Canada’s immigration policy gives eligible international students who graduate from a public post-secondary institution or from a recognized degree program at a private institution the opportunity to work and gain valuable work experience in Canada through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP).
A post-graduation work permit is an open work permit that allows eligible international graduates of participating institutions the ability to work for eligible employers anywhere in Canada for up to three years.
Not all learning institutions qualify
Students interested in attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with the intention of applying for the post-graduation work permits are advised by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to learn about the credentials granted from the institution and whether or not they will be eligible for the program upon graduation.
This advice is especially important for international students attending career colleges outside of Quebec, but the rules haven’t always been clear.
In an update published in May, 2017, the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) called on its members outside of Quebec to “be very clear with prospective international students: they do not qualify for the Post Graduate Work Permit Program.”
“We are aware that some international students registered in career colleges have been able to obtain a post-graduate work permit. We are also aware that a number of them were recently rejected and that it now seems to be the norm that most will be rejected.”
The NACC warned its members that anything giving students hope of qualifying for a post-graduation work permit “will be interpreted as misleading by any regulator” and advised its members to direct students to IRCC’s website.
The association cited correspondence from IRCC sent in early 2017 that stated the federal ministry’s position on the matter: “While some career colleges are DLIs that can host international students, they are private institutions that confer diplomas and certificates, not degrees. As such international graduates of these institutions are not eligible for a post-graduation work permit.”
In an update published in May, the NACC says that it has been lobbying officials in the provinces of Ontario and Alberta to change their current position against granting international students at career colleges access to the PGWPP. This opposition, the NACC says, is as a key factor in IRCC’s current position on the matter.
The association is also lobbying for what it calls a “regionalization” of the program that would grant international students at career colleges in some provinces access to post-graduate work permits.
Benefits of the post-graduation work permit
An open work permit through the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program allows international graduates from participating post-secondary institutions the ability to work anywhere in Canada. Employers who intend to hire an international student who is eligible for the open work permit are exempt from having to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for the position offered.
A post-graduate work permit is often considered favourable by international graduates because a Canadian job offer is not a requirement at the time of application, and the permit is not restricted to any single employer or industry.
Pathway to permanent residence
One of the many advantages of skilled Canadian work experience for international graduates is the possibility to become eligible for Canadian permanent residence at a later time through one of the many Canadian immigration programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class.
An international graduate with an open work permit may gain up to three years of Canadian work experience, which in turn may increase his or her ranking in the federal Express Entry system through possible additional Comprehensive Ranking System points awarded as part of the changes made to the Express Entry system last year, wherein candidates in the pool are given points for a Canadian education.
Before these changes, international students/graduates who had completed a study program in Canada were not awarded any additional points in the system. The changes prove the government’s goal of providing simpler routes to permanent residence to international students and graduates in Canada.
One of the reasons the PGWPP was created was to attract international students to Canada, and few countries with similar education systems offer this open and valuable work opportunity to international graduates.
By extending the program to international students attending private career college outside Quebec, the National Association of Career Colleges says Canada will continue to attract international talent as a study and settlement destination.
To discover your options for studying in Canada, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
International students and post-graduate workers in Canada can join the CanadaVisa Study Hub for a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Members also get access to exclusive notifications, tools and resources to help maximize their time in Canada and pursue a pathway to permanent residence.
To find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada permanently, fill out a free online assessment form.
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