The situation

New, relaxed guidelines have been implemented for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP).

A closer look – new guidelines

  • Deadline to apply. The deadline to apply for the PGWP has been extended to six months from the date the educational institute indicates that the student has met the requirements for completion of their program of study, up from 90 days. Calculation of the 180 days begins either the date the student’s final marks are issued or from the date the student receives a formal written notification of program completion, whichever is earlier.
  • Valid study permit. Foreign nationals will no longer have to hold a valid study permit when applying for a PGWP; the study permit now only needs to be valid at some point during the 180-day period.
  • Applications submitted before February 14, 2019. The old guidelines will continue to apply to applications received prior to this date. However, foreign nationals who had their applications rejected under the old guidelines can resubmit an application under the new guidelines, if still eligible.
  • Applications submitted on or after February 14, 2019. The new guidelines will apply to any applications submitted on or after February 14, 2019.

Reminders on existing and continuing policies for graduates

  • Full-time work possible. Graduates who apply for a work permit, such as a Post-Graduation Work Permit, before the expiry of their study permit are eligible to work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their application.
  • Family member work rights. Spouses and common-law partners of Post-Graduation Work Permit holders may be eligible to apply for a work permit for any employer at any location in Canada (known as an ‘open work permit’), as long as they qualify under the spousal work permit guidelines.
  • Port of entry and overseas applications. Foreign nationals may apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit at the port of entry or from overseas.


These changes should make it easier for students to stay in Canada and obtain work permits after graduation since they will have more time to submit their applications.


  • PGWP program. The program allows students who have graduated from eligible Canadian institutions to obtain an open work permit for up to three years.
  • Path to permanent residence. Students under this program can gain additional points based on their Canadian work experience which will help them qualify for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class, which is part of the Express Entry program. Compared to many other countries, it is much easier to obtain permanent residence in Canada after obtaining student and post-graduate permits.

Looking ahead

The federal government’s relaxed guidelines will continue to encourage skilled students to remain in the country. Along with the Express Entry program qualifications, these changes indicate the federal government’s intention to grow the population of the country while addressing labour demands.