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In 2008, Canada created a Postgraduate Work Permit (PGWP) program to help international graduates stay in the country after studying. Before then, the permits they got were strict on how long they could stay and where they could work. PGWP changed that, letting graduates stick around for up to three years without needing a job right away. For international students, the Postgraduate Work Permit Program makes Canada an even more attractive destination. Since the early 2000s, the government has developed specific programs, such as the PGWP, to encourage international students to transition to permanent residency status immediately following graduation. It was possible to transition to worker status after finding a job, but the process was not regulated. This article will provide insights into the PGWP application process to help you understand the program and the associated rules and policies.

What is a Postgraduate Work Permit?

The PGWP is an open work permit that allows international students from Canadian DLI to work for any employer after study. With PGWP, you can gain relevant skilled Canadian work experience in NOC skill type 0, A or B. As a recent graduate, you benefit from this experience by qualifying for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) in Express Entry.

Key facts international students should know about PGWP

  • Postgraduate work permit allows international students to gain work experience in Canada, which is crucial for future immigration applications.
  • To qualify for PGWP, you must have been a full-time student throughout your program.
  • You cannot renew PGWP, but extensions may be possible under certain circumstances.
  • You can maintain legal status while awaiting the PGWP extension decision.
  • Some graduates can work full-time while waiting for their PGWP application to be processed, even if they leave and re-enter Canada.
  • Study permits become invalid 90 days after the end of the study program, so apply for PGWP within 180 days of program completion.
  • If your study permit expires before applying for a Postgraduate work permit, you can leave Canada and apply from your home country or submit an application from within Canada.
  • Spouses/partners of PGWP holders may be eligible for a work permit under certain conditions. 

Study permits become invalid 90 days after the end of the study program, so it is essential to apply for PGWP within 180 days of program completion.


Postgraduate Work Permit Canada New Rules

On 22nd January 2024, IRCC announced that international students pursuing a study program in a public-private partnership (PPP) institution as part of a curriculum licensing agreement will not be eligible for PGWPs after graduation. For Masters graduates and graduates from short graduate-level programs, work permits will now be three (3) years maximum. The PGWP cap on PPP institutions will reduce the number of international student applications by 35% overall.

Who Can Apply for a Postgraduate Work Permit

  • If you recently graduated from a full-time program at a designated Canadian learning institution that awards degrees, diplomas, or certificates (DLI).

Important update for students considering public-private partnerships! From 1st September 2024, enrolling at one of these institutions will not qualify you for a Postgraduate work permit after graduation. But if you are already a student in a program before that date, you can still apply for a PGWP after you graduate.

How to Apply

You can apply for a Postgraduate work permit from inside Canada if eligible. You have up to 180 days after graduation to apply for a PGWP. When you apply, you must confirm the following:

  • that you attended and completed your program
  • the name of your program
  • the length of your program

You can confirm these by submitting any of the following:

  • your degree or diploma
  • your transcript or
  • an official letter from your school

If your status expires while waiting for your marks: If your study permit will expire before you get your marks, you have two (2) options. You can either

  • apply for a visitor record to stay in Canada longer or
  • leave Canada and apply for your Postgraduate work permit

If you stay in Canada and let your permit expire, you must apply to restore your status as a student before applying for your PGWP. To restore your status, you must pay additional fees.


How much does a postgraduate work permit cost?

The fee for a post-graduation work permit is CDN$155; however, you must also pay the CDN$100.00 Open Work Permit Holder fee.

Get your documents 

Before you can apply for a Postgraduate work permit, you need one of the following to prove you have completed your studies:

  • a degree or diploma
  • an official letter from your school
  • an official transcript or a copy of your transcript from your school’s website

How you can apply for a Postgraduate Work Permit depends on where you apply. In most cases, you must apply online.

How Long is a PGWP?

Permit length depends on the study program, except for Master’s degree graduates. A written confirmation of program length from the eligible DLI is required.

Remember, a PGWP cannot extend past your passport expiry date. So, ensure your passport is valid for the PGWP duration before applying.

Can I Bring My Spouse or Common-Law Partner? 

Spouses and common-law partners may accompany international students and may be eligible for a study permit or a visitor visa. However, in most cases, they will not be eligible to work full-time in Canada. Partners and spouses of students in graduate (Master’s and doctorate) and professional degree-granting programs are eligible for an open work permit. Unfortunately, as of 2024, spouses and common-law partners of students in other levels of studies are no longer eligible for an open work permit


As an international student, your future is open to many opportunities, and a Postgraduate Work Permit can be a great way to get Canadian work experience. With recent updates, like longer work permit extensions and changes in eligibility for spouses/partners, it is essential to keep up-to-date and seize these chances. We hope this information has cleared up some of your questions about the program, but to learn more, check our blog archive for related posts.

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