Upcoming Changes to Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program in 2024

In this guide, our experts at Immigration Nation delve into the anticipated changes to Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program set for 2024. The PGWP is a vital pathway for international students in Canada, allowing them to gain valuable work experience post-graduation. Recently, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has proposed significant