Last Updated on January 10, 2021

Canada is to offer Post Graduation Work Permit holders the chance to qualify for an Open Work Permit to help gather the experience they need to qualify for permanent residence.

A new public policy announced by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on Friday January 8 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.

“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,” Mendicino said. 

“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”

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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.

Who Qualifies For the New Open Work Permit?

Candidates 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

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