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For international students who have completed their studies in Canada, obtaining a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an important step towards gaining valuable work experience and potentially obtaining permanent residency in Canada. However, the PGWP is only valid for a limited time, and many individuals may find themselves facing the prospect of having to leave Canada once their permit expires. Fortunately, starting April 6, 2023, some current and former PGWP holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit. In this blog post, we will provide more information on this new opportunity and how eligible individuals can apply for an Open Work Permit.

PGWP Apply for an Open Work Permit

What is an Open Work Permit?

Before delving into the specifics of the new Open Work Permit, let us first define what a work permit is. A work permit is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that allows individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents to work in Canada. In general, work permits are tied to a specific employer and occupation, meaning that individuals can only work for the employer and in the occupation specified on their work permit. However, there are some types of work permits that allow for more flexibility, such as the Open Work Permit.

An Open Work Permit is a type of work permit that allows individuals to work for any employer in Canada and in any occupation. This means that holders of an Open Work Permit can switch employers or jobs without needing to obtain a new work permit. Open Work Permits are typically issued in specific situations, such as for spouses or common-law partners of certain types of work permit holders, or for individuals who have applied for permanent residency in Canada. The new Open Work Permit for expiring PGWP holders represents a significant expansion of this program.

Who is Eligible for an Open Work Permit?

Starting April 6, 2023, some current and former PGWP holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  1. Your PGWP must be expiring or have expired within the last 12 months;
  2. Your current status in Canada must be valid;
  3. You must have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada that was at least 8 months long and led to a degree, diploma, or certificate;
  4. You must have maintained valid temporary resident status in Canada during your time as a student; and
  5. You must be physically present in Canada when you apply.

It is important to note that not all PGWP holders will be eligible for the new Open Work Permit. For example, individuals who have already applied for permanent residency in Canada and are awaiting a decision on their application are not eligible. Similarly, individuals who have previously held an Open Work Permit are not eligible.

 

How to opt in to a simplified process to get a post-graduation work permit

If you’re a current or former Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holder in Canada, you may be eligible for a special measure that makes it easier and faster to get an open work permit. This measure is only available to certain individuals and you will receive an email from IRCC if you are eligible to opt in. Here are the step-by-step instructions to opt in to the simplified process:

  1. Check your email

The first step is to check your email, including your junk folder, for messages from an email address that ends in @cic.gc.ca or @notifications.canada.ca. Make sure to review the conditions in the letter and confirm that they apply to you. The conditions include that you reside in Canada, the mailing address on the letter is correct, and your passport information is up to date and has an expiration date of June 2025 or later.

  1. Log in to your IRCC secure account

Once you confirm your eligibility, log in to your IRCC secure account. If you don’t already have an account, you will need to register for one and link to your most recent PGWP application before May 20, 2023. Once you’re logged in, select “Post-graduation work permit holder: Extend your open work permit (up to an additional 18 months)” and opt in to stay and work in Canada for up to an additional 18 months.

  1. Wait for your work permit

If you opt in before May 20, 2023, you should receive your new work permit at your mailing address by the end of June 2023. There are no fees for this work permit.

It’s important to note that this special measure is only available to eligible PGWP holders who receive an invitation to opt in via email. If you’re not eligible or didn’t receive an email invitation, you can still apply to extend your work permit or apply for a new work permit before your current one expires. Make sure to check the IRCC website for more information and instructions on how to apply.

Benefits of an Open Work Permit

Obtaining an Open Work Permit can be very beneficial for PGWP holders, as it allows them to work in any occupation and for any employer in Canada for up to 18 additional months. This can be particularly valuable for those who are unable to obtain a job in their field due to a lack of available opportunities or because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, having an Open Work Permit can make it easier for PGWP holders to obtain permanent residency in Canada. Express Entry, the main pathway for skilled workers to obtain permanent residency in Canada, awards additional points to those who have Canadian work experience. By obtaining an Open Work Permit, PGWP holders can continue to gain valuable Canadian work experience, which can increase their chances of obtaining permanent residency.

Conclusion

Starting April 6, 2023, some current and former Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit. This is a great opportunity for those who are currently in Canada and looking to continue working here. If you are eligible, you can apply online on IRCC’s website. Make sure to apply before the deadline of December 31, 2023.

If you have any questions about the Open Work Permit or the application process, it’s recommended that you schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer or consultant. They can help guide you through the process and ensure that you have the best chance of success.

Some current and former Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders may be eligible for an 18-month Open Work Permit. More information about eligibility can be found on IRCC’s website.

The benefit of obtaining an Open Work Permit is that eligible individuals will be able to work in any occupation and for any employer of their choice in Canada for up to 18 additional months.

The application window for the Open Work Permit will be open until December 31, 2023.

IRCC’s website notes that eligible candidates will be able to opt into a simplified process to extend their work permit, apply to extend their work permit, or apply to restore their status and get a new work permit. Even if a candidate is not eligible to opt in, they can still apply for a work permit.

If you’re eligible, IRCC will email you an invitation to opt in to the simplified process. You must opt in through your IRCC secure account before May 20, 2023. Be sure to opt in before your work permit expires. If you don’t have an IRCC secure account, you need to register for one and link to your most recent PGWP application to your account before May 20, 2023.