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Post-Graduate Work Permit Program Allows Students to Stay and Work in Canada

It’s graduation season, and all across Canada, students are completing their studies and preparing to enter the work force. For the thousands of international students who are graduating from Canadian post-secondary institutions, Citizenship and Immigration Canada offers a program that can allow them to remain in Canada to work in their field of study.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program allows most international graduates to stay in Canada for a period up to the length of time they were studying in Canada, but no longer than three years. Additionally, in order to participate in the program, the length of your program of study must have been at least eight months long. For example, if the official length of your program of study is:

  • less than two years but more than eight months
    • you may get a work permit for a period no longer than the length of your program of study (for example, if you studied for nine months, a work permit may be issued for a period of nine months)
  • two years or more
    • a work permit may be issued for three years

In contrast to other kinds of work permits, the Post-Graduation Work Permit is an “open permit” not tied to any particular job offer or employer. A holder can work anywhere in Canada for any employer and can switch jobs at any time during the validity of the permit.

Post-Graduate Work Permit Eligibility

To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students:

  • Must have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program (please see note below) and must have graduated from:
    • a public post-secondary educational institution (university, college, or CEGEP); or
    • a Private post-secondary educational institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and receives at least 50 per cent of its financing for operations from government grants; or
    • a Canadian private educational institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees but only if you are enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree as authorized by the province and not in all programs of study offered by the private institution.
  • Must apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their academic institution that they have met the requirements of their program.
  • Must have completed and passed the program of study and received written notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • Must have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.

There are unique requirements for graduates from institutions in Quebec, and there are also very specific exclusions for students participating in certain student exchange, scholarship, distance-learning, or fellowship programs. Furthermore, each student can only receive one Post-Graduate Work Permit no matter how many courses of study they may have taken in Canada.

A Step Towards Permanent Residency

For those who qualify, the Post-Graduate Work Permit program affords an excellent opportunity to pursue career goals in Canada, and can serve as the first step in obtaining permanent residence under many of the work-related programs – such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class — designed to encourage skilled and educated workers to contribute to the Canadian economy.

To determine if you are eligible to participate in the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program, and to ensure that your application is prepared and processed correctly, you should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can guide you through the process of extending your time in Canada. Toronto immigration lawyer Larry Butkowsky can help. His legal practice focuses solely on immigration law and he can assist you with all of your immigration questions, concerns, and issues.

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