A Guide to Post-Study Work Visas in Canada
In recent years, Canada has become an increasingly attractive study destination for international students. Unlike the United States where higher education is very costly, Canadian colleges and universities are generally more affordable. For some students, Canada is also attractive because of its relatively calm political environment and reputation for hospitality.
Home to great schools such as University of Toronto, University of British Columbia and McGill, Canada provides world-class education and work opportunities in vibrant cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. If you are considering Canada for your studies, you are probably also wondering what the post-study work environment is like. In this guide, we will take you through all the steps for international students who hope to explore the job market in Canada after graduation.
Step 1 – Acquire a Student Permit
If you wish to pursue your studies in Canada, you will first of all need to acquire a student permit. Before you can be granted this permit, you will need to apply and gain admission into an approved learning institution, also known as a designated learning institution (DLI). To find out if the school of your interest is among the designated learning institutions, you can check this list provided by the Canadian government. Once you have your admission offer from an appropriate institution in Canada, you will then file an application for a student permit from your local Canadian consulate. You will need to prove that you have sufficient funding to pay for your tuition fees and other related expenses, and in addition, you will be required to have a clean criminal record and be in sound health. Applications can be made online – but you will also be expected to present your documentation and have an interview with an officer at the consulate. In this interview, you will need to demonstrate that you meet all the required criteria and that you have strong ties to your home country, or, in other words, you have the intention of coming back after completing your studies in Canada.
Step 2 – Undertake and Successfully Complete Your Studies in Canada
Once your student permit is approved by the Canadian consulate, you are now equipped to travel to Canada and begin your studies at your chosen university. Remember that to remain in good academic standing, you will need to work hard in your classes and ensure you do not fall behind. Failure to keep pace with your studies can have detrimental effects on your status as a student, jeopardizing your legal stay in Canada.
Step 3 – Understand the Terms of Post-graduate Work Permit (PGWP)
As you pursue your studies in Canada, you should simultaneously take the time to research and understand the conditions and eligibility for the Post-graduate Work Permit. For instance, if your program of study is less than 8 months in duration, you will not be eligible for the PGWP. A program of study between 8 months and 2 years will qualify you for a permit that runs for the same length of time. Finally, if you attend a university program that runs for more than two years, you will be granted a permit that is valid for three years.
As long as you have a valid student permit, you can apply for the PGWP within six months of your graduation date. If you wait for more than six months, you will not be allowed to file your PGWP application. You must also have completed your study program and maintained your status as a full-time student throughout all the semesters of your course. You will not be eligible to apply for PGWP if you came to Canada to take self-improvement courses, to study English or French as second languages, or if you have ever received PGWP in the past. You can learn more about the eligibility requirements through this resource.
Step 4 – File Your PGWP Application
To begin the process of filing for your PGWP application, you will need to have official proof that you completed your studies. This means having a document such as a diploma, a copy of final transcripts, or a letter from your school stating that you have indeed completed your program of study. Unless you have extenuating circumstances, the application for PGWP can be completed online. You are also required to supply documentation such as your passport, transcripts, passport photos. You will also need to pay an application fee of 255 Canadian dollars. You can learn more about the application process here.
Step 5 – Wait for the Results of your PGWP Application
On average, it takes about 132 days to have your PGWP application processed. If you had a valid student permit when you submitted your application, you are allowed to work full-time as you wait for the decision. You will be expected to show your employer proof that you have completed your studies, a valid student permit, and a receipt that shows you have submitted your PGWP application for processing. If your application for PGWP is rejected, you will be required to stop working. Once your PGWP application is approved, your spouse may also be eligible for an open work permit.
Step 6 – Options After the Expiry of Post-graduate Worker Permit (PGWP)
The PGWP cannot be extended once it expires. As such, if you wish to stay in Canada after the expiry of your PGWP, you will need to explore other options. Some of these options include the following:
- Express Entry – This consists of three separate programs: The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), The Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP). For all the three programs, you will need to check their websites and confirm your eligibility before submitting your application for permanent residence. The Canadian Class Experience (CEC) is often the most common route followed by foregn students who have studied and attained some work experience in Canada. You can learn more about it here.
- Provincial Nominee Program – This program is designed for people who want to live in a specific province in Canada. If you are interested in this route, you will first have to seek the nomination to immigrate from a province of your interest before sending in your application for permanent residence. Check out this resource to learn more about this option.
- Quebec Immigration – This is a special program run by the French-speaking Quebec province. In general, you will be expected to prove your proficiency in French before your nomination for a permanent residence application is successful. Work and study experience in this province can also prove advantageous. You can learn more about what it takes to follow this route in this resource.
- Spousal Sponsorship –If you happen to have a spouse who is Canadian, you may be eligible to apply for a permanent residence. Find out more here.
- Atlantic Immigration Program – This is a special program that makes it possible for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill roles in Canada’s Atlantic provinces that include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Learn more about this program through this resource.
Canada offers excellent opportunities for higher education and substantial options for those who wish to gain some work experience there. To be successful in your educational journey in Canada, you will need to stay updated about all the policies that may affect the visa and work status for international students.
At 8B Education, we not only provide the best financing options for African students with global ambitions but also guide you through the challenging but ultimately rewarding terrain of international study. If you enjoyed this guide, go ahead and check out our other guides on post-study work visas in the United Kingdom and the United States.