Special measure for PGWP holders
by Michael Scott
The department of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) gas been working on a number of initiatives to increase the number of landings in Canada. The country needs more workers to grow the economy and has turned in recent years to the vast supply of overseas foreign worker, international students, and visitors to find the numbers the country needs. Starting April 6, 2023, some current and former Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit. There may be no better time than the present to check out the opportunity presented by IRCC. The application window will remain open until December 31, 2023.
The opportunity is something that goes beyond the customary PGWP, which is not renewable, and holders of an expiring PGWP had no choice but to leave the country or find another way to remain in Canada, such as applying for an employer-specific work permit if you have an LMIA approved job offer. The specific public policy introduced in April gives PGWP holders other options. If you can remain in status as workers, you stand a better chance of qualifying for Express Entry or the Provincial Nominee Programs. In 2022 Canada hosted a record 800,000 international students and almost 98,000 PGWP holders or 82 per cent of those who transitioned to permanent residence.
IRCC has taken proactive steps to notify PGWP holders about their public policy opportunity. The department identified 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada by the end of 2022 who may be eligible for the special measure. It is estimated that 127,000 of this number will expire in 2023. Of this number 67,000 have already applied for permanent residence but the others should apply for a new Open Work Permit under the new measures.
Potential applicants are reminded of the benefits of obtaining an Open Work Permit. Eligible workers will be able to work in any occupation for an employer of their choice in Canada for up to 18 months. Check out the IRCC website for more information (canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/permit/post-graduation-work-permit-holders_html). You have the chance to select a simplified process to extend your work permit, or apply to extend your work permit, or apply to restore your work permit. It even makes things easier for those who are not eligible to apply for a work permit.
First you should ensure that any e-mail you have from IRCC is bona fide. It should be headed, “2023 Special Measure: Opt-in for Valid PGWP Holders,” and the e-mail should end in “@cic.gc.ca” or “@notifications.canada.ca.” If this applies to you then you must respond before May 20, 2023, and apply before your work permit expires. If you have not been notified, you may still apply if you reside in Canada and log into your IRCC Secure Account. If you don’t have a secure account, you need to register for one and link to your most recent PGWP application before May 20, 2023. When you have the Secure Account, log into your IRCC secure account and select “post-graduation work permit holder.” Extend your open work permit (up to an additional 18 months) and “opt in” to remain in the country and work an additional 18 months. If you don’t pursue this option before your work permit or eligibility expires, you would have to apply for a new work permit (LMIA etc.).
The public policy change has been in effect since April 6, 2023, so it is time to get busy. IRCC has presented PGWP holders with a unique opportunity, so do not let it expire.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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