Many international students who complete post-secondary education in Canada wish to stay and obtain Canadian work experience.
Once they have completed their studies in an eligible program at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, international graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to work in Canada.
In its effort to retain international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently made changes to the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of international students. Under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international graduates can now obtain a three year open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry. They are not required to have a Canadian job offer at the time of application.
To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must:
- have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program (please see note below) and must have graduated from:
- a public post-secondary educational institution (university, college, or CEGEP); or
- a private post-secondary educational institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and receives at least 50 per cent of its financing for operations from government grants; or
- a Canadian private educational institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees;
- apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their academic institution that they have met the requirements of their program;
- have completed and passed the program of study and received written notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate; and
- have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.
Potential applicants should note that:
- the program of study must be a minimum of two years for the graduate to obtain the three year work permit. However, if the program was less than two years but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the program of study. In cases where a student has obtained a one year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution within two years of having successfully completed a previous accredited Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma, he or she may qualify for a three-year open work permit; and
- while a student must have been studying full time in the eight months preceding the date of application for an open work permit, an exception is made in the case where a student fulfills all the requirements except full time study in the last session of their program. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the program but all previous study has been full time, the student may still apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program.