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New Measures on Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) for International Students Taking Online Class

Updated: May 15

Canada announces 3 new measures around Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility to respond to the uncertainties for international students during COVID-19. Table of Contents


New Measures on Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) for International Students Taking Online Class

On August 26th 2020Canada announced 3 new measures around Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility to respond to the uncertainties for international students during COVID-19.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made these changes to provide more flexibility on eligibility rules for the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) for students who need to start their education online from outside Canada due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As per the press release by IRCC, the changes are as follows:

  1. Students may now study online from abroad until April 30, 2021, with no time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit, provided 50% of their program of study is eventually completed in Canada.

  2. Students who have enrolled in a program that is between 8 and 12 months in length, with a start date from May to September 2020, will be able to complete their entire program online from abroad and still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

  3. Students who have enrolled in a program with a start date from May to September 2020 and study online up to April 30, 2021, and who graduate from more than one eligible program of study, may be able to combine the length of their programs of study when they apply for a post-graduation work permit in the future, as long as 50% of their total studies are completed in Canada.


Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible for these measures, students must have submitted a study permit application before starting a program of study in the spring, summer, or fall 2020 semester, or the January 2021 semester. All students must eventually be approved for a study permit.

International Students Face Uncertainty During COVID-19

This announcement comes in the midst of uncertainty around admissions, study permit approvals, and online class delivery for the September 2020 and January 2021 intake due to COVID-19. The current travel restrictions mean that students cannot enter Canada at the moment and have to complete their studies online. This is particularly problematic because prior to the pandemic, distancing learning did not count towards PGWP eligibility. Given the current situation, however, IRCC has announced measures to be more flexible and enable online learning to count towards PGWP eligibility.

The Importance of the Post-Graduate Work Permit for International Students

The Post-Graduate Work Permit is an essential benefit of pursuing education in Canada. After a student completes their program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) they can obtain a PGWP for up to 3 years. The PGWP enables international students to work for a Canadian employer after completing their education, giving them the opportunity to get Canadian work experience with Canadian employers. This Canadian work experience is an important step for international students looking to get their permanent residency and settle in Canada. It makes them eligible for certain immigration pathways such as Express Entry’s Canadian Experience Class program. The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) also awards additional points with Canadian experience. In their news release, IRCC concluded that the easing of COVID-19-related restrictions will depend on the progress made in Canada and around the world in containing the spread of the coronavirus. IRCC will continue to closely monitor the situation and assess whether further changes are needed. Are you an international student looking to study in Canada? Given the measures taken by IRCC around PGWP eligibility, you can apply for study in Canada as soon as Jan 2021.

Are you looking to understand your options for immigration post-COVID-19?


We can help. Book a consultation with our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) to get a full profile assessment and to determine the best strategy for your immigration to Canada



A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.

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