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PGWP Eligibility (IRCC Announces Increased Flexibility)

Written by Alexander College in Featured, School News on March 23, 2021

Dear Students,

We would like to bring your attention to recent updates from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regarding the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) and exciting news for foreign nationals in the Canadian Experience Class.

International students make up a thriving community of Canada’s population and are central to the nation’s cultural identity, population growth, and long-term economic stability.

Over the past forty years, the ratio of working individuals to retirees has decreased significantly. It’s estimated that by 2035, there will only be two workers for every Canadian retiree.

Without steady immigration, younger Canadians will end up paying more per person to provide the same benefits.

In the past several months, the Government of Canada has introduced a significant initiatives to increase flexibility for students studying outside of Canada and promote opportunities for international students to study, live and work in Canada.

With a combination of world-class education, advanced language skills and opportunities for a diverse range of work experience, Canada remains a competitive destination for international students, who are often well prepared and well positioned to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

[1] According to the 2021‒2023 Immigration Levels Plan, the Government of Canada will continue to welcome immigrants at a rate of about 1% of the population of Canada, including 401,000 permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.[2]

Did you know: More than 58,000 graduates successfully applied to immigrate permanently in 2019.[3]

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Vancouver Scenery

Updates to PGWP Eligibility Requirements

As of February 12, 2021, the Government of Canada has announced further measures to support international students wishing to apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) and who are currently completing studies online from outside of Canada.

International students may now complete 100% of their program online from abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP. The measures apply to all international students who are enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program, meet PGWP requirements and

  • have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • have started or will start a program between spring 2020 and fall 2021, and
    • you have a study permit, or
    • you’ve been approved for a study permit, or
    • you applied for a study permit before starting your study program
      • your study permit must eventually be approved

According to the IRCC website, time studying online outside Canada between spring 2020 and December 31, 2021, will count towards the length of a PGWP. Time spent studying outside Canada after December 31, 2021, won’t count towards the length of a PGWP.[4]

Read the Full Announcement

“Our message to international students and graduates is simple: we don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”  

The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

In addition, the Government of Canada has offered a unique opportunity to former international students who hold or held a post-graduation work permit (PGWP). Foreign nationals in Canada affected with an expired or expiring PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for another 18-month open work permit.

This additional measure will help ensure former international students remain in Canada and have the opportunity to obtain the work experience they need to apply for permanent residence. To apply for an open work permit under the public policy, an applicant must:

    • have a PGWP that expired on or after January 30, 2020, or a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date they apply
    • still be in Canada
    • have a valid temporary status, or be applying to restore their status

Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021.[5] For details on how to apply, please visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.

Read the Full Announcement

students smiling
Student talking to Alexander College Staff

Two-Step Approval Process for Study Permits

A reminder that the IRCC has implemented a two-step approval process for study permit applications submitted your application on or before December 15, 2020. This allows increased flexibility for international students starting a new program online and were previously unable to complete their application to do to COVID-19 restrictions (for example, you’re missing your biometrics or medical).[6]

The temporary process will allow applicants to count the time spent studying online abroad towards their post-graduation work permit once they receive an approval-in-principle, as long as they are able to satisfy all requirements and receive the full approval of their study permit application at a later date.[7]

It is important for prospective students to note that commencing their studies online from abroad following approval-in-principle of a study permit application is not a guarantee that they will receive a full approval of their study permit application, or be authorized to pursue their studies in Canada.[8]

Read More about the Two-Step Approval Process

Read the Full Announcement

Student studying at alexander college
Alexander College students in Downtown Vancouver

Over 27,000 Skilled Workers Receive Invitation for Permanent Residence

Extraordinary measures have also been taken to support foreign nationals who wish to work and remain in Canada as Permanent Residents. On February 13, 2021, the IRCC announced a record-breaking round of invitations to candidates applying for Permanent Residency under the Express Entry system.

Over 27,300 candidates who qualified for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) category were invited to apply if they had a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of 75 or higher, the lowest score recorded in recent years.[9] This is the highest number of invitations issued in a single round under Express Entry system in the past five years.[10]

Approximately 90% of CEC candidates invited during this round were noted to already be residing in Canada, [11] further demonstrating the Government of Canada’s pledge to support skilled temporary workers who wish to call Canada home.

Read the Full IRCC Announcement

Please note, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.

Last updated on February 26, 2021.


[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-announces-further-measures-to-support-international-students.html

[2] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/10/government-of-canada-announces-plan-to-support-economic-recovery-through-immigration.html

[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/02/government-of-canada-announces-further-measures-to-support-international-students.html

[4] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/students.html#pgwp-eligibility

[5] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/01/government-of-canada-announces-new-policy-to-help-former-international-students-live-in-work-in-and-continue-contributing-to-canada.html

[6] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/students.html#apply-online

[7] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/07/minister-mendicino-announces-changes-to-facilitate-online-learning-for-international-students.html

[8] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2020/07/minister-mendicino-announces-changes-to-facilitate-online-learning-for-international-students.html

[9] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/skilled-workers-in-canada.html

[10] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/ministerial-instructions/express-entry-rounds.html#wb-auto-4

[11] https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/notices/skilled-workers-in-canada.html


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