The Canadian government has a new policy in place to help former international students who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic while living in Canada.
Since January 27, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been accepting applications from Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders who have seen their permits expire or their permits are about to expire.
The purpose of this policy is to give PGWP holders more time to get the Canadian work experience they need to then become eligible for a Canadian immigration program. Federal and provincial governments place great emphasis on retaining former international students as immigrants. The reason for this is government research shows that former international students tend to integrate quickly into the Canadian job market upon gaining permanent residence.
Given the recession caused by the COVID-19 crisis, PGWP holders may be struggling to obtain the work experience that they need for Canadian immigration. This new public policy will allow them to obtain open work permits that will be valid for up to 18 months.
IRCC estimates up to 52,000 PGWP holders may benefit from this policy. Candidates have until July 27, 2021 to submit an application for this new work permit.
Eligibility criteria includes:
- possess a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that will expire within 4 months of the date of your application
- you were in Canada on January 27, 2021 when this policy took effect and remain in the country
- you have valid temporary status in Canada, or have applied to restore your status, or will be applying to restore your status
- you mention in your application you are applying for this new open work permit
- you have a valid passport. IRCC encourages you to ensure your passport is valid for at least 18 months from the date your application is approved. If your passport expires in under 18 months, the open work permit you obtain will be for the corresponding length of time as your passport’s validity period.
The PGWP is popular among former international students since research shows the majority of them want to apply for Canadian immigration. Those who graduate from a Designated Learning Institution (DLIs) may apply to obtain a PGWP for a maximum period of three years.
The post-graduate work experience they gain in Canada is highly coveted under many of Canada’s over 100 different skilled worker pathways. The likes of Express Entry, Quebec Experience Program, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) all reward candidates who have Canadian experience.
Generally speaking, one can only get the PGWP once in their lifetime. This has meant that those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may not currently be in a position to remain in Canada as immigrants due to the weaker labour market since they may have been laid off, struggled to secure work, or have seen their work hours cut.
This policy is part of Canada’s overall efforts to support high levels of immigration during and after the pandemic. Canada is aiming to welcome over 400,000 new immigrants per year under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023. Enabling international graduates to pursue Canadian work experience during the pandemic will provide Canada with a larger pool of global talent to choose from as it seeks to achieve its high immigration targets in support of its post-COVID economic recovery.
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