Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP): COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

COVID-19 border measures have ended

On October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine or isolation requirements, ended for all travellers entering Canada by land, air or sea.

COVID-19 related PDIs will be updated, removed, or information incorporated into the regular PDIs, as necessary.

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Temporary policy changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP)

Eligible international students

Given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on international students and the post-secondary sector, temporary policy changes have been made to post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility requirements for the following groups of students:

To be eligible for these temporary policy changes (full facilitation measures) to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP), these students must meet one of the following requirements:

Important: Time spent studying at a designated learning institution (DLI) while the student is outside of Canada only begins to count toward the length of the PGWP after the department receives the study permit application. As such, studies undertaken before the study permit application receipt date should be deducted from the PGWP length. Note that the minimum length a PGWP can be issued for is 8 months. Therefore, if a student only completes 7 months of studies after their study permit application is received, they are not eligible for a PGWP. Students are encouraged to apply for their study permits prior to starting their studies.

These temporary policy changes (full facilitation measures) will come to an end on August 31, 2022.

New temporary policy changes (reduced facilitation measures) will be in effect between September 1, 2022, and August 31, 2023, for the following group of students:

To find out more about the new temporary policy changes (reduced facilitation measures), consult the Distance learning section.

Application deadline

Graduates in Canada

Students graduating in Canada or who apply at the port of entry are still required to apply for the PGWP within 180 days of holding a valid study permit, and within 180 days of receiving written notification of program completion from their designated learning institution (DLI).

Graduates outside of Canada

Students who graduate while outside of Canada and meet the eligibility requirements of the temporary PGWP policy changes described above do not need to hold or have held a valid study permit within 180 days of applying for the PGWP. In order to be eligible to apply, these graduates must either have a study permit or have received a study permit approval, and they must still apply within 180 days of receiving written notification of program completion from their DLI.

Distance learning

Distance learning from outside Canada

Under normal circumstances, all distance learning courses completed outside Canada are excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit, and 50% of a student’s courses must be completed in Canada and in person.

The following temporary policy changes have been made to accommodate eligible international students who have completed distance learning outside Canada.

1. Full facilitation measures

All students who were enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program in March 2020, or who started or will start a program of study between March 2020 and August 31, 2022, are not required to complete 50% of their program (or programs) of study in Canada. Up to 100% of their program can be completed online from outside Canada.

2. Reduced facilitation measures

All students who started or will start a program of study between September 1, 2022, and August 31, 2023, are required to complete at least 50% of their program (or programs) of study in Canada.

Officers should use the guidelines below to assess an applicant's PGWP eligibility when the applicant has done distance learning outside of Canada at an eligible DLI.

Full facilitation measures

Reduced facilitation measures

Any time spent studying outside of Canada by a student after August 31, 2023, will be deducted from the length of the PGWP, regardless of when the student started or will start their program of study.

Note: The minimum length of time a PGWP should be issued for is 8 months.

All other program criteria and requirements must be met.

Note: In cases where a study permit application is submitted before a program starts but is refused, if a subsequent study permit application is received before the end of the program and is eventually approved, the studies undertaken after the first study permit application was received by the department count toward the length of the PGWP.

Distance learning from inside Canada

If your courses were moved online due to the pandemic, the time you spend studying online from within Canada until August 31, 2023, still counts toward the length of your PGWP. However, it’s highly recommended that you attend in-class options when offered.

The temporary policy change for in-Canada students studying online ends on August 31, 2023.

Program stacking

Until August 31, 2023, eligible students who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, when both programs were either in progress in March 2020 or were started between March 2020 and August 31, 2022, may be able to both

Each program needs to be a minimum of 8 months in duration, and the programs need to be completed from an eligible designated learning institution (DLI) within 2 years as per current instructions on determining the length of the post-graduation work permit.

Students who start their second program on or after September 1, 2022, are not eligible for the facilitation measure above, even if their first program was in progress in March 2020, or if it began between March 2020 and August 31, 2022. If students start their second program on or after September 1, 2022, they need to complete at least 50% of their second program in Canada.

