Canada eases application requirements for post-study work permits

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • The Canadian government has expanded the window during which international students may apply for a post-study work permit
  • Students may also apply from outside of Canada, and no longer require a valid study permit during the entire application period

International students who want to work in Canada following their studies at a Canadian institution will have more time to apply for the country’s popular Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP allows international students who have completed a programme of at least eight months’ duration to stay on to work in Canada for up to three years, experience that can count towards a future application for permanent residency in the country.

Double the amount of time to apply

Under changes to the programme announced on 14 February, where students used to have only 90 days to apply for a PGWP following the completion of their programme, they now have twice that amount of time – six months (180 days) – to apply. The 180-day period begins when students’ final marks have been issued or when they receive a formal written notification of their programme completion.

In addition, the application rules regarding PGWP have also been relaxed to the effect that:

  • Students will no longer need to possess a valid study permit to apply – the study permit only needs to have been valid at some point during the 180-day period;
  • Students may apply for a PGWP from their home country, meaning that they may return home for up to six months after finishing their programme without jeopardising their chances of obtaining a work permit for employment in Canada.

David Cohen, senior partner at the Campbell Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal, commented that, “This is huge news for international graduates who are applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. Doubling the amount of time they have to apply and allowing them to do so beyond the expiration date on their study visa will make a world of a difference for students who want to stay and gain valuable Canadian work experience.”

How the PGWP relates to immigration

The PGWP is an important component of the Canadian government’s bid to attract talented international student graduates to bolster the country’s labour force. When international students in possession of these work permits gain employment experience in Canada, they also gain the ability to amass points that they can apply to their application to become Canadian immigrants. These points are considered in their application for permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class, which is part of the Express Entry selection programme administered by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) revealed that 70% of Canada’s international students want to work in the country following their studies and that six in ten wanted to immigrate to Canada in the future.

Canada is one of the five most popular study abroad destinations in the world, and the country’s post-study work rights and immigration policies are a significant driver of the country’s attractiveness among international students.

The number of international students holding Canadian study permits (as of 31 December, 2018) reached 572,415 in 2018, up from 492,545 the year before. This compares to the 690,468 foreign students in Australia as of November 2018, and the 458,490 EU and non-EU students in the UK during the 2017/18 academic year.

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