The Government of Canada recently announced that former international students who hold, or held, a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) will have the opportunity to apply for an open work permit.

Foreign nationals in Canada affected by the pandemic with an expired or expiring PGWP will have the chance to apply. The open work permits will be valid for 18 months, allowing former international students to remain in Canada and continue to seek employment.

“This new policy means that young students from abroad who have studied here can stay and find work while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow,” said Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here; we want you to stay here.”

To apply for an open work permit under this new policy, an applicant must:

  • Have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in four months or less from the date they apply
  • Still be in Canada
  • Have a valid temporary status or be applying to restore their status.

“Whether as nurses on the pandemic’s front lines or as founders of the most promising start-ups, international students are giving back to communities across Canada as we continue to fight against the pandemic,” Mendicino said. “Their status may be temporary, but the contributions of international students are lasting.”

International students contribute more than $21 billion annually to the Canadian economy. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for international students. Most notably, for those with a PGWP, the pandemic’s disruption in the labour market has jeopardized their chances of getting the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence.

Applications will be open until July 27, 2021.

For more information about the policy, or to apply, visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.


Published on Feb. 2, 2021.
Last updated Feb. 25, 2021.