The Post Graduate Work Permit Program And Applying for Permanent Residence Under The Canadian Experience Class

The Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) Program allows international students who have completed certain Canadian post-secondary programs to obtain work permits after graduating. The work permits are open, meaning that the graduates can work for any employer in any Canadian province .However; there are many international students who mistakenly believe that they will be eligible to participate in the program after graduating only to discover midway through their studies that they cannot.

Who’s eligible for PGWP?

In order for an international graduate to obtain a PGWP after graduating in Canada (excluding Quebec), an international student must:

  • have a valid study permit when applying for their PGWP
  • have continuously studied full time in Canada, except for the final academic session, where part-time studies are permitted
  • have completed and passed a program of study that is at least eight months in duration at either a public post-secondary institution, a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions.
  • apply for the work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their educational institution that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study.


Permit validity

The duration of a PGWP is equal in length to the educational program completed, up to a maximum of three years. Any completed program that is longer than two years will result in a three-year work permit. It should be noted that a two-year diploma and a four-year degree will both result in a three-year work permit.

Applying and working

Graduates may submit their applications online or, in certain cases, at a Canadian port of entry or at overseas visa offices. Students who have completed their program of study and who apply for their PGWPs are permitted to work in Canada while Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processes their applications, provided that they were indeed full-time students enrolled in eligible programs while they were studying, and that they did not exceed their authorized off-campus work periods while they were students.

The spouses or common-law partners of PGWP holders are not automatically entitled to open work permits. They will only be eligible if the PGWP holder obtains skilled employment, and can demonstrate this to IRCC by presenting an offer of employment as well as a copy of three pay slips. The occupation the PGWP holder is employed in must be skilled employment classified under NOC o, A, B.


Students who complete a program of study granted by a non-Canadian institution located in Canada are ineligible to obtain work permits under the PGWP program.  However, students completing a program of study that has, as part of the program, an overseas component, such as an exchange, will be eligible as long as they earn a Canadian educational credential.

Students participating in distancing learning programs, either abroad or in Canada, are ineligible to obtain PGWPs. .

Graduates applying for PGWPs must ensure that they complete their PGWP applications properly. As with most work permit applications, if IRCC either refuses or bounces an application for incompleteness, then an applicant can typically apply for restoration of status within 90 days.

International Students may apply for Permanent residence to Canada through the Canadian Experience Class

Canadian Experience Class Immigration Program

International Students should consider the Canadian Experience Class. The Canadian Experience Class is designed to facilitate the transition from international student to permanent resident of Canada.  

After graduating from a qualifying academic program or course of study at a designated Canadian learning institution, many international graduates become eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit  PGWP is an “open” work permit, which means it can be used to work for any Canadian employer. If a graduate obtains at least one year of work in a skilled occupation, they may become eligible to apply for permanent resident status under the Canadian Experience Class.

The Canadian Experience Class is a Canadian immigration program created for Canada’s temporary foreign workers who wish to gain Permanent Resident status.

Temporary Foreign Workers are ideal immigration candidates and likely to establish themselves in Canada. The Canadian government recognizes that immersion in Canadian society as a temporary foreign worker significantly increases the likelihood of economic integration as a permanent resident. Members of the Canadian Experience Class have typically established important networks in Canada as temporary foreign workers and international students.

The Canadian Experience Class is governed on a pass/fail basis, meaning that candidates will be accepted as long as they meet the minimum requirements (and are not found inadmissible for reasons such as criminal or medical inadmissibility). Candidates who are successful in meeting the selection criteria for this Canadian immigration program will become a permanent resident of Canada.

Applicants to the Canadian Experience Class must meet the following minimum requirements.  Applicants must have:

  • A minimum of 12 months of “skilled”, professional or technical, work experience in Canada within 36 months of the date of application; and
  • Achieved a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) threshold of 5 (“initial intermediate”) or 7 (“adequate intermediate proficiency”) depending on the job being used to qualify; and
  • Applicants must not intend to live in the province of Quebec
  •  Applicants must provide proof of their employment experience, including pay stubs, tax documents and reference letters. Applicants must have gained their experience in Canada with the proper authorization from the federal government of Canada.

CEC Applicants may remain in Canada throughout the application process. Applicants can choose to apply for the Canadian Experience Class from inside or outside of Canada, as long as their Canadian work experience was gained within three years prior to application submission. If you are currently working in Canada and your existing temporary work permit is going to expire before your CEC application can be processed, the “bridging open work permit” may be a good option for you. A “bridging open work permit” will allow applicants to continue working while they await a final decision on their permanent resident application.


What is skilled work experience?

As previously mentioned, applicants must have work experience in a skilled occupation.  For the purposes of the Canadian Experience Class, Canada immigration regulation defines “skilled work experience” as experience in jobs that are either:

  1. managerial (NOC skill type 0);
  2. professional ( NOC skill type A); and
  3. technical job and skilled trades (NOC skill type B).

Full-time work is defined as at least 30 hours per week, however, applicants may apply if they have the equivalent amount in part-time work experience

A foreign national applying for a post graduate work permit or permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class should obtain competent counsel to assist them. Canada Global Immigration is experienced in both the Post Graduate Work permit program and the Canadian Experience Class Program.

Written by: Camilla Jones