Last Updated on February 12, 2021

Canada is to allow international students to complete their entire programs online from their home countries and still qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

The new step, announced Friday by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is the latest is a slew of measures designed to address the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on foreign students.

An IRCC statement said the new measures come amid the “prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months”.

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Ottawa had already allowed online learning to count towards the length of a PGWP, which is usually calculated based on the length of in-Canada studies. 

Furthermore, former international students who hold or held a PGWP have also been offered Open Work Permits to allow them to gather the necessary experience to qualify for permanent resident.

“With the prospect of many international students continuing online learning from abroad for several more months, temporary changes to the PGWP Program put in place earlier in the pandemic are being extended and expanded,” an IRCC statement said.

Under the latest changes, a student can complete their studies at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) from abroad and still qualify to come to Canada to work. The measures apply to all international students enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, and meet all other PGWP criteria, IRCC says.

“This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities while ensuring that Canada meets the urgent needs of our economy for today and tomorrow,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino. 

“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 qualify for the new measures, international students must:

  • Be enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program.
  • Have begun, or will begin, a program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or whose program was already in progress in March 2020.
  • Have a study permit or approval for a study permit, or applied for a study permit prior to starting their program and are eventually approved.
  • Meet all other PGWP criteria.

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