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Navigating Post-Graduation Work Permit Expiry: Exploring Your Options in Express Entry

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On December 7, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued several announcements concerning Canada’s international student program.

One notable update confirms that no further extensions will be offered to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders. Previously, IRCC had extended this measure three times, initially in response to COVID-19-related labor market disruptions and post-pandemic recovery efforts. The extensions allowed PGWP holders to continue working in Canada during processing delays and Express Entry draw pauses.

The most recent extension, granted on April 6, applied to PGWP holders set to expire on or before December 31, 2023. This extension provides an open work permit valid for 18 months.

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IRCC emphasizes that PGWP holders whose permits expire on or before December 31 are still eligible for this extension.

PGWPs enable international students to remain in Canada and work after completing their academic programs. Typically valid for up to three years, depending on the program’s duration, the permit is not renewable beyond special extensions.

In 2022, a significant number of PGWP holders (98,000) transitioned to permanent residency, constituting nearly 82% of all temporary residents who became permanent residents that year. Looking ahead to 2023, IRCC estimates there will be 268,000 PGWP holders in Canada, with 127,000 permits set to expire.

Navigating the Expiry of Your PGWP: Options for Express Entry Candidates

When facing the expiration of their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), Express Entry candidates have several alternatives to remain in Canada as they await a final decision on their application from IRCC. It’s important to note that candidates may be required to temporarily halt their employment during the waiting period for an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and the subsequent application processing by IRCC.

Submit a New Work Permit Application

While anticipating an Express Entry draw, candidates can apply for a new work permit. Despite the time and additional cost involved, individuals desiring to continue working can consider obtaining a different type of Open Work Permit.

Alternatively, employers may pursue a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to hire a candidate through a closed work permit. It’s important to note that this process is time-consuming, incurs costs for both the employer and the permit holder, and restricts the permit holder from working for another employer.

If You’ve Submitted a PR Application

For individuals who have already submitted their application for permanent residence without receiving a final decision from IRCC, there’s an opportunity to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP).

BOWPs enable candidates for permanent residence to sustain their employment in Canada while awaiting IRCC’s ultimate decision. This option applies to applicants who have utilized economic immigration programs such as Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Quebec Skilled Workers, or the Agri-Food Pilot Program.

Staying in Canada Beyond PGWP Expiry

To extend your stay in Canada, apply for a visitor record at least 30 days before your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) expires. The visitor record issued by IRCC is generally valid for six months, though individual cases may have varying durations.

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