Canada is Extending International Students' Post-Graduate Work Permits for 18 Months
If your PGWP has expired, or is expiring soon, you can extend it another 18 months so you can stay in Canada longer.
Canada has once again announced an extension of post-graduate work permits (PGWPs) for international students who have finished their studies and want to stay in Canada to work. This latest extension, announced by the Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, will let graduates with PGWPs that expired in 2022, as well as PGWPs that will expire in 2023, to lengthen their stay another 18 months.
What is a PGWP?
A PGWP is a post-graduation work permit: a document that permits an international student educated in Canada to stay here and work after graduating. PGWPs usually last two to three years, and are not typically extendable. Still, in the wake of the pandemic, PGWPs have been extended before.
Who is eligible for a PGWP extension?
International students who graduated from a Canadian school, who received a PGWP that either expired in 2022, or will expire in 2023, should be eligible for this new extension.
PGWP holders will receive information about updating their details online, extending their permit. Extensions will start being processed on April 6, so keep your eyes on your email as this date approaches. You'll receive an "interim work authorization" while your new PGWP is processed.
Canada is currently home to over 250,000 graduates with a PGWP. Roughly 127,000 of these permits will expire this year, if not extended.
If you have a PGWP, and have already applied for permanent residence in Canada, you won't need a PGWP extension.
Bear in mind, no deadline has been announced for the extension program. If you are invited to apply for an extension, be sure to do so as soon as you're able. You don't want the extension program to end before you have a chance to apply!
What is the PGWP "restoration period"?
Normally, when a PGWP expires, you have up to 90 days to restore it by contacting Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. For this extension, it doesn't matter if your PGWP is outside the 90-day restoration period. When you're contacted, you can still apply for an extension.
Why is Canada extending graduated students' PGWPs?
The short answer is, Canada's doing its best to fill long-term gaps in the workforce. Letting more educated people stay in the country, contributing to the economy and building a life is important for a country like Canada with an aging population.
On top of that, the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship is currently facing a massive backlog of applications for citizenship and permanent residence. By automatically extending PGWPs, the government can take some pressure off employers who might fear losing their staff, as well as employees who want to stay in Canada but can't get their paperwork processed in time.
Other programs that help graduates earn permanent residency in Canada have been on hold for months, like the Canadian Experience Class. It's not clear when this program will be relaunched.
Will PGWPs be permanently renewable in the future?
Some students and activist groups want to see the government offer a version of the PGWP that's renewable in perpetuity, which would lighten the load of graduates who want to work in Canada but don't have permanent residency yet.
According to the Toronto Star, some employers and immigration consultants are charging graduates for paperwork to help them stay in the country: thousands of dollars, in some cases. Permanent renewability would help combat these unethical practices.
If the PGWP program continues as it is, we may see another wave of graduates requiring extensions in 2024. Whatever the solution, students and graduates deserve a more reliable process that minimizes stress and uncertainty, and helps skilled, talented graduates stay to help build Canada.
So, if you have an expired, or expiring, PGWP, and you want to remain in Canada, at least in the short term, be sure to keep your eyes open for a PGWP extension email from the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship over the next few weeks. Remember, you'll be able to update your file starting in early April. Best of luck!
Learn more about Canada's post-graduate work permits