Canada: Changes To The Post Graduate Work Permit Program For International Students

The Post Graduate Work Permit Program ("PGWP Program") allows international students who have graduated from a Canadian designated learning institution to temporarily work in Canada for up to three years. Upon gaining qualified Canadian work experience, the international students may then be eligible to apply for permanent residency. On February 14, 2019, the Immigration Department ("IRCC") published new Program Delivery Instructions for the PGWP Program. The new Program Delivery Instructions became effective on February 14, 2019. This blog will outline the key changes to the PGWP Program.

Key Changes to the PGWP Program

Prior to February 14, 2019, international students must apply for PGWPs while they hold a valid Study Permit and within 90 days from the date the school issued their final marks. The new Program Delivery Instructions have been updated to include a series of facilitative measures, including the removal of the requirement to hold a valid Study Permit when applying for a PGWP, and the extension of the deadline to apply from 90 days to 6 months. As such, international students can now return home after their studies prior to deciding whether or not to apply for a PGWP. Further, the PGWP application can now be submitted either: (i) in Canada when the international student has legal status in Canada; or (ii) outside of Canada when the international student is no longer living in Canada.

What are the Practical Implications for Employers?

In the past, international students were required to apply for a PGWP while they hold a valid Study Permit. Under the new Program Delivery Instructions, international students may apply for a PGWP without a valid Study Permit; in other words, a student can take some time after graduating to find employment in Canada. However, employers should be aware that when an international student applies for a PGWP without a valid Study Permit, the international student usually cannot commence work in Canada until a PGWP is issued.

Conclusion

The new Program Delivery Instructions for the PGWP Program provides international students with more time to apply for a PGWP. However, employers will need to perform new hire verifications to ensure the candidates are eligible to work in Canada pursuant to section 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, while the PGWP application is pending.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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