What is a post-graduate work permit (PGWP)?

Do Canadian graduates qualify for an open work permit?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is a program in Canada that allows recent student graduates to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. The benefit of the post graduate work permit is that it is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment. The main purpose behind the PGWP is to gain skilled Canadian work experience that can pave the way for you to apply for the Canadian experience class and become a permanent resident of Canada. Therefore, it is crucial to know ahead of time what occupations make you eligible to apply for permanent residency. With a post-graduation work permit graduates can work full time, part time or even be self-employed. 

Do all Canadian colleges and universities offer a PGWP?

Unfortunately, not all Canadian post-secondary schools (whether public or private) allow recent graduates to apply for a post graduate work permit. Only eligible designated learning institutions (DLI’s) will specify whether or not they allow PGWP after graduation and in some cases, they are program specific. Prior to attending a college or university, it is important to inquire with the institution whether or not you can apply for an open work permit (PGWP) after graduation. It can be a painful reality when a student realizes later that they weren’t eligible for a post-graduate work permit to begin with. You can only apply for a PGWP once in your lifetime and they cannot be extended.

What criteria must I meet to apply for a PGWP?

There are a few general criteria that are important to note prior to making a PGWP application. Although every situation can be a little different, it is advisable to refer to these basic guidelines:

  • You have completed a program of study at a designated institution that was at least eight months in duration 
  • You were considered a full-time student throughout the duration of your program of study 
  • You graduated from one of the following types of schools:
  • a public post-secondary school
  • 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, 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 degree)

How long is a PGWP valid for?

A post-graduation work permit is typically issued based on the duration of your program of study. Your program of study must have been for at least eight months. Therefore, a PGWP may be valid for at least eight months and has a maximum duration of three years. It’s important to note that scheduled breaks throughout your study are typically included (not subtracted) in the time accumulated towards the validity of your work permit. In many cases, a graduate may be issued the maximum three year validity if their program of study was at least two years. PGWP’s cannot be extended unless the entire duration of the work permit (based on the program of study) could not be issued when making an application. For example, if your passport expires in less than 3 years time, your work permit cannot extend your passport’s expiration date.

Can I work while awaiting my PGWP to be issued?

Yes. If you have completed your program of study you are allowed to work while you’re waiting for a decision on your post-graduation work permit application, provided you meet the following criteria:

  • you are or were a holder of a valid study permit at the time of the post-graduation work permit application
  • you were a full-time student enrolled at a Designated institution in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program
  • you were authorized to work off-campus without a work permit
  • you did not exceed the allowable hours of work during your study period

If you have more questions about the PGWP process or require a legal representative to complete your application please contact us.