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CEC Candidates

Tips for CEC Candidates With An Expiring PGWP on Maintaining Their Status in Canada

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates in the Express Entry pool are anxiously waiting for their invitations to apply for permanent residency. The last-all program draws took place almost two months ago, leaving Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) holders in the CEC program concerned as their permits approach expiration.

Express Entry draws have been program-specific, targeting candidates in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). This differs from the period between July and November 2022 when draws were all-program, meaning every candidate in the Express Entry system with at least the minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score was eligible for an invitation to apply (ITA).

IRCC faced a similar situation during the COVID-19 pandemic when the CEC and FSWP draws were paused. In response, a one-time extension was granted to those whose PGWPs expired between September 2021 and December 2022. However, no such measure has been announced for those whose permits expire in 2023.

After completing an eligible program of study at a Designated Learning Institution, graduating students can obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to stay in Canada. The validity of the permit ranges up to three years based on the program’s duration and cannot be extended or renewed.

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Maintaining PGWP Status While Awaiting CEC Draw

If PGWP holders apply for another work or study permit before their PGWP expires, they can continue working and living in Canada as temporary residents while waiting for the next CEC draw. Failure to maintain temporary resident status will result in stopping work on the day the PGWP expires and leaving Canada.

LMIA-Required Work Permits

There are multiple temporary permits available depending on budget and circumstances. Employed individuals may change from a PGWP (an open work permit) to a permit that requires a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The employer must submit an application to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to determine whether “hiring” the individual will have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on Canada’s labor force. If the outcome is positive or neutral, the individual will likely continue working for their current employer but will not be able to work anywhere else until the permit expires or they gain permanent residency.

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LMIA-Exempt Work Permits

LMIA-exempt permits under the International Mobility Program typically fall under significant benefit and reciprocal employment categories. Significant benefit applicants must be deemed to be doing work that has a social, cultural, or economic benefit to Canada. Reciprocal employment occurs when Canada has an existing agreement with another country, such as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which allows some workers from these countries to work across borders or work in Canada on an intra-company transfer (ICT) agreement.

Study Permit

Full-time students enrolled in a post-secondary Designated Learning Institution can work 20 hours a week off-campus during the academic year and full-time during scheduled academic breaks. However, the recently announced temporary removal of the cap on hours students are eligible to work only applies if IRCC received their study permit or extension application on or before October 7, 2022.

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Visitor Visa

If none of the aforementioned options are suitable, leaving Canada when the PGWP expires and returning under a visitor’s visa (TRV) is possible. Under a TRV, individuals can stay in Canada but are not legally allowed to work or study. They must also be able to prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay.

Visitor Record

Applying for a visitor record is another way to maintain status. A visitor record differs from a visitor visa in that individuals do not need to leave Canada to obtain it. To be eligible, individuals must apply at least 30 days before their PGWP or any other work or study permit expires. While on a visitor record, they will not be permitted to work or study, and they will be unable to leave Canada unless they plan to return with a visitor visa instead.

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