Post-Graduation Work Permit validity and application

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Post-graduation work permits are exempt from Labour Market Impact Assessments. They are considered open and coded as C43.

With a post-graduation work permit, as with all open work permits, graduates can

  • work full time
  • work part time
  • be self-employed

The supporting regulatory framework for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is subparagraph 205(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Refugees Protection Regulations.

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Post-graduation work permit validity

A post-graduation work permit may be issued based on the length of the study program for a minimum of 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years.

When determining the length of a post-graduation work permit, officers may consider the duration of the program of study in Canada and confirm it with supporting documents. Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, scheduled winter and summer breaks) should be included in the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

This section also gives guidance on

Determining the length of the post-graduation work permit

The validity period of the post-graduation work permit may not go beyond the applicant’s passport validity date. If the applicant’s passport expires before the validity period of the post-graduation work permit, the officer should note this reason in the “Notes” box, in the Global Case Management System. The post-graduation work permit applicant then has to apply for a work permit extension upon the renewal of their passport to receive the full validity of their post-graduation work permit.

Post-graduation work permits can be extended only when the length of the permit could not be provided at the time of the application, due to the expiry date of the applicant’s passport.

Note: If the officer notes that the duration of studies was shorter than the duration of the program, as indicated in the letter confirming the completion of the program of study, and the program was not completed in an accelerated form, the post‑graduation work permit may be issued in accordance with the duration of studies. For example, if the applicant undertook classes for a period of 12 months, not in an accelerated form, but their degree notes that it is a 2‑year degree, the post-graduation work permit may be issued for 12 months, in accordance with the duration of their studies.

Note: For information about labour disruptions and strikes, see Applicants impacted by a DLI strike.

Length of the program or programs of study, including Quebec vocational programs with a diploma of college studies (DCS) and an attestation of college studies (ACS) Length of Quebec vocational programs with a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or attestation of vocational specialization (AVS) Length of the post-graduation work permit that can be issued

The program of study is at least 8 months and less than 2 years.

The vocational program of study is at least 900 hours and less than 1,800 hours.

The length of the work permit should coincide with the length of the program, as confirmed by the eligible DLI in the written confirmation of program completion (such as an official letter of completion or transcript).

Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, regularly scheduled winter and summer breaks) should not be subtracted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.

For a graduates with a DVS or AVS, a pro-rated calculation may be performed to determine the length.

Note: Officers may issue 3‑year post-graduation work permits to individuals who complete a master’s or doctoral degree in Canada when the eligible DLI has confirmed in the written confirmation of program completion that the degree is 16 to 23 months in length and does not include regularly scheduled breaks.

The program of study is 2 years or longer.

The vocational program of study is 1,800 hours or longer.

If the length of the program is confirmed by the eligible DLI in the written confirmation of program completion (such as an official letter or transcript), the length of the work permit should be 3 years.

Regularly scheduled breaks (for example, regularly scheduled winter and summer breaks) should not be subtracted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.

The student completed more than one program from an eligible DLI within 2 years.

Note: Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months in length.

The student completed more than one DVS or AVS program from an eligible DLI within 2 years.

Note: Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 900 hours in length.

The length of the work permit should combine the length of each program.

If the combined length of the programs is 2 years or longer (or 1,800 hours or longer for DVS and AVS programs in Quebec), the work permit may be valid for up to 3 years.

Accelerated studies

If a student completes their studies in less time than the normal length of the program (that is, they have accelerated their studies), the post-graduation work permit should be assessed on the length of the program of study.

For example, if the student is enrolled in a program of study that is normally 1 year in duration, but the student completes the requirements for the program of study within 8 months, they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit that is valid for 1 year.

Applicants impacted by a designated learning institution (DLI) strike

Applicants who are impacted by a strike affecting a DLI in Canada are considered to be studying continually full time during the strike period. The period of time in which the students are not attending class due to a school strike does not impact their eligibility under the PGWPP. Applicants impacted by a school strike must meet all other eligibility requirements under the PGWPP.

Students must be continually studying full time in Canada. However, if a student meets all the eligibility requirements, with the exception of full-time status during their final academic session, they are still considered eligible for the PGWPP.

