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Canada extends flexible rules for post-graduate work permits through end of year

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • International students planning to begin studies in Canada this summer and fall are now permitted to complete up to 50% of their programmes online if restrictions prevent them from travelling from their home countries

In a move that had been widely anticipated over the last month, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that more flexible rules for student eligibility for Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) will remain in place for the rest of this year.

In a 14 May statement IRCC confirmed that an easing of PGWP rules – which previously had applied only for students who had planned to begin studies in Canada in May or June of this year – will now also apply to those intending to commence this fall.

The revised rules allow students to complete up to 50% of their studies remotely, from outside of Canada, without any impact on their PGWP eligibility. The IRCC statement explains, “Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWP limit an international student’s ability to pursue a programme via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible.”

“PGWP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19…Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their programme via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.”

“In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to 31 December 2020.”

The significance of this development traces back to the importance of the post-graduate work programme itself. The very-popular PGWP allows international students who have completed a programme of at least eight months’ duration to stay on to gain valuable work experience in Canada, experience that can count towards a future application for permanent residency in the country. Depending on the length of their study programme, students may be eligible for post-graduate work terms of up to three years.

This experience can in turn be a stepping stone to permanent residency in Canada. Canada’s Express Entry programme, for example, relies on a points-based system for evaluating applicants. Additional points are awarded for those who have completed post-secondary studies in Canada, and those with Canadian work experience can accumulate further points as well.

“International students are often excellent candidates to apply to remain in Canada permanently,” adds IRCC, “with nearly 54,000 former students becoming permanent residents in Canada in 2018.”

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