Student to Permanent Resident: Applying for Post-Graduate Work Permit

After graduation, under certain conditions, international students in Canada are allowed to apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). The permit holders are free to decide which employer they want to work for, the working hours, and they can work anywhere in Canada. With enough Canadian working experience, PGWP holders will be eligible to apply for the Permanent Residency Programs


1. What is Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

PGWP is the open work permit designed by the Government of Canada for students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designed learning institutions (DLIs). The work experience gained in National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0 or skill level A or B helps graduates qualify for the Permanent Residency Programs through Canadian experience class within Express Entry:

2. When you should apply for PGWP?

Important note: after you graduate, you only have up to 180 days to apply for PGWP. Before you apply, these are a few criteria you must confirm:

  • You attended and finished your program
  • The name of your program
  • The length of your program

To confirm the criteria above, you can submit these documents:

  • Your degree/diploma
  • Your transcript
  • Official letter from your school

Thus, your study permit status must not be expired at some point during these 180 days. If your study permit expires before getting the final marks, you will have two options:

  • Stay in Canada by applying for the visitor record
  • Leave Canada and apply for your PGWP

3. Who is eligible for PGWP?

– Your status in Canada must be the following:

  • Valid study permit within the last 180 days
  • Valid visitor record
  • You already submitted the study permit extension application before it expired and no decision has been made on your application
  • You already submitted the application to change your status to become a visitor before your study permit expired and no decision has been made on your application

You must have:

– Completed a study program:

  • From a designated learning institution (DLI):
  • The program lasts at least 8 months
  • The program that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate

– Maintained a full-time status as a student

– Graduated from:

  • A public post-secondary institution
  • A private post-secondary institution in Quebec that operates under the same rules as a public institution in Quebec
  • A private or public secondary or post-secondary institution in Quebec that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer. The program leads to a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or attestation of vocational specialization (AVS)
  • Canadian private institution that is authorized to award degrees under provincial laws (only the program that leads to a degree authorized by the province, not including all the programs offered by the private institution)

4. The PGWP application process (inside Canada)

  • First off, you need to get these documents ready to prove that you have already completed your study:

    • A degree/diploma
    • Official letter from your school
    • Official transcript or transcript from your school’s website

    5 Steps when applying PGWP inside Canada

    Step 1: Prepare what you need
    – Electronic copies of your documents
    – Valid credit or debit card to pay the fees


    Step 2: Go through the instruction guide carefully (Guide 5580- Applying for a Work Permit – Student Guide – online application)

    Step 3: Prepare the answers for the online tool: before uploading the forms, you must answer the questions that the Government of Canada created on their website. Based on your answers, you will get the personalized document checklist


    Step 4: Understand the fees you need to pay: at the end of the application, you will be asked to pay the application fees. Please make sure to pay for both the work permit holder and the work permit fees. The current fee in 2022 is $ 255 CAD


    Step 5: In order to apply online, you will need to create an online account. With your account, you can pay your fees, submit the application and check your status

5. The length of your PGWP

  • The length of the PGWP depends on the length of your program. The PGWP can be valid from 8 months to 3 years

    • If your program is less than 8 months: you are not eligible for PGWP
    • If your program is between 8 months but less than 2 years: PGWP is valid for up to the same length as your program
    • If your program is 2 years or more: you might be eligible for 3 years of the PGWP

6. After you apply for PGWP


In 2022, the average processing time for PGWP is around 143 days for online applications and 151 days for paper applications.

After submitting the work permit application and waiting for the final decision, you will qualify for working full-time if:

  • You still have a valid study permit at the time you submitted your application
  • You already finished your program
  • You were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while studying and you did not work more hours than you were allowed to

If you do not satisfy these requirements, you must wait until your work permit arrives to work in Canada. Moreover, if your application gets refused, you must stop working on the day you are notified.

7. The road from Student to Permanent Resident in Canada

Step 1: Get your Study Permit: apply for a program in a designated learning institution (DLI)

Step 2: Complete your program – you can work up to 20 hours while studying

Step 3: Apply for PGWP to work in Canada for up to 3 years

Step 4: Apply for Permanent Residency through Express Entry which includes 3 programs: 

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program: the program is for skilled workers who gain the foreign work experience and wish to immigrate to Canada permanently
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program: skilled workers need to be qualified in a skilled trade to apply for this program 
  • Canadian Experience Class: skilled workers who have Canadian work experience

Canada Visa News: 450,000  Study Permits issued in 2021 – Learn more here

8. Frequently asked questions

Q1: If my study permit expires before I apply for the PGWP, what should I do?

In this case, you will have 2 options:

  • Apply for the visitor record to stay in Canada for longer
  • Leave Canada and apply for PGWP
Q2: Can I do the PGWP paper application in case I cannot do it online?

Yes, but only if:

  • You have a disability that avoids you from applying online
  • There are problems with the online application
Q3: With the PGWP, do I have any regulations on the occupation, employer, and working hours?

No, PGWP is an open work permit. Therefore, you are free to decide which employer they want to work for, the working hours, and they can work anywhere in Canada.

Q4: Can I travel outside Canada while waiting for my PGWP?

Yes, you can leave the country and return only when your visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is still valid. Please keep in mind that your study/work permit is not a visa that can allow you to travel back to Canada

Q5: Can I work full-time while waiting for my PGWP final decision?

Yes, but only when you:

  • You still have a valid study permit at the time you submitted your application
  • You already finished your program
  • You were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while studying and you did not work more hours than you were allowed to

You will need to show your employer:

  • Proof that you completed your study program
  • Copy of your study permit
  • Copy of the acknowledgement of receipt from your PGWP application (when applying online)

About Canada Admission Hub

Admission Hub is one of the largest International Student Immigration Firm based in Toronto & Vancouver. Currently, it operates in the following markets: Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong,  China, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Europe, Vietnam, and India.

Our parent company CVH Immigration Ltd. Admission Hub is helping and supporting International Students around the world to Study, Work, and Immigrate to Canada. We are proud to partner with over +150 Canadian Institutions.

If you want help with your Study Visa application, the first step is to BOOK A CONSULTATION with Admission Hub’s Consultant, share your background and our consultant will reach out to provide you with as much assistance as possible.

We have a team of experts who speak over 13 languages

We understand the challenges and needs of international students, and we can communicate with you in your preferred language. We can guide you through every step of the process, from choosing the right college, applying for admission, obtaining a study permit, extending or changing your visa status, to settling in Canada.

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