Many international students who complete post-secondary education in Canada wish to stay and obtain Canadian work experience.
Once they have completed their studies in an eligible program at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, international graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to work in Canada.
In its effort to retain international students, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operates a Post-Graduate Work Permit Program. Under this program, international graduates may obtain an open work permit — for up to three years! This allows them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry without the requirement of a Canadian job offer at the time of applying.
International students can only receive one Post-Graduation Work Permit from IRCC, so its important to take advantage of that opportunity.
To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must have:
- Completed studies in Canada in an academic, vocational or professional training program that is at least eight months long at an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI) List.
- Study program must lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- Held full-time student status in Canada during every academic session of the program or programs of study completed and included as part of their post-graduation work permit application;
- Some exceptions may be made for leave from studies and final academic session.
- Received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the applicant has met the requirements to complete their program of study;
- The transcript and official letter must be included in a post-graduation work permit application.
- Graduated from:
- a public post-secondary institution, such as
- a college
- a trade or technical school
- a university
- CEGEP (in Quebec)
- a private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec;
- a private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer and results in the issuance of a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP); or
- Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree) but only if the student was enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province.
Note: Graduates of vocational and professional training programs in Quebec must meet additional criteria outlined by IRCC depending on the type of diploma issued.
Deadline to Apply: 180 days!
In 2019, the Government of Canada extended the time to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit from 90 to 180 days (six months) after obtaining a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that the requirements to complete the program of study have been met.
When applying, applicants must demonstrate that they either hold a valid study permit, held a study permit, or were authorized to study in Canada without the requirement to obtain a study permit under paragraphs 188(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Required Supporting Documents
While program officers may request additional documents, two important documents required at the time of applying are a letter confirming the completion of the program of study and an official transcript by their DLI.
International students are ineligible to apply if they:
- have previously been issued a post-graduation work permit
- received funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
- participated in the Government of Canada Awards Program funded by GAC
- obtained the Equal Opportunity Scholarship, Canada–Chile
- participated in the Canada–China Scholars’ Exchange Program
- participated in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program
- completed the majority of the credits toward the completion of their program of study by distance learning
- completed a program of study delivered by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada, regardless of the length of stay in Canada.
There are a few cases where international students may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit if they have completed an accelerated or distance learning program or requested a leave from studies.