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Canada extends expiring post-graduate work permits for thousands of international students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • The Canadian government has announced that students on expiring post-graduation work permits will be eligible for an extension of 18 months
  • The move affects roughly 60,000 foreign graduates in Canada whose work permits are scheduled to expire in 2023

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on 17 March 2023 that international students with post-graduation work permits (PGWPs) expiring in 2023 will be eligible for an additional 18-month work permit.

The provision applies as well to students whose PGWPs have already expired. IRCC explains that, “Those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period, and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application.”

Students completing study programmes of eight months or more are normally eligible for PGWPs allowing for work periods of eight months to three years (depending on the length of the programme).

The move follows a similar extension for students with permits expiring in 2022. IRCC will open a “facilitative process” via its online services for students on 6 April 2023 in order to allow students to apply for the extension.

“Talented and skilled international graduates play a vital role in addressing Canada’s labour shortage, and those nearing the end of their PGWP are already well integrated into Canada’s labour market,” says an accompanying news release from IRCC. “The additional work permit will allow eligible applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy while gaining valuable work experience and preparing for the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.”

The IRCC release also makes a direct link between the opportunity to gain work experience in Canada via the PGWP and the transition to permanent residence for foreign graduates. The ministry reports that more than 157,000 foreign students gained permanent residence status in 2021 (a record high) followed by another 95,000 in 2022.

IRCC adds that, as of the end of 2022, “More than 286,000 international graduates were in Canada with a valid post-graduation work permit. About 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023, though about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and won’t need to extend their work permit through this initiative.” Those figures would suggest that roughly 60,000 students with expiring PGWPs will be eligible for the newly announced extension.

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