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Complete Your PGWP From Outside of Canada (Overseas)

Posted on 04/08/2021

If you’re an international student studying at a Canadian post-secondary school who wants to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (or PGWP), there have been some recent policy changes that may affect your situation. Keep reading to see what they are.

First, ask yourself the following:

  • As of March 2020, were you enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI – a post-secondary institute authorized in Canada to teach programs that give degrees, certificates, or diplomas)? OR,
  • Will you begin or have you begun a PGWP-eligible program at a DLI sometime between spring of 2020 and fall of 2021?

If either of these applies to you then ask yourself:

  • Do you have a Study Permit? OR,
  • Have you applied for an been approved for a Study Permit? OR,
  • Have you applied for a Study Permit prior to the beginning of your program which (hopefully) will eventually be approved?

If you answer “Yes” to at least 1 question in each group of questions, then you’re eligible for the new changes in policy that we’ll describe for you next. What’s involved is a few temporary changes to policy as far as PGWPs are concerned. Let’s see what these changes are.


I Time Spent Studying Outside Canada Requirements for a PGWP

If you are eligible according to the criteria directly above, then you no longer have to complete 50% of your studies in Canada. In other words, 100% of your studies can be done online from outside Canada. As well, all the time you spend studying outside Canada will not be deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit.

  • However, after December 31, 2021, your time spent studying outside Canada will be deducted from the length of your PGWP.
  • Remember that the minimum length for a PGWP is 8 months, so you need to be in a program of study of at least 8 months.
  • Your study time (which determines the length of your PGWP) will begin to be measured from the time IRCC receives your work study permit application. This also means that the time from when your study permit application is received must be at least 8 months for you to be eligible for a PGWP.
    • For example, if are enrolled in a 9 month program of study, but you apply for a study permit a month or two after you begin your program and IRCC receives your study permit when you have 7 months remaining in your program, you won’t be eligible for a PGWP as IRCC will only count those final 7 months.
    • To avoid becoming ineligible for PGWP, make sure you apply for a study permit well before you begin your program of study.


II PGWP Application Deadline

If you apply for a PGWP from outside Canada you don’t have to apply within 180 days of holding a valid Study Permit – that is within 180 days of the expiry date of your Study Permit. However, you do have to have received study permit approval – even if you don’t currently hold a study permit. This means you can apply for a study permit just before you apply for your PGWP, as long as your study permit is approved in principle when you apply for your PGWP.

  • Please note that if you apply for a PGWP at your Port of Entry (airport you arrive in Canada at) then this has to be within 180 days of your Study Permit’s expiration date.
  • As well, please note that if your study permit is refused you can begin your program (from overseas) and apply again and if your study permit is then approved, your PGWP’s length will be measured from the date you originally applied for a study permit.
  • Furthermore, make sure you apply for your study permit before you begin your program of study as IRCC only counts the time from when they receive your study permit application in determining the length of your studies and thus, the length of your PGWP.

Remember, in all cases you do have to apply for a PGWP within 180 days of receiving written notification from your Designated Learning Institute of having completed your study program.

Finally, please note that you cannot remain in Canada with an expired passport, so your PGWP validity period will never extend beyond your passport’s expiry date.

  • You should get your passport renewed, and once your passport has been renewed, you can then apply for a PGWP extension. You can only get an extension for PGWP if the full length of your PGWP was not available due to an expiring passport.


III Program Stacking for a PGWP

This is when you are doing more than 1 program of study at a Canadian DLI. In that case, as long as your studies were in progress as of March 2020, or you began or will begin from Spring 2020 through Fall 2021, you can do the following:

  • Complete 100% of both programs from outside Canada.
  • Combine the length of both programs to produce your PGWP’s length.
    • For example, if one program is 12 months long and the other is 24 months long, then your PGWP will be for 36 months.
  • Remember, however, that to stack 2 programs of study:
    • They must each be a minimum of 8 months long.
    • The programs are given at an eligible Designated Learning Institution which has re-opened with a COVID readiness plan. While a COVID readiness plan may not affect you directly if you are studying online from outside Canada, it may affect the school’s opening in general so check the links below to ensure your DLI is approved by Canadian authorities.
    • See the next section for more information on this.


IV Designated Learning Institutions – make sure your school is on this list

Go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you’ll see the following drop-down menu. Choose Post-secondary school from the first drop-down menu.

Selecting post-secondary DLI on IRCC's website

Then choose the province and then the school:

Choose the province your DLI is in

If your institution is not in the list it is NOT a DLI. As you can see, we’ve chosen Seneca College and note that you will need the DLI number as well.

Choose your DLI from the list on IRCC's website

V PGWP After part-time studies as a result of COVID disruptions

If you had to reduce your studies to part-time due to COVID disruptions at your DLI during the 2020 calendar year only (winter, spring, and summer courses only) then your eligibility for a PGWP will NOT be affected.


VI Documents & COVID disruptions for PGWP

If COVID disruptions at your DLI mean you have so far been unable to obtain a Letter of Completion or a Transcript showing you have successfully finished your program of study, you can still apply for a PGWP and you will later receive a request from your processing officer for those documents.

This also applies to applicants who need to restore their legal status in Canada (for example if their study permit expired and they are in the process of renewing it). To be eligible for this you must:

  • Have had legal status on or after January 30, 2020
  • Had your legal status expire on or before May 31, 2021
  • Apply or have applied to restore your status by August 31, 2021


VII Working after submitting PGWP application

If you apply for a PGWP before your study permit expires, you can work while awaiting a decision as long as the following holds:

  • You had a valid study permit when you applied for a PGWP.
  • You have completed your program of study.
  • You were a full-time student at a DLI enrolled in a program of at least 8 months duration leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • If working while studying, you did not exceed 20 hours per week.

Posted in News Tips and tagged Post Graduation Work Permit, Study Permit

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