Canadian Immigration News

How Can You Extend Your Stay in Canada After Your PGWP Expires

4.3 minute read
"International students who graduate from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) from a study program that lasts longer than 8 months are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an open work permit that allows international graduates to be employed anywhere in Canada by any employer."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Nov 27, 2021
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International students who graduate from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) from a study program that lasts longer than 8 months are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). A PGWP is an open work permit that allows international graduates to be employed anywhere in Canada by any employer.

Now, as a majority of international students prefer to remain in Canada after graduation to explore employment opportunities, many are curious about how they can stay in Canada permanently. Since a PGWP is a non-extendable work permit, it only allows a limited period of stay. 

There are various pathways available for international graduates who want to extend their stay in Canada, permanently or temporarily. 

How Can International Graduates Stay In Canada Once Their PGWP Expires?

You can apply for permanent residence. That is the most common and certain way to extend your stay in Canada permanently. Applying for permanent residence once your PGWP expires also allows you to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). A BOWP is also an open work permit for permanent residence applicants to allow them to continue working while waiting for a decision on their permanent residence applications. The following immigration two pathways are available for international graduates:

Two PR Pathways for French-speaking and non-French-speaking international graduates

Express Entry: 

The Express Entry system manages applications to 3 federal economic immigration programs:

As an international graduate, you can meet the eligibility requirements for any of the above-mentioned programs to enter the Express Entry system. Since you probably have experience working in Canada, your best bet is to apply for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). CEC applicants require at least 1 year of Canadian work experience in an occupation classified as National Occupational Classification (NOC) code Skill Level 0, A, or B.

You can create your profile in the Express Entry system and submit personal information regarding your age, language proficiency, education level, and work experience. Your profile will receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on these factors. The highest-ranking candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. 

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): 

Out of the 13 Canadian provinces and territories, 11 have their PNPs to nominate candidates with skills and experience relevant to their local labor market needs. Currently, only Quebec and Nunavut do not have a PNP. There are 2 types of PNP streams: Base PNP streams operated by the provincial government and Enhanced PNP streams, aligned with the Express Entry system. 

PNPs allow you to apply for provincial nomination directly to the province. Once you receive a provincial nomination, you are eligible to apply for permanent residence to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Many PNPs offer immigration pathways for semi-skilled and unskilled workers to accommodate a wider range of candidates compared to the Express Entry system. Different PNPs will have their eligibility criteria, therefore, research accordingly to select the best suited PNP.

Quebec Immigration: 

As mentioned above, Quebec does not operate a PNP. However, it has its immigration system to nominate candidates who have a better chance of integration into Quebec society. This autonomy was granted to Quebec by the federal government to allow it to maintain its unique identity as a predominantly French-speaking province. Quebec issues a Certificate of Selection (CSQ) to eligible candidates to allow them to apply for permanent residence at the IRCC. See Quebec Immigration.

The final decision on permanent residence applications is made by the federal government. International graduates who are fluent in French and have studied and worked in Quebec can apply for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ). They need at least 2 years of full-time skilled work experience in the province and fluency in the French language. Another popular option for immigrating to Quebec is the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP). 

Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP): 

The AIPP was introduced in 2017 to encourage economic immigration to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, namely, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. The AIPP offers 3 programs for skilled and semi-skilled foreign workers and international graduates:

Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP)

The AHSP is for foreign skilled workers who wish to immigrate to the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Applicants require a valid job offer from a designated employer in the province to qualify for the program.

Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP): 

The AISP facilitates the economic immigration of semi-skilled workers and high school graduates to fill the labor market shortages in the province. 

Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP): 

The AIGP is for international graduates who want to immigrate to the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Applicants for the AIGP do not require work experience to qualify for the program. 

Family Sponsorship Programs: 

Canada allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their spouse or common-in law partners for permanent residence. It is not uncommon for international students to fall in love and get married to Canadian citizens or permanent residents while they stay in Canada. 

If that is the case for you, your spouse or common-law partner can sponsor you through the Spousal Sponsorship Program. If you are present in Canada at the time of application, they can opt for the Inland Spousal Sponsorship program. One added benefit is that inland spousal sponsors will be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) that will allow them to continue working while waiting for a decision on their application. 

How Can International Graduates Extend Their Stay Temporarily?

If you do not plan on residing in Canada permanently, then you can extend your stay temporarily through various options. 

To get a Canadian work permit, your employer needs to secure a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). An LMIA states that the foreign worker is being hired after the unavailability of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to perform the job. Another way to get a Canadian work permit is under the International Mobility Program (IMP). The IMP is for foreign workers who do not need an LMIA for their occupation. The IMP will process your work permit application within 2 weeks. 

There are also certain trade agreements that Canada has with foreign countries such as the United States and Mexico that allow US and Mexican citizens to travel to Canada for work provided they have a job offer in one of the eligible occupations. If you are from a country that has a bilateral agreement with Canada, you may be eligible for a work permit under the International Experience Canada (IEC).

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