If you’ve been working in Canada under a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) for the last year and it’s about to expire, you may be wondering what your next steps should be. In this article, we will discuss some options that may be available to you to stay in Canada.

The Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) allows international graduates to work in any province in Canada for up to three years after graduation, depending on the length of their studies.

If your program was at least eight months, but less than two years, you may be granted a PGWP that’s valid for up to the same length as your study program. For example, if you complete a ten-month program, you may be given a work permit for up to ten months.

If you complete a study program that was less than 8 months you are not eligible for a PGWP.

Unfortunately, this type of work visa cannot be extended.

It is highly recommended to apply for another temporary work permit or permanent residency before your PGWP expires in order to maintain your status as a worker while awaiting a decision from IRCC.

There are, however, several alternatives for PGWP holders to stay in Canada temporarily or even permanently:

Temporary options

Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)

Most Canadian employers are required to go through the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to hire a temporary foreign worker.

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document issued by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) that examines the impact of employing a foreign national in Canada for a specific position.

A positive LMIA indicates that there is no Canadian citizen or permanent resident available to do the work advertised, allowing an employer to hire a foreign national.

A negative LMIA indicates that this role should be filled by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Once a positive LMIA is received by the employer, the temporary worker will use this document in their application to apply for a work permit.

This is an employer-specific (closed) work permit.

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International Experience Canada (IEC)

The main objective of launching the IEC under the International Mobility Program (IMP) is to provide foreign nationals from participating countries who are between the ages of 18-35 (30 in some countries) with the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. There are 3 categories under the IEC program, these are:

  • Working Holiday
  • Young Professionals
  • International Co-op

If you are eligible for at least one of the programs mentioned above, you will be placed into one or more pools of IEC candidates and be notified of this movement by receiving a message in your online account.

If you’re a citizen of a partner country, you might be eligible for one or more of the three categories.

If you are not a citizen of a partner country, you may still be able to apply for IEC through a recognized organization.

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New study permit

Enrolling in a new post-secondary program could allow you to remain in Canada and work up to 20 hours per week.

It is important to note that PGWP's are a one-time opportunity for international students, meaning you cannot get another PGWP after graduating for a second time.

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Visitor Visa

Another temporary option to remain in Canada is to apply for a visitor visa. It is important to apply for this before your PGWP expires, otherwise, you may need to leave the country and re-enter. Most visitor visas are valid for six months without the opportunity to work.

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Permanent resident options

Express Entry

Express Entry refers to an online application system used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that handles and processes applications received from skilled workers across three programs; Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker Program, and Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Express Entry is the fastest way to move to Canada permanently. Express Entry has become one of the most popular immigration systems for people all around the world due to its simplicity of use and rapid processing.

Given the high volume of applications for Canadian permanent residence, Express Entry is a highly competitive system for ranking eligible candidates against one another to guarantee that the best federal economic applicants are chosen from the Express Entry pool. The ranking method considers; education, work experience, language abilities, age, and other factors. So, you will have to meet certain eligibility criteria and take a language proficiency test in one of the official languages; English or French, before being considered for this immigration system.

The main benefit of Express Entry is that it provides eligible and deserving individuals with permanent residency in as little as 6 months.

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Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

The Canadian provincial nominee programs (PNPs) provide a route to permanent residency for individuals interested in moving to a certain Canadian province or territory. Once a province has nominated a candidate, only the federal government can then process and issue permanent residency.

Each Canadian province and territory has its own PNP program that is tailored to the particular economic and demographic needs of the region.

The Express Entry system is used by several nomination systems. A candidate receives 600 points toward their Express Entry CRS score if they are nominated.

This means that a PGWP holder may benefit from Express Entry's accelerated processing time. Permanent residence status could be obtained as soon as 6 months under Express Entry.

For PGWP holders who haven't completed work experience in an occupational skill type eligible for Express Entry, there are still PNP choices available. Most provinces have low-skilled PNP programs, which typically allow individuals in NOC skill types C and D to apply.

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Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)

The Atlantic Immigration Program, formerly known as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, helps recent graduates from an Atlantic (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador) post-secondary institute become permanent residents.

Candidates must have completed a qualifying, full-time program of at least two years in length and must have lived in one of these provinces for at least 16 months in the last 2 years before graduating to be considered. Qualifying graduates must also hold a job offer in one of the Atlantic provinces, the job offer can be in a NOC skill type A, B, C, or 0.

The advantage of this program is that international students who have completed their studies do not have to fulfil minimum work experience requirements. It also allows PGWP holders to apply before they've started working. It may be advantageous to PGWP holders who haven't received sufficient job experience to apply through other programs before their permit expires.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

If you graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution as an international student in one of eleven select rural communities across Canada, you may be eligible to apply.

Candidates must have a master's degree or a post-secondary program of at least two years and have spent a minimum amount of time in the community under the pilot project.

Each rural community has its own set of requirements for applicants wanting to apply under their program.

Spousal Sponsorship

Canada offers sponsorship programs for permanent residents or Canadian citizens that wish to keep their loved ones in Canada with them. Certain family members may become permanent residents of Canada if they meet program requirements. The main eligibility requirement is to be legally married or in the case of common-law, to be in a 'marriage-like' relationship for a minimum of 12 consecutive months.

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Conclusion

In this article we have provided some options of what to do after your 1-year PGWP expires, so don't worry, there are options available to stay in Canada. You may be eligible for the Express Entry system, a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, or a new work permit, just to name a few. Each of these programs has its own specific eligibility criteria, so make sure you research which one is best for you.

If you are eligible to apply for permanent residency before your PGWP expires, you may also be eligible to apply for a bridging open work permit. This permit will allow you to work while waiting for the finalization of your permanent residency application.