Note: For vocational programs in Quebec, the diploma of vocational studies (DVS) must be at least 900 hours in length, but an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS) can be less than 900 hours in length when submitted in combination with the DVS.

Part-time status

Students in or outside of Canada may have been required to put their studies on hold or become part-time students due to course cancellations as a result of public health measures at DLIs. For the winter, spring and summer 2020 semesters only (between January 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020), when a student’s status changed from full time to part time due to changes in course delivery at a DLI, their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit will not be impacted.

Documents to submit

Due to circumstances beyond students’ control, many international students may be unable to obtain a letter of completion or final transcript from their DLI. As a temporary facilitation measure, applicants who apply for a PGWP will be allowed to submit an application without their letter of completion or final transcript. When IRCC processes the application, the documents will be requested by the processing officer as per the procedures for requests for additional documents on open applications.

Applicants who need to restore their status will also be eligible to apply without their letter of completion or final transcript.

Applicants residing in Quebec

Foreign nationals who study in Quebec are not required to have a valid Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) when submitting a PGWP application. As the PGWP is an open work permit and Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt, a valid CAQ or study permit is not required at the time of PGWP issuance.

If foreign nationals are applying for a PGWP and their study permit has expired, they are permitted to apply to restore their status as a student without a CAQ and apply for the PGWP at the same time, as the CAQ is not required for the PGWP.

Work authorization after submitting a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) application

As per paragraph R186(w), graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a PGWP, before the expiry of their study permit are eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application if all of the following apply:

Temporary public policy to facilitate the issuance of an open work permit to former or current post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders

This public policy came into force on June 13, 2022. In order to be considered under this public policy, PGWPs must have expired or be expiring between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022. All applications must be submitted by December 31, 2022.

IRCC recognizes the effects of pausing the invitations to apply for federal high skilled streams under Express Entry (including federal skilled workers, federal skilled trades and Canadian experience class) on the Canadian labour market and PGWP holders. Under this temporary public policy, we are introducing measures so that eligible PGWP holders can apply for a new open work permit that would be valid for up to 18 months. This public policy will be in effect until December 31, 2022.

These instructions provide guidance for issuing the additional open work permit while the public policy is in effect.

Public policy objectives

The public policy will allow eligible PGWP holders and former PGWP holders, including those who have valid temporary resident status, to apply from inside of Canada for an open work permit. The permit will be valid for up to 18 months or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

Applicants outside of Canada must apply for a regular work permit and indicate that they are applying under this public policy.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible under this public policy and for the open work permit, the foreign national must submit clear evidence that they meet the criteria below.

A foreign national must

  • hold or have held a PGWP that has expired or is expiring between September 20, 2021, and December 31, 2022,
  • have maintained temporary resident status or be eligible for restoration (in Canada only)
  • have requested consideration under this public policy and have indicated the duration of the work permit they are seeking in their application (maximum of 18 months)

Applications must be submitted online. Applicants can only apply on paper if they can’t apply online because of a disability or because there is a problem with the online application.

The new open work permit would be valid for a maximum of 18 months. Applicants whose passport will expire in less than 18 months will be issued an open work permit with a duration aligned to their passport validity.

An open work permit under this public policy will only be issued to an eligible applicant once and it cannot be extended.

The public policy waives the regulatory prohibition of work permit issuance under paragraph R200(3)(e) where there has been unauthorized work or study, unless the applicant has engaged in unauthorized work for an employer described in section R196.1. Foreign nationals eligible under this public policy are subject to all other legislative obligations and admissibility and selection requirements not exempted under this or any other public policy.

Restoring status

If applicants have a PGWP that has expired in the previous 90 days, they must apply for restoration of status with their application for the open work permit.

Duration

Applicants who have submitted an application under this public policy may be issued an open work permit for a maximum length of 18 months.

Validity will be as follows:

The duration will be of 18 months or until the expiry of the applicant’s passport, whichever comes first, in both of the above situations.

Work permit application submission

All applicants must submit their PGWP application by following the instructions to apply online under a public policy.

Mandatory documents

When applicants apply, they must submit the following documents:

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