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The special program is effective January 27, 2021 and applies to current and former Postgraduate Work Permit holders
Posted on - Jan 12, 2021

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

On January 8, 2021 Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Honourable Marco Mendicino, announced a unique COVID-friendly work permit program for current and former holders of Post Graduate Work Permits (PGWPs). International students who complete their education in Canada are eligible for work permits of 1 to 3 years duration depending upon the length of their program of study. However, the pandemic had a dire effect on PGWP holders who either lost their jobs or were unable to find employment upon graduation. Recognizing both the significant impact to international students as well the vital and much needed labour source that they represent to the Canadian economy, this special program will enable students in Canada with either expired or current permits, to apply for an 18-month open work permit. This will enable PGWP applicants to obtain further work experience to qualify for permanent residence.

International students are a significant component of Canada’s immigration program. The demographic projections have shown for decades that with Canada’s aging population, we will not be able to sustain our economy without high levels of immigration to provide for our labour force. It is no surprise that in November Minister Mendicino announced an increase in annual immigration levels from approximately 320,000 immigrants in 2020 to 400,000 for 2021 and beyond.

Students play a key role in meeting Canada’s immigration targets. Following the introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) in June of 2002, government officials recognized the positive attributes of international students as prospective immigrants. In order to be accepted to study at Canadian colleges and universities, they need to have a high level of proficiency in English or French. While completing their studies, they learn first-hand the Canadian ways of doing things. Following graduation and after obtaining some Canadian work experience, international students have a high level of integration into Canadian society. Both the PGWP program and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) immigration stream were introduced in 2008 to keep international students in Canada as immigrants. This new program will further these goals in the face of COVID-19.

To be eligible to apply for an open work permit under this new program, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • 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 time that they apply;
  • Be physically present in Canada; and
  • Have valid status in Canada or be applying to restore your status.

This program will be in effect from January 27 to July 27, 2021. The details of the program will be announced on January 27, 2021 on IRCC’s website.

Minister Mendicino’s announcement last week comes as welcome news to Canada’s international student community who has made considerable effort and investment in Canada to obtain their education. This unique program recognizes this reality.

As stated in his news release announcing this program: “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

Read the Minister’s full announcement here:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/01/government-of-canada-announces-new-policy-to-help-former-international-students-live-in-work-in-and-continue-contributing-to-canada.html

For further information about Canada’s international student program, please refer to our previous blogs:

1. Qualifying for Canada’s Express Entry: Will Students Make the Grade?

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/qualifying-for-express-entry/

2. Comprehensive Ranking Score – How do Students Fare?

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/the-comprehensive-ranking-score-how-do-students-fare/

3. Are International Students Allowed to Work While Studying in Canada?

https://canadian-visa-lawyer.com/students-beware-are-you-allowed-to-work-while-studying-in-canada/


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 25 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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