Choices you have if your PGWP is about to expire.

On December 7, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made a significant announcement regarding changes to Canada’s International Student Program. 

The highlight of this announcement was the decision to no longer extend the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) for international students whose PGWP expires after or on 31st December 2023. The PGWP has been an essential program allowing international students to work in Canada for up to three years after completing their studies.

98,000 PGWP holders obtained permanent residency status in 2022. This amounted to about 82% of all temporary residents who changed their status to permanent that year.

Furthermore, the IRCC projected that 127,000 licences would expire and that there would be 268,000 PGWP holders in Canada in 2023.

This policy change signifies the end of PGWP extensions, which have been a vital pathway for international students to gain valuable Canadian work experience and potentially transition to permanent residency.One of the immediate implications of this decision is that international students will now face stricter timelines to secure employment after completing their studies.

If you’re an international graduate with a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) that expires on or before December 31, 2023, you might be contemplating your options for remaining in Canada and finding employment. Thankfully, the Canadian government provides a number of options. In the interim, as the PGWP holders wait for an ITA and for the IRCC to review the application, they could nevertheless demand that the candidate cease working.

Three main alternatives to adopt if your PGWP is expiring 

Visitor Record

A document known as a visitor record enables you to remain in Canada for an extended period of time whether you are a visitor, an employee permitted to work there without a work permit, or a student permitted to study there without a study permit.Applying for a visitor record at least 30 days prior to the expiration of your PGWP will allow you to remain in Canada. IRCC says a visitor record is typically valid for six months, but this may vary from case to case.

Apply for another work permit

While they wait for an Express Entry draw, candidates may also apply for a new work visa. Those who wish to continue working can look into getting a different kind of Open Work Permit, however it takes longer and costs more.

In order to acquire a closed work permit, candidates might want to convince their employer to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).  This implies that the permit holder can carry on working in Canada, although they are not allowed to work for a different company.

If you already submitted a PR application

You might be qualified to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) if you have previously filed your application for permanent residency but have not heard back from the IRCC.Candidates who have applied through economic immigration programs, such as those under the Agri-Food Pilot Program, Quebec Skilled Workers, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), or Express Entry, and are awaiting a response, are eligible for the BOWP.

Rather than extending the PGWP, the IRCC plans to concentrate on offering direct pathways for international students to get permanent residence in Canada. This change attempts to make sure that international students have more viable options for residing in Canada once they finish their studies and to be in line with Canada’s long-term immigration goals.

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