open work permit in canada

Beyond the Post-Graduation Work Permit—Overview of Open Work Permits for International Graduates

Why is Canada so popular among international students today?

Why are young students from India, China, Vietnam, and other countries preferring Canada over past favorites like the USA, the UK, and Australia?

One significant difference between Canada and other countries is that international graduates in Canada can easily qualify for the post-study work permit.

Other countries too have work permits focusing on international graduates. However, what makes Canada different is that it has multiple options including a work permit specifically open to international graduates in Canada.

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What is Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is a work permit available solely to foreign students graduating from Canada. This is an open work permit, which means it is not an employer-specific work permit. This means you can switch jobs and move from one employer to another without any additional formalities related to the work permit.

This helps students avoid a situation where they have to continue working for their employer despite not being happy with their jobs. Your work permit is connected to your continuing to work in Canada. You can work from different employers through the validity of the work permit.

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Secondly, the PGWP has a validity of up to three years. If you graduate from a course of duration of more than two years from a Designated Learning Institute, then you can qualify for a three-year work permit.

The eligibility requirements for the PGWP are very easy to meet, which means every foreign graduate can focus on finding a post-study work opportunity without having to worry about whether he or she will get a work permit or not.

Thirdly, the PGWP is an LMIA-exempt work permit. This means your employer does not have to get the expensive and complicated Labor Market Impact Assessment approval.

Mobilité Francophone

An international student graduating in Canada rarely has to look beyond the PGWP. However, this does not mean you don’t have other options in hand.

If your course does not qualify for the PGWP but you still want a LMIA-exempt work permit after graduation, then you can try to qualify for the Mobilité Francophone work permit.

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This work permit is open to those who are proficient in French as well English. This is the primary requirement and strong language proficiency in both languages is key to qualify.

Immigration Pilots

Work permits for skilled workers who qualify for immigration pilots like the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot as well as the Atlantic Immigration (introduced as pilot but now permanent) are LMIA-exempt work permits.

Atlantic Immigration has a stream for international students. This means choosing to study in an Atlantic province gives you multiple options of LMIA-exempt work permits. You can opt for the PGWP or choose the International Student stream or the Mobilite Francophone work permit.

All these options are open to you if you graduate from the Atlantic provinces. A LMIA-exempt work permit based on the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot can be tougher. You will have to identify the participating communities and choose one that offers quality education combined with good post-graduation prospects.

Two-Step PR Programs

Many streams of Provincial Nomination Programs have a two-step setup where you first have to work in the province on a work permit and then qualify for permanent residence after a fixed period of time.

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Normally, these work permits would require positive LMIA. However, the provincial nomination can help you avoid this process. You will get a Letter of Support or other document from the province. This will serve as the positive LMIA and this will help you get the work permit without any additional formalities.

The two-step PR process can cover in-demand occupations as well as business immigration programs for foreign entrepreneurs as well as international graduates.

Plan Your Strategy Early

As you can see, there is more to open work permits in Canada than just the PGWP. The PGWP may be the easiest option, but it is always nice to keep multiple options in hand.

If your choice of study program is likely to lead to a job in the Atlantic provinces, then won’t it make more sense to choose the Atlantic Immigration program and start your PR process right after graduation?

The smartest way to build a good strategy for your work permit is to consult an immigration professional as early as possible. This can help you get better understanding of your options and give you more control over your future in Canada.

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