Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, recently announced that Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders whose permits are expiring in 2022 and 2023 can apply for an Open Work Permit extension starting from April 6, 2023. The Open Work Permit extension will allow PGWP holders to continue working legally in Canada for a maximum duration of three years.
Candidates whose legal status in Canada has expired can also apply to restore their status along with an interim Open Work Permit authorization. This will enable such individuals to restore their status as early as April 6, even if their status has expired outside the 90-day grace period provided by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
IRCC will notify eligible candidates via email to log into their online IRCC Secure Account and apply for the Open Work Permit extension. PGWP holders who have already applied for permsianent residence in Canada and those whose permits have already expired before 2022 are not eligible for the Open Work Permit extension.
PGWPs are accessible to international students who have pursued graduation from an eligible educational program at a Canadian-designated learning institution (DLI). DLIs comprise universities, colleges, and other government-approved educational institutions. PGWP enables international graduates to work for any employer of their choice in Canada for a maximum duration of three years, which is determined by the length of the educational program completed by the international graduate.
PGWPs are highly coveted by international students as they are an essential component of Canada’s economic class immigration programs. Statistics Canada research shows that study and work experience in Canada can help support the labor market integration of international students who go on to become Canadian permanent residents. The combination of gaining a Canadian education, work experience, improving language skills, and developing social networks in Canada contribute to the economic integration of these immigration candidates.
Canada was home to over 800,000 international students at the end of 2022, a record high. PGWP holders comprise the highest number of temporary residents who transition to permanent residence. Last year, approximately 98,000 PGWP holders became permanent residents, which is about 82% of all temporary residents who attained permanent residency status. Canada is looking to welcome a record 465,000 new permanent residents in 2023 and aims to increase this to 500,000 in 2025.
The high demand for PGWP holders to become permanent residents has prompted IRCC to make two exceptions in recent years, enabling those with expiring PGWPs to apply for Open Work Permit extensions. This has given individuals more time to potentially obtain permanent residence. IRCC notes that there were more than 286,000 PGWP holders in Canada at the end of 2022. About 127,000 PGWPs will expire in 2023, but about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and will not need to extend their work permit through this initiative.
In conclusion, Canada’s decision to extend Open Work Permits for PGWP holders is a positive step that will enable international graduates to continue working legally in Canada and potentially transition to permanent residence. The move will also help Canada meet its goal of welcoming more immigrants and attracting global talent to the country.