How to Get Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit


One of the many advantages of studying in Canada is its Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program. An international student may be able to apply for this program if they’ve completed an eligible study program at one of Canada’s designated learning institutions (DLI). Want to learn more? We’ll dive into what a PGWP is, who can apply, and PGWP length below.

Note: This blog is provided as information only, and is subject to change as policies are updated. For official guidance relating to Canadian student visas and immigration, visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website, or connect with a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant.

Ready to start your international student journey? ApplyBoard’s experienced team is here to help!

What is a PGWP?

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that international students can apply for after graduating. An “open” work permit means that students aren’t tied to a specific job or employer. Plus, for students interested in staying in Canada, work experience enabled by a PGWP can count towards qualifying for permanent residence.

To apply, students need to have graduated from an eligible study program at a designated learning institution (DLI). You’ll also need to prove that you completed your program by providing your degree, diploma, transcript, or an official letter from your academic institution. Some PGWP applicants may also need to supply other supporting documents, or take a medical exam.

Note: Not all DLIs, or programs at DLIs, are PGWP-eligible. To see if your program is, check the Government of Canada’s DLI list.

Graduates holding a PGWP may:

  • Be self-employed
  • Work full-time anywhere in Canada
  • Work part-time anywhere in Canada

Who Can Apply for a PGWP?

PGWP applicants must have graduated from a full-time study program at one of Canada’s DLIs that led to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

Starting on September 1, 2024, students who enrol at public-private partnership institutions are no longer eligible to apply for PGWPs. However, students who are already enrolled in a study program at a public-private partnership before September 1, 2024, may still be eligible for a PGWP.

What’s That Term?

Public-private partnerships are an agreement between a public college and an affiliate private college. Public colleges licence their curriculum to the private college, so while students attend classes at a private college, they graduate with a diploma or certificate from a public institution.

You may apply for a PGWP from inside Canada or from another country. You must apply within 180 days after graduating from your Canadian study program. In most cases, you must apply online for a PGWP. 

You must either have a valid study permit, a visitor record to bridge the gap between your studies and the start of your PGWP, or have renewed your student status to apply. We’ll look closer at each of those options in the question below.

Studying in Quebec? Check the IRCC website to see how PGWP eligibility criteria has changed for some institutions.

What If My Study Permit Expires Before I Get My Marks, Degree, or Diploma? 

Before your study permit expires, you can:

Once your study permit expires, you have up to 90 days after that to apply for a PGWP—but you’ll also have to restore your status as a student, which costs an additional C$379 as of March 2024. If you don’t apply to renew your student status within 90 days of its expiry, you must leave Canada.

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How Long Does a PGWP Last?

A PGWP may be issued for as short as eight months or as long as three years. It is not renewable.

The length of the applicant’s program of study in Canada will be considered—using supporting documents for confirmation—to determine how long their PGWP will last. Regularly scheduled breaks in the study program, such as winter and summer holidays, will also be factored into the PGWP’s duration.

Extending a PGWP 

To streamline the application process, make sure your passport is valid until after your PGWP ends. If your passport expires earlier, the government can only issue you a PGWP that is valid until your passport expires. While it’s possible to extend a PGWP that ended prematurely due to an expired passport, students can typically only apply for an extension when they’re told to do so by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and must apply on paper.

How Long is a PGWP?

Except for master’s degree graduates, permit length depends on the length of the study program. Program length must be confirmed in writing, like an official letter or transcript, from the eligible DLI.

Remember, a PGWP cannot extend past your passport’s expiry date. So, ensure that your passport is valid for the full possible PGWP duration before applying.

How Long is the Study Program?

Eight Months to Two Years

PGWP Duration: Up to or matching the study program’s length

  • For example, if the program was 10 months, you can get a PGWP of up to 10 months.
  • Master’s Degree Exception: Starting on Feb. 15, 2024, “students who graduate from master’s degree programs of less than 2 years (8 months minimum) may be eligible for a 3 year PGWP.” The study program must meet all other PGWP requirements.
  • Accelerated Study: If you complete an eligible program on an accelerated schedule (like finishing a 12-month program in 10 months), you’ll be eligible for a PGWP the length of the original program. In this case, your PGWP could be up to 12 months long.

Two Years or More

PGWP Duration: Up to three years

More than One Program within Two Years

PGWP Duration: Combine the length of each program

  • Each program of study must adhere to all PGWP program eligibility requirements, and be at least eight months in length.
  • If the combined length of the programs is two years or longer, the work permit may be valid for up to three years.
  • Remember, you can only ever receive one PGWP. So, if you graduate from a postgraduate certificate program that’s one year long, apply for and receive a one-year PGWP, work for that year, then enrol in a one-year master’s degree program, you are not eligible to apply for a PGWP after finishing your master’s.

What if I Studied in a Quebec Vocational Program?

Please refer to this IRCC chart for more details.

Wondering what working might look like during your studies? Check out our blog on working hours in Canada for international students.

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Program Types and PGWP Eligibility

Online Learning

Any time spent studying online for a program at a DLI that’s PGWP-eligible between March 2020 and August 31, 2022 can count towards a PGWP. This is true even if you were studying outside of Canada.

Distance and online study rules changed on September 1, 2022. 

For students who either started their study program OR whose study permit receipt was dated between September 1, 2022, and August 31, 2024 (whichever happens first):

  • 50% or more of their program must be completed in Canada, either in person or online
  • Time spent studying online from outside of Canada before August 31, 2024, counts towards PGWP length, as long as it makes up less than 50% of the study program duration.

For students who start their study program OR whose study permit receipt is dated after September 1, 2024 (whichever happens first):

  • Time spent studying outside of Canada after December 31, 2023 does not count towards your PGWP. 
  • Only time spent studying after applying for a study permit counts towards a PGWP.

DLI Strikes

If a strike impacts a student’s studies, they’ll still be considered a full-time student throughout the strike period. Although missing classes due to a strike won’t affect a student’s PGWP eligibility, it’s important for them to meet all other PGWP requirements.

Overseas Component 

A student is eligible for a PGWP if they complete a program of study in Canada with an overseas component, as long as they earn an eligible Canadian educational credential from an eligible DLI. However, the length of the PGWP is based on the duration of their studies in Canada. Officers may contact the DLI to confirm that the studies have taken place in Canada.

A man and a woman sit at a desk and hold a piece of paper together.

Can I Bring my Spouse or Common-Law Partner? 

Spouses and common-law partners may accompany international students, and may be eligible for their own study permit or a visitor visa. However, in most cases, they won’t be able to work full-time in Canada. Partners and spouses of students in graduate (master’s and doctorate) and professional degree-granting programs are eligible for an open work permit. 

Unfortunately, as of 2024, spouses and common-law partners of students in other levels of studies are no longer eligible for an open work permit

Canadian flag (a red maple leaf on a white field, framed by a red bar on either side)

As an international student, your future is open to many opportunities, and a PGWP can be a great way to get Canadian work experience. We hope that this information has cleared up some of your questions about the program, but if you’d like to learn more, check our blog archive for related posts.

Have more questions about the PGWP, or something else related to studying abroad? Contact us—ApplyBoard’s experienced team is here to help!


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