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Canada: Visa Guides - Must read

Guide to post-study work permits in Canada

Can you work in Canada after studying in the country as an international student? Read our comprehensive guide to the post-study work permits in Canada to find out.

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One of the key considerations when choosing a study abroad destination are the options that you have available once you have graduated. For many international students having access to employment opportunities and being able to reside in a country where you may have spent three to four years already is a top priority. This is where post-study work visas and permits come in and getting to grips with what’s involved is essential when making your plans. We take a look at the post-study work permits in Canada and everything that you need to know to make an informed decision if you decide to study in Canada.


What post-study work permit options do I have?


The most common route taken by international students in Canada, should you wish to work and reside in the country after graduation, is the post-graduation work permit (PGWP). First and foremost, you will need to have studied at a designated learning institution (DLI) as endorsed and accredited by the Canadian government.


It’s essential to check that the university you are applying to has this accreditation and also that your study programme qualifies you for a PGWP. Not all programmes are eligible.

Importantly you must also make sure that you do not let your student permit expire before applying, otherwise, you will need to leave the country to apply for a PGWP. In addition, you must also meet the following criteria:


  • You are a full-time student at a DLI
  • You are authorised to work off-campus with no work permit
  • You do not exceed the allowable work hours
  • You have studied a programme of longer than eight months


Some of the institutions you may want to check out that have DLI accreditation include:



Open work permit


If you are not able to qualify for a Canadian PGWP there are some other routes available to you via other work permits. One such permit is the open work permit. With an open work permit, you will be able to work in Canada for an employer if they meet the requirements, conditions and accreditation. To qualify for an open work permit, you would need to meet certain criteria, which may include, but are not limited to:


  • Graduated from a DLI
  • Special program worker
  • Have applied for permanent residency
  • Hold temporary residency
  • A student who can no longer afford their studies


You will need to answer every specific question about your personal circumstances and each application is assessed on its own merits.


Employer-specific work permit


This work permit will allow you to stay and work in Canada based on detailed and strict work conditions. You will only be able to undertake the work for which you have been approved and will need to have an employer who will vouch for you. The permit also requires you to provide the location of employment and the length of work you will be undertaking.


How long can I stay in Canada with a PGWP?


If you are applying for a PGWP the amount of time that you will be allowed to stay in Canada depends on the length of your study programme. If your course or programme is less than eight months you will not qualify for a PGWP. The length of stay you can qualify for includes:


  • Programmes longer than eight months and less than two years allow you to qualify for the same length of time as your course of study. For example, if you studied for a year and a half a PGWP can be granted for the same.
  • For a programme that is two years or more, you can qualify for a three-year PGWP.
  • If you have studied more than one course you may qualify for a PGWP that combines the length of all of the programmes. However, they must longer than eight months each and PGWP eligible.
  • Your passport needs to be valid and up to date. A PGWP will not be granted past the expiry date of your passport.


How do I apply for a post-study work permit in Canada?


To apply for a PGWP you will need to do so within four months or 180 days after finishing or graduating from your degree or study programme. Some of the key documents that you will need to apply with are:


  • A letter of confirmation that you have completed your course of study.
  • Your passport
  • Your study permit
  • An academic transcript
  • Certified copy of a degree, diploma or qualification


Additional documents may be requested once you have made your initial application, so be prepared.


Generally, the process of applying for a PGWP can be done online. You can submit all of your documents online and get regular updates on the status of your application. Before embarking on your application, the Canadian government has a checklist of things you probably need to make your application:


  • A credit or debit card
  • A camera or scanner for documents
  • The PGWP instruction guide
  • Pre-answered questions for the online tool


The cost of the application is CAD 255 and if you need to reinstate your status as a student in the event of study permit expiration or other circumstances the fee is CAD 350. Don’t forget that if you are extending or want to make alterations to your PGWP, this must be done in hard copy.


How long does it take to get a post-study work permit in Canada?


Once you have submitted your application the average processing time is about 150 days or five months. This is of course subject to change if you have to submit additional documents or are waiting for certain details to be verified. In the interim period you are allowed to work as long as you possess a valid study permit at your time of application, have finished your study programme and are also allowed to work off-campus for a certain number of hours and have not exceeded these. If you do not meet these criteria you are not entitled to work in Canada until your PGWP is granted.



Canada is known for its multicultural society and high quality of life, making it a good study destination option. Now that you’re more aware of how to chart your post-study journey you can check out what makes Canada so unique, how to apply for a student visa, some of the most popular degrees for international students in Canada and five fields you can study in Canada.


Post-study work permit Canada