Attention all post-graduate work permit (“PGWP”) holders you can now extend your stay in Canada!
Posted on - Feb 13, 2021

By Catherine Sas Q.C. and Preet Gill

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Preet Gill

The Canadian Government is committed to supporting international students through the challenges of the Coronavirus (“Covid-19”) pandemic. On January 8, 2021, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”), the Honourable Marco Mendicino, announced a temporary policy to help former international students remain in Canada to live, work, and continue to integrate into Canadian society.

Under the new temporary policy, international students who are currently in Canada with an expired PGWP or a PGWP that is about to expire, can now apply for a one-time 18-month open work permit.

“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”
— The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

International students are a vital component to Canada’s economic future, as they contribute over $21 billion annually to the Canadian economy as well as provide greatly needed skilled workers. IRCC estimates that over “52,000 graduates with expired or expiring PGWP’s could benefit from the new public policy.”

For many international students in Canada, a PGWP is the means to obtaining Canadian permanent resident status. PGWP’s are a one-time opportunity for international students to remain in Canada and work full-time for up to three years after graduating.

The new policy recognizes and addresses challenges that PGWP holders had to face due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many recent graduates have been disadvantaged due to an unstable labour market: they have either lost their jobs, seen reduced hours or have been unable to find employment at all. Without stable full-time employment, many international students will not be able to qualify for Canadian permanent residence. To off-set these setbacks, as of January 27, 2021, international students in Canada have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit that will be valid for 18-months. Applications supported by the temporary public policy can be submitted until July 27, 2021.

To be eligible for the open work permit, international students must submit clear evidence that they:

  • have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020; or
  • have a PGWP that will expire in 4 months or less from the date they apply;
  • be physically present in Canada; and
  • have valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status; and
  • have a valid passport of 18 months or more to benefit fully from the policy. The guidelines say that if your passport is only valid for a lesser amount that’s all you get!

This temporary policy allows PGWP holders to enter the Canadian labour market with considerable flexibility, as the new work permit is an open work permit. The additional 18 months of Canadian work experience is designed to allow PGWP holders further time to gain transferable skills in Canada as well as strengthen their language proficiency in order to qualify for permanent residence in Canada.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented many international students with challenges and uncertainty surrounding their immigration status in Canada. The introduction of this temporary policy confirms IRCC’s recognition of the vital role international students play in Canada’s economy and it provides international students with a further opportunity to build a future in Canada as permanent residents. Eligible applicants must develop an immigration strategy, understand the process and make timely applications to extend their stay in Canada before it’s too late!

Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 30 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 9 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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