The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program and How it Works

One of the most important benefits of studying in Canada is the ability to qualify for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP program allows international students who have completed a qualifying program at an approved post-secondary institution to obtain an open work permit. Only certain universities and colleges offer programs that are eligible for the PGWP.

In February, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada indicated for the first time which Canadian schools offer eligible programs. You can find this list here. The PGWP program is an essential step for foreign students to gain the high-skilled Canadian work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.  

Here are some of the key details on the PGWP program:

  • You must apply for a PGWP within 90 days of receiving written confirmation that you have met the requirements of your program. This can include: final transcripts, a letter, your degree, etc. After the 90-day period, you are no longer eligible to participate for a PGWP. 
  • You must hold a valid study permit in order to apply for the PGWP.
  • Once you have received written confirmation that you have met the requirements of your program, you are no longer authorized to continue working on your study permit. You may resume working upon submission of the PGWP application.
  • The length of your program of study determines the validity of your PGWP:
    • If your program was between 8 months and less than 2 years, your PGWP validity may match the length of the program.
    • If your program lasted 2 years or more, your PGWP may be valid for 3 years.
  • Some students who complete 2 programs (the second of which is a post-graduate program started within 2 years of the completion of the first program) may also be eligible for a 3-year PGWP.
  • You may only have one PGWP in your lifetime - there are no renewals, and no second permits even if you return to full-time studies.

If you are planning to study in Canada, it is critical to plan so to ensure you maximize the validity of your PGWP and obtain the Canadian work experience you need to qualify for permanent residence.

If you are already studying in Canada, it is vital to prepare early to ensure your application is submitted on time and without mistakes.

To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your case, contact us at (416) 548-9101 or by email at

Upcoming Student Seminars

Together with student groups at universities and colleges throughout Ontario, Long Mangalji will be offering free immigration seminars to international students this fall. 

Come and join us if you are a member of one of the following groups: 


McMaster University, International Graduate Students Association

Date: October 8 

Time: 4:00-6:00 pm

Place: Council Chambers room, Gilmour Hall, Room 111 


Windsor University, Graduate Students Society

Date: October 22

Time: 2:30-3:50 pm

Place: CEI 1100

University of Toronto, Graduate Students Union

Date: October 27

Time: 5:00-7:00 pm

Place: Ramsay Wright Laboratories; RW117


York University, Graduate Students Association


George Brown College, Students Association


If your organization would like us to provide you with a seminar free of charge, let us know and we'll be happy to come. Contact Elizabeth Long at (416) 548-9089, or at

'Express Entry' to create new barriers for permanent residence

The government is pressing on with its overhaul of the immigration system, and major changes coming in the new year will make permanent residence applications more difficult. Starting January 2015, applications for PR under the Economic Class programs (Federal Skilled Worker/Trades, Canadian Experience Class, and the Provincial Nominee programs) will be processed under the new Express Entry system.

Under the Express Entry system, candidates will complete an online profile, and be placed in a pool where they will be ranked against other applicants. Only the highest-ranked candidates will be allowed to apply for permanent residence.

Although the final criteria are not out yet, the program is designed to be much more restrictive. Here is why: 

  • Individuals that do not have job offers or provincial nominations will be ranked low in the pool.
  • If your application has remained in the pool for a year you will have to re-apply.
  • It will be impossible to determine how long your application will stay in the pool.
  • Those applying without a job offer will have to register with the federal government's Job Bank. Positions obtained through the Job Bank will be subject to Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs).
  • Although the government has not yet made it clear, there are strong indications that even those that have job offers will need LMIAs.

Time is running out to apply under current programs. Many applicants that qualify under current programs will not qualify under the new system. It is critical that if you qualify now, you should apply immediately.

Recent Changes Affecting International Students

This summer has been heating up with new rules for international students.  In one of our previous posts we had told you about the new rules regarding study permits and off-campus work permits that came into place on June 1, 2014.  Recently, the government cancelled the post-graduate LMO recruiting exemption for international students who are looking to extend their work permits after their post-graduate work permits expire. 

These and upcoming changes to the permanent residence system such as Express Entry (expected to be in place in January 1, 2015), mean that international students and recent graduates may need to revisit their immigration plans.  Consider the following:

  • Students must continue to study in the program in order to maintain their status.  Those who drop out will invalidate their study permit.  

  • Students with study permits will no longer need to apply for off-campus work permits in order to work off-campus during their studies.  However, when they graduate they must apply for the post-grad work permit before they can work. 

  • Graduates with post-graduate work permits that are about to expire will no longer be able to apply to extend their work permits without having their employers go through the normal recruiting process.   

  • Next year, under the new Express Entry program, everyone who apply for permanent residence under the Canadian Experience Class, Skilled Worker, or Provincial Nominee Programs will be cast first into a pool of applicants.  Only a limited number of applicants will be selected to go further.  If you are not selected within a year, your application will be returned.