Distance learning

Distance learning can be considered online learning. Students who complete a program of study exclusively by distance learning (outside or within Canada) are not eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

Officers should use the following guidelines to assess an applicant’s post-graduation work permit eligibility when the applicant has taken distance learning in Canada at an eligible DLI:

  • If more than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, the program may reasonably be considered a distance-learning program, and the applicant is ineligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  • If less than 50% of the program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning, a post-graduation work permit may be issued. The validity should be based on the length of the program, as confirmed by the eligible DLI, including credits earned from both in-class and distance-learning courses.

Note: If the distance-learning courses are completed outside Canada, they must be excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit.

Transfers between educational institutions

In cases where a student has transferred between eligible Canadian DLIs, the combined length of study must be at least 8 months to qualify for a post-graduation work permit.

In cases where a student graduated from an eligible DLI after having transferred from an ineligible institution, only time spent at the eligible DLI counts as eligible for post-graduation work permit issuance. Time spent at the eligible institution must be at least 8 months.

  • Example 1: Transferring from a foreign institution

    A student attends a foreign post-secondary institution and transfers to an accredited provincial or territorial post-secondary institution in Canada to complete their studies. In this scenario, if the qualifying educational credential were issued from an institution outside Canada, the student would not qualify for a post-graduation work permit. However, if the student received their educational credential from an eligible Canadian DLI, only the time they studied in Canada would factor into their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.

  • Example 2: Transferring from an ineligible institution

    A student attends their first year at a private post-secondary institution in Canada that is not eligible for the PGWPP but then transfers to an eligible DLI. In this scenario, if the student completed their program of study at the eligible DLI, they may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit but only for the length of time they studied at the eligible DLI.

  • Example 3: Transferring between eligible DLIs

    A student completes a program of study at an eligible DLI and transfers the credits earned to another eligible DLI (or transfers the credits earned from a previous program at the same eligible DLI). If the student submits a letter of acceptance indicating that the credits earned in the first program have been accepted toward completing the subsequent program, the officer should consider all credits from both programs that contribute toward completing the subsequent program in determining post-graduation work permit eligibility and length. A post-graduation work permit is issued based on the completed duration of the program of study.

Programs with an overseas component

If a student completes a program of study in Canada that has an overseas component, they are eligible for the PGWPP, as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential from an eligible DLI. However, the length of the post-graduation work permit is based on the length of time they studied in Canada. Officers may contact the DLI to confirm that the studies have taken place in Canada.

Making an application

Applicants must apply for a work permit within 180 days of receiving written confirmation (such as an official letter or transcript) from the educational institution indicating that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study. Calculation of 180 days begins the day the student’s final marks are issued or the day formal written notification of program completion is received, whichever comes first. The onus is on the applicant to provide proof of the date the transcript is received. Officers may also confirm this date with the educational institution.

The applicant may apply for a post-graduation work permit from within Canada if their study permit is still valid. If the applicant’s study permit is no longer valid, and they wish to remain in Canada, they must apply for visitor status before their study permit expires.

Former international students who change their status to visitor status before their study permit expires, while waiting for their notice of graduation from their institution, may also apply for a post-graduation work permit from within Canada.

Foreign nationals who do not apply for a post-graduation work permit, and whose study permit becomes invalid or expires, must either leave Canada or submit an application to change their status in Canada. They may also be subject to Restoration of temporary resident status.

Foreign nationals may apply for a post-graduation work permit from overseas.

The application package for a post-graduation work permit can be obtained through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website:

Work authorization after submitting a post-graduation work permit application

Per paragraph R186(w), graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a post-graduation work permit, 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:

  • They are or were the holders of a valid study permit at the time of the post-graduation work permit application.
  • They have completed their program of study.
  • They met the requirements for working off campus without a work permit under paragraph R186(v) (that is, they were a full-time student enrolled at a DLI in a post-secondary academic, vocational or professional training program of at least 6 months in duration that led to a degree, diploma or certificate).
  • They did not exceed the allowable hours of work under paragraph R186(v).

Applicants must stop working as soon as they are notified by IRCC (for example, via their MyAccount, by email or by mailed letter) that their application for a work permit is refused.

Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders

Spouses and common-law partners of post-graduation work permit holders may be eligible to apply for an open work permit under the C41 exemption (spouses and common-law partners of skilled workers).

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