills and experience you need to thrive in Canada’s workforce.
Naturally, looking at the high quality of its graduates, Canada also wants to retain its talents. This is why getting a post study work visa for Canada is a very flexible and accessible route for international graduates! Canada enjoys a booming and highly-advanced economy, with thriving job markets in high-paying sectors. Working in Canada gives you the opportunity to live and earn in a safe, beautiful, and welcoming country with an excellent standard of living! And getting a post study work visa for Canada also opens up opportunities to settle down in Canada as a permanent resident. So, if you’re a student looking to work and live in Canada after graduation, what do you need to know?
Your Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility Checklist
The Canadian government offers the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) route for international students looking to stay and work in Canada after graduating. Whether or not you’re eligible for the program depends on a couple of factors.
You have 180 days to apply for the PGWP after officially completing your program. This means that you have 180 days after receiving your diploma or degree, your transcript, and/or an official letter of completion from your school, to apply.
Study Permit Validity
During the 180 days within which you apply, your study permit must still be valid. The study permit is the authorization you need to arrive, live, and study in Canada. If this permit is due to expire, you can either:
- Switch to a visitor record to extend your stay in Canada
- Leave the country and apply for the PGWP from your home country
You can still go ahead with the PGWP application if you:
- Applied to extend your study permit before it expires and the decision is pending
- Applied for a visitor record before applying for the PGWP and the decision is pending
If your study permit expires while you’re in Canada, you have 90 days to restore your student status. You can do this as part of your PGWP application. This does require an additional fee, so take note!
Your passport needs to be valid for the entire duration of the PGWP! If it’s about to expire, Canadian immigration might:
- Issue a PGWP for you that is only valid until your passport’s expiry date
- Ask you to extend or renew your passport to get full validity
To extend your PGWP to its full validity length, you need authorisation from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). To request this extension, you need to apply on paper!
University and Course Eligibility
Whether your course qualifies you for the PGWP depends on the nature of the course and your education provider. Remember, not all Canadian universities will qualify you for the PGWP. To be eligible, you must have:
- Completed a program at a Designated Learning Institute (DLI)
- Studied an eight-month or longer program
- Received a certificate, diploma, or degree upon completing your program
- Been a full-time student during each of your semesters (this doesn’t include the final semester, which can be part-time, and/or time spent away on authorised leave from studies)
- Graduated from a:
- Public post-secondary institution, e.g. a college, university, trade or technical institution, or CEGEP (in Quebec)
- Private post-secondary institution in Quebec following the same rules of operation as public institutions in the province
- Public or private secondary or post-secondary education provider in Quebec awarding qualifications for 900-hour or longer programs. These programs must lead to either:
- a diploma of vocational studies (DVS), or
- an attestation of vocational specialisation (AVS)
- Private institution with authorisation under provincial law to award qualifying degrees (e.g. Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degrees). The degree itself must have authorisation under provincial law – not all degrees under the institution may fit this requirement
Who Isn’t Eligible for the PGWP?
You won’t qualify for the PGWP if you:
- hold a study permit that expired over 180 days before your PGWP application
- already held a PGWP application after completing a previous program
- are studying in an English/French as a second language program
- are a Government of Canada Awards Program participant
- got Global Affairs Canada funding
- received the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada-Chile
- are a Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program participant
- are an Organisation of American States Fellowship Program participant
- finished a large component of a program through distance learning, e.g. e-learning and online courses (this does not include students affected by Covid-19 restrictions)
- finished a program under a non-Canadian education provider in Canada
The Application Process for the PGWP
Okay, now that we’re clear on the eligibility criteria, let’s get into the actual application. The online option is the fastest and most efficient way of kicking off the process. This way, you automatically know if your application is incomplete before submission. You can also check the status of the application from your account directly. Here’s what you’ll need to complete your PGWP application:
Proof that you completed your studies
- Final academic transcripts, and
- Official letter of completion from your school and/or formal notice of graduation
- IMM5710 – Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay, or Remain in Canada as a Worker
- IMM5476 – Use of Representative (only applicable if you are using a representative’s help, or are appointing or dismissing a representative
- IMM5476 – Authority to Release Personal Information to Designated Individual (only applicable if you authorise the IRCC and CBSA to disclose your case file to others apart from yourself)
Identification and travel documents
- Photocopies of passport, including your personal details and visa pages
- Photocopies of other identification or travel documents if you didn’t use your passport to enter Canada
- Photocopy of any current immigration document you may hold
Proof of payment
The total application fee is CAD 255
If your study permit expired and you need to restore your student status, the additional fee is CAD 350. You can pay this as part of your PGWP application
If you’re going to work in a designated occupation (e.g., in a healthcare setting or working with children), you need to complete a medical exam before applying. Options include:
- Getting an upfront medical checkup done through a Panel Physician
- Waiting for the Case Processing Centre’s instructions after your application has undergone review
- Involves giving fingerprints and taking photographs at a Service Canada location
- Biometrics are valid for ten years – if you already gave biometrics in the last ten years (e.g., for your study permit) you can skip this step
The overall processing time for the PGWP application is about 106 days!
