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What is the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and How it Works?

What is the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) and How it Works?
September 27th, 2022

The Post Graduation Work Permit (PGPW) is a path that many foreign students take in their journey to immigrate in Canada.

Besides being an interesting way to acquire work experience in the country, it is also a way to extend the period you’re allowed to stay in Canada and eventually seek authorization for permanent residency.

However, there are still many questions about how this permission works, who has the right to it, and if its proceedings can change in the near future. To answer these questions, we’ve prepared this article explaining all you need to know about the PGWP.


What is the Post Graduation Work Permit?

The PGPW is a program by the Canadian government that allows people who have completed their postsecondary studies in Canada to stay working in the country for a while longer, including: people studying in a university or in a vocational course can receive authorization to work for a period of time that can reach up to three years, once they have received their diploma.

Besides serving as a way to gain work experience, the Post Graduation Work Permit can also help you qualify for permanent residency


Who has the right to a PGWP?

To be granted a Post Graduation Work Permit, you must:

●      Have completed an academic, vocational, or professional course with the minimum duration of 8 months, and have received a graduation, diploma, or certificate;

●      Have graduated from a public college (except in Québec, for now);

●      Have kept your full-time student status during all the terms you were attending the course;

●      Have an official letter from the institution confirming that you have completed the course and fulfilled all due requirements. The institution must also be listed as DLI (Designated Learning Institution), a definition granted by the Canadian government;

●      Have had a study authorization within 180 days before the date you apply for the Post Graduation Work Permit.

It is also important that you have done all your studies in designated institutions. Therefore, it is not enough to start or complete your studies in one of these universities, you must also make sure that all educational institutions you enroll in are in the list.

You can check the list with all DLIs separated by province in this link


What changes in the permit are expected for 2023?

The government of Quebec has announced a change to the PGWP in 2023. This change can heavily affect students, even some who already have plans of studying in specific institutions.

The change is very simple: the government of Quebec will no longer issue Post Graduation Work Permit for students of private institutions in courses starting from September 2023. This means that students who start their studies in a private college after September 1st, 2023, will no longer be eligible for this study program.

This change will move Quebec into the same framework used in the rest of the country. In the rest of Canada, if you graduate from a private college, you’re not allowed to apply for a PGWP.


Does this affect the exchange program with internship?

No. The exchange program with internship in Quebec, even those with paid internship, remain valid for private colleges. This means that both academic and vocational or professional courses that expect the student to work for a period of time, remain valid. 

The change will only affect the Post Graduation Work Permit program. Co-Op won’t be the only one continuing to work normally, but also other types of exchange programs involving paid work. 


I’ve already enrolled in a private college in Quebec. What do I do now? 

First of all, it is important to highlight that the decision only affects courses that haven’t started yet. If you’re expected to start before September 2023, all you have to do is make sure you start on time.

If you’re enrolled in a course that will start after September 2023, it is important to contact the institution to check if there’s the possibility of bringing forward the start date. Many colleges have been offering remaining spots, and even opening extra groups, for students who wish to bring forward their start date. However, it is important to highlight that these spots are limited.

As a last resort, there’s the option of trying to move your course to another private institution that still has spots available to start before September 2023, or even to a public college. You can also try an institution from another province where private colleges are still contemplated by the PGWP. These options, however, may require payment of fines or compensations to the college you’re already enrolled in, depending on the contract you signed.

Do I need to be in Canada to apply for a Post Graduation Work permit?

You don’t need to be in Canada to apply for it, but you must have completed a face-to-face course in a DLI within the last 180 days before your application.


How long can I expect my PGWP to last?

If you’ve graduated from a program that lasted from 8 months to 2 years, you can expect at least a month of PGWP for each month of studies. For courses lasting more than 2 years, PGWP is normally granted with a duration of 3 years, save for rare exceptions.


How do I apply for the Post Graduation Work Permit?

The application for the PGWP must be done 100% online for people who are in Canada, except for people with physical disabilities who cannot fill out the online form by themselves. For those opting to apply for the PGWP from abroad, the application can be made through the mail, but online is still recommended for being faster.

The registration is done entirely on the Canadian government’s website, in a process similar to the one for a student visa. Your IRCC registration (Immigrants, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada), which is your registration with the Canadian immigration department, will be the basis for your application.

*Remember that you cannot apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit if your studies lasted less than 8 months, or if you studied English or French at a language course.

**This article was written with information available in July 2022. If you’re reading this long after this date, we advise you to search for more recent information on the subject.

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