Last Updated on January 27, 2021

Applications are being accepted as of Wednesday January 27 for current and former Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders in Canada to apply for an Open Work Permit to help them gather the experience they need to qualify for permanent residence.

Initially announced earlier in January by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, the new public policy is aimed at former international students who had their opportunity to qualify for permanent residence jeopardized by COVID-19.

Candidates with a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, and are still in Canada, will have a six-month window to apply for an 18-month Open Work Permit to help them continue to seek the work experience they need to qualify to stay in Canada long-term.

Who Can Apply?

Candidates must meet the following 5 requirements:

1) The candidate’s PGWP expired on or after January 30, 2020, or will expire within 4 months from the date of application for the Open Work Permit.

2) The candidates was in Canada as of January 27, 2021, when the public policy took effect, and stayed in Canada since then.

3) The candidate meets one of the following:

a) Has temporary resident status (for example valid PGWP, visitor record or other permit).

b) Has lost their temporary resident status, but applied to restore it.

c) Has lost their temporary resident status, but will apply to restore it at the same time as applying for this Open Work Permit.

4) The candidate must include in their application that they are applying for an Open Work Permit under this specific public policy.

5) The candidate must have a valid passport. The work permit will be issued for up to 18 months from the date of approval or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Read More

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Why Is This Policy Needed?

International students qualify for a PGWP based on the length of their in-Canada studies at a Designated Learning Institution.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates who studied in Canada for between eight months and two years qualified for a PGWP the same as the length of their studies, while candidates studying for two years or more qualify for a three-year work permit.

Due to COVID-19, a number of changes have been made to the requirements, allowing candidates forced to study remotely from their home countries to still accrue time towards their PGWP.

Once working in Canada on a PGWP, former students can then gather crucial experience to put towards a permanent residence application.

However, PGWP holders who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, were left high and dry, unable to gather the required work experience.

Now these candidates will be able to qualify for an Open Work Permit, giving them extra time to gather work experience and qualify for permanent residence. 

International Students Crucial to Canada

According to Ottawa, international student are worth $21 billion per year to Canada’s economy.

The federal government considers them blue chip candidates for permanent residence: They are young, have Canadian education and work experience, plus language skills and knowledge of life in Canada. More than 58,000 international graduates became permanent residents in 2019.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says up to 52,000 former international students will qualify under the new policy.  Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021.

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