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International Students Who Complete Entire Studies Online Can Apply for PGWP

Posted on 13/02/2021

As we mentioned in our blog last week, a new open work permit for international students has now been fully put in place. As of January 27, you were eligible to apply for this permit, as long as you met the requirements which essentially were:

  • Had a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, OR
  • Had a PGWP that would or will expire 4 months from your application date, AND
  • Were still residing in Canada with valid temporary status or had a visitor record having applied to restore your temporary permit in order to remain in Canada
  • Complied with all remaining PGWP eligibility requirements

That last requirement, however, implied that you had to have completed less than 50% of your courses online as this was and is a basic PGWP requirement.

What Minister Mendocino announced today is that this requirement (doing at least half of your courses being physically present in Canada) will be temporarily waived given the COVID restrictions present in Canada and around the world.

  • In other words, even if you’ve done ALL of your courses online, you are still eligible to apply for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

So, here’s the latest configuration of eligibility requirements for the open work permit:

  • You must be enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program.
    • Go here and follow these steps:
    • Choose the province or territory your school is in.
    • Using keywords like the school’s name and/or the city it’s located in to find your school
    • Go here to see if your school is approved to accept international students (it must have an approved COVID-preparedness plan)
  • You began or will begin, any of the following programs:
    • A program in any semester from spring of 2020 through fall of 2021
    • A program that was already in progress in March of 2020
  • One of the following applies:
    • You have a study permit, OR
    • You have approval for a study permit, OR
    • You have applied for a study permit before the start of your program – as long as you are eventually approved for that study permit
  • You meet all the other PGWP criteria:
    • You had to have applied for your PGWP within 180 days of receiving your final marks and your study permit had to have been valid at some point during those 180 days (in other words, it can expire before the end of the 180 days as long as it was valid at some point in that period).
    • If your study permit did indeed expire during those 180 days you had either leave Canada or apply for a visitor record.
    • This means one of the following applied when you applied for your PGWP
      • Your study permit is still valid, OR
      • You have a valid visitor record, OR
      • No decision has been made on your application to extend your study permit and you applied before your study permit expired.
      • No decision has been made on your application to change your status to visitor and your application was made before your study permit expired.
  • You completed a study program at an eligible DLI that was at least 8 months long and led to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • You maintained full-time student status during each semester, except your last semester when you can apply for leave from studies.
  • You graduated from an authorized post-secondary public or private school in Canada
  • None of the following exceptions (which would make you ineligible) apply to you:
    • You already received a PGWP
    • Your program of study was English or French
    • You took general interest or self-improvement programs
    • You participated in a Government of Canada Awards program from Global Affairs (except for a Study in Canada Scholarship which does not make you ineligible)
    • You got the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Canada-Chile
    • You participated in the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchanges Program
    • You participated in the OAS Fellowships Program
    • You completed a study program at a Non-Canadian institution in Canada
    • You completed the majority of your program by distance learning (online, e-learning, or correspondence)*

*It is this last disqualifying factor that has been temporarily suspended by the Canadian Government for international students who wish to apply for the new open work permit. This is both due to COVID restrictions that have meant international students have – in the most part – been unable to travel to Canada and have been forced to take their courses at Canadian DLI’s online.

Express Entry and the new open work permit

Clearly, the open work permit is intended to encourage recent graduates who are international students to remain in Canada and live and work and settle permanently. This means that they will end up using Express Entry to gain PR status and eventually perhaps apply for citizenship.

However, there is a catch. In the ministerial instructions regarding the additional points (15 additional points for a 1 to 2-year credential and 30 additional points for a 3-year or more credential) you can earn for having studied in Canada at a DLI, they state the following:


(3) Points are only assigned under subsection (1) if, for the purpose of obtaining the credential, the foreign national

  • (a) studied in Canada at a Canadian educational institution;
  • (b) was enrolled in full-time study or training for at least eight months; and
  • (c) was physically present in Canada for at least eight months.

Again, here we have a physical presence requirement that may mean when it comes time to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa through Express Entry, you may not be awarded those additional points because you were forced to study online during the COVID pandemic.

Perhaps Minister Mendocino will have this pointed out to him, and he will request a temporary waiver of this requirement as he did with the online study requirement mentioned above.

We’ll let you know if this indeed becomes the case, so please check back on this.

Posted in News Tips and tagged International students, Post Graduation Work Permit

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