How Long is the PGWP Valid?
The length of your PGWP’s validity depends on the length of your program!
Less than eight months
Not eligible for PGWP
Eight months or longer, and less than two years
Same length as program length
Two years or more
Up to 3 years validity
More than one study program
Combines the length of each program, if eligible, to determine PGWP length
When Can I Start Working After Graduating?
You can keep working in Canada until you get an application decision if you:
- Held a valid study permit at the time you applied for the PGWP
- Completed your program
- Were eligible to work off-campus while on your study permit, and
- Did not go over your work hour limits while working as a student
If you don’t check off these requirements, you need to wait for your PGWP application to get approval first. Working without getting your PGWP in this scenario is illegal! If you receive a refusal for your application, you need to stop working on the day you receive the notice.
Finding Work in Canada as a Graduate
The education system in Canada works closely with industry to create job-ready graduates. This means that by the time you graduate, you already possess much of the expertise and skills you need to be a valuable employee in your sector! Work placements and internships built into your programs allow you to experience practical learning. This supplements what you learn in classrooms and gives you hands-on skills you wouldn’t get otherwise. Plus, working while studying helps build your professional connections too. It’s pretty common for graduates to work full-time with companies they interned for!
Your study permit may also make you eligible to work in Canada part-time as a student. Alongside course-related work experience, you may be able to work both on- and off-campus for up to 20 hours every week! During annual holiday breaks, you can work full-time. Alongside managing your living expenses, this also helps you build up your professional skills and connections. Employers always value candidates who already have some work experience. If you’re applying for a post study work visa in Canada after master’s, for example, you may already have some full-time experience under your belt. Make sure to highlight this in your cover letter and interview!
And also make sure to keep it relevant. Even if your experience is completely different from the field you are applying in, you likely still possess the attributes and soft skills employers value. Spotlight achievements, skills, or experience that showcase your technical abilities and work ethic. Things like being a great leader, a strong team player, an independent learner, a proficient writer or designer, etc. can all play a part in making your job application a success!
Along with your work experience, we recommend making sure you’re ready for interview circuits early on.
Draft up compelling cover letters for your applications that tie together what the company is looking for with the skills and experience you have to offer. Practice your interview skills with help from your university’s careers counselling team. Put together an excellent resume spotlighting your professional expertise and skills that make you stand out within your field. Planning and preparing ahead lets you hit the ground running!
Our Concluding Thoughts on a Getting Post Study Work Visa for Canada
From detailed breakdowns of application questions to amazing flexibility in eligibility criteria, it’s small wonder that Canada is such a popular destination with graduates. Students naturally want to stay and work in Canada’s highly-developed industries. These industries in turn are on the lookout for talented graduates who can enhance the country’s economic outlook even more. It’s a win-win situation for everyone and the reason the PGWP application process is so accommodating and accessible! And hopefully, our breakdown on getting your post study work visa for Canada gave you everything you need to start off yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the post study visa Canada duration?
How long the PGWP is valid depends on the duration of your (eligible) study program. The program has to be at least eight months or longer to qualify you for this post study work visa for Canada. If the program is eight months or longer (but less than two years long), the validity matches the length of the program. And if the program is longer than two years, you can get a PGWP valid for three years.
Can I extend my post study work visa in Canada?
If you already held a PGWP after completing a previous program, you can’t get another one. The only situation in which you’re eligible for an extension is if your passport is due to expire before the full validity duration of the PGWP. The IRCC may then grant you a visa valid until your passport’s expiry date. If authorised by the IRCC, you can apply to extend the validity to its full length after renewing your passport.
Can I settle in Canada after study?
The PGWP is often the route many students take to get permanent residency in Canada! Permanent residents are individuals whose education, skills, and professional experience are an asset to Canada. Studying, working, and specialising within Canada’s dynamic job market gives you a head start toward permanent resident status!