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The basics
Canada: Visa Guides - Must read

How to apply for a post-graduation work permit in Canada

Find out how you can work in Canada after you have graduated with our guide to applying for a post-graduation work permit.

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Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when choosing a destination to study in is the ability to live and work in that country after graduation. You will want to feel valued and accepted as part of the community you have studied in over the past years. In Canada, famous worldwide for its warm attitudes and vibrant cities, you will find an atmosphere which welcomes international graduates.


In this article, we explore post-study work permit options in Canada and the application process.


The Canadian post-graduation work permit


Most international students wanting to live and work in Canada beyond the length of their studies apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). This permit was designed to attract and keep the skills and talent of Canada’s graduates within the country’s workforce.


Who can apply?

You can apply for a Canadian post-graduation work permit if you have studied and completed a course at an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI), if:


  • the course was at least eight months long
  • the course resulted in a degreediploma, or certificate
  • you were a full-time student during each semester of your studies (excluding your final semester or approved study breaks).


Additionally, your DLI must be one of the following:


  • a public post-secondary institution
  • a private institution authorised to award your degree under provincial law
  • a private post-secondary institution in Quebec which operates under the same rules as a public one
  • a post-secondary institution in Quebec offering qualifying programmes of at least 900 hours (and you received either a Diploma of Vocational Studies or an Attestation of Vocational Specialisation).


You cannot apply for a post-graduation work permit if the course you studied was:


  • English or French as a second language
  • primarily studied through distance learning.


Read more about other circumstances which might affect your eligibility for a PGWP.


How long can I stay?

The amount of time you can stay in Canada on a post-graduation work permit will depend on the length of your study programme. If your study programme lasted between eight months and two years, you will most likely receive a PGWP that lasts for the same amount of time as your studies did.


If your study programme was two years or longer your PGWP will likely be valid for three years. If you studied more than one programme, you may be eligible to receive a PGWP which combines the length of each programme.


A post-graduation work permit will only be valid until your passport expires/ends. If your passport is due to expire/end soon, you may wish to renew it before you apply for your PGWP to be eligible for full validity.


Discover the top five graduate jobs in Canada.


What rules are there?

As a Canadian post-graduation work permit holder, you will be able to:


  • work in any job
  • be self-employed
  • look for work
  • work for as many hours as you like
  • apply for visas/work permits for your family members to live in Canada with you.


You cannot apply for a post-graduation work permit more than once. Be aware that every permit is unique. Visas are given on a case-by-case basis. Yours may include other conditions depending on your circumstances.


When to apply

You must apply for your post-graduation work permit within (a maximum of) 180 days of graduating from your study programme. Ideally, you should apply for your PGWP before your study permit expires/ends.


In some cases, your study permit might be due to expire before you can apply (or will expire before you get your results). In this case, before you apply for your PGWP you must either:


  • apply for a visitor record to extend your stay in Canada (you must do this before your study permit expires/ends); or
  • leave Canada and restore your status as a student (you must do this and apply for a PGWP within 90 days of your study permit expiring/ending).


What are the costs?

A Canadian post-graduation work permit costs CAN 255. If your study permit expired/ended before you could apply for a PGWP, you will also need to pay:


  • CAN 350 to restore your status as a student; or
  • CAN 100 for a visitor record.


You will also need to pay to obtain additional documents if they are requested, for example, biometrics or a police certificate.


Remember, you will need to be able to afford to support yourself while you are in Canada. Don’t forget to include things like rent, bills, medical insurance, and travel costs into your budget.


You may find our article about the cost of living in Canada helpful when budgeting.


What documents do you need?

When you apply for your Canadian post-graduation work permit, you will need:


  • your passport
  • your current immigration document
  • evidence that you attended and completed your study programme (this must also specify its name and length), either:
    • your degree or diploma certificate
    • your transcript
    • an official letter from your DLI.


Depending on your circumstances, you might also be asked to provide:


  • police certificates to prove your character
  • evidence you are in good health
  • biometrics (fingerprints and photographs).


Explore how to find a graduate career in Canada.


Completing your application

You can apply for your post-graduation work permit online or on paper. Make sure you have your credit or debit card ready to pay the fees associated with your application. If you need to change the conditions of an existing PGWP, you must apply on paper.


Applying for a Canadian post-graduation work permit can be done online.


After you apply

The processing times for a Canadian post-graduation work permit are:


  • 137 days for online applications
  • 164 days for paper applications.


You can only work while you await a decision if:


  • your study permit is valid;
  • you have completed your study programme; and
  • your study permit states you can work off-campus.


You can leave and re-enter Canada after applying for your post-graduation permit as long as you have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorisation (eTA).


If you applied for your PGWP from inside Canada, you will not be issued a new visitor visa or eTA. In this case, if your existing visitor visa/eTA expires and you want to leave the country, you will need to apply for a new one.


What other work permit options are there?


Do you want to know more about some of the other Canadian work permits available? Our table below details the two categories permits can fall under. You might decide one of these is better for you than a PGWP. Or you might choose to switch to one of these after your PGWP expires. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to fully understand your options.


Permit category

Eligible applicants

Open work permit

People meeting certain eligibility requirements, that want to be able to work for any employer in Canada.

Employer-specific work permit

People looking to work only with a specific employer in Canada


Read more about specific work permits within each of these categories to find out if there is one which might suit you. 


Don’t forget!

Always be aware of your permit’s dates and its conditions – these will tell you what you can and cannot do when you are in Canada.  If you think there has been a mistake on your PGWP, you should inform the Canadian Immigration Board immediately.



If you had to study online or part-time because of COVID-19, you will probably still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. At present, Canada is only accepting visitors over 18 who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 


Find out more about the rules related to COVID-19 and if they might affect your post-study work permit options. 


You can continue your research into studying in Canada by finding the perfect study path using our course matcher tool and exploring universities in Canada.