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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Public policy change to

the Post-Graduate Work Permit

by Michael Scott

The government of Canada has been taking a number of positive steps in response to the threat and impact of COVID. Many are aware of the travel ban that changes in response to the threat level and infection rate. But are you aware of the positive steps that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has undertaken to ensure the country remains a favourable destination for immigrant applicants?

Unlike the former American government of Donald Trump, Canada has remained proactive in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest from countries abroad. The reality is that we need immigration in order to maintain a healthy economy and economic growth into the future. In 1971, there were 6.6 people of working age for each senior compared with three Canadian workers for every retired worker today. By 2035 it is projected that there will be only two workers for every retiree. This situation is dire and needs redress. One immediate response was the government’s announcement on January 8, 2021, that it would be instituting an immediate public policy change addressing the duration of the post-graduate work permit (PGWP).

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, was quick to point out the positive implications of the public policy change to PGWP.

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

The change is exciting for expired and expiring PGWPs. Up until the announcement, there was no extension on the PGWP and status of the holder ended with the work permit. It is important for all temporary residents to ensure that their status is in force and some expiring PGWP holders have applied for an alternative LMIA specific work permit; have applied to the MPNP; have applied to change their status from temporary worker to visitor; and still others are out of status, wondering what their options are. It is possible to apply for restoration of status within 90 days of the expiration date. The details of the change in public policy regarding PGWPs were recently announced and many people want to know more about the requirements.

As noted above, it is now possible for former international foreign students with expired or expiring Post-Graduate Work Permits to apply for a new work permit. The new change gives new hope for a way of proceeding to PGWP holders who have lost their jobs or seen their hours cut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign nationals in Canada affected by the pandemic with an expired or expiring PGWP are being given a unique chance to apply for another work permit. These work permits will be valid for 18 months and allow international foreign student applicants the chance to remain in Canada, continue to seek employment and apply for permanent residence directly through Express Entry (Canada Experience Class) or apply first for nomination through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program.

IRCC estimates that as many as 52,000 graduates with expired or expiring PGWPs could benefit from the public policy change. Out of approximately 61,000 PGWP holders whose work permit had an expiry date between January and December 2020, only half have become permanent residents or have a permanent residence application in process. Please note the following requirements for applicants:

  • The applicant 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

The applications will be open from January 27, 2021 to July 27, 2021. Details on how to apply will be added to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website on January 27, 2021.

Let us all take a collective sigh of relief and wait for the details of the public policy change to follow.

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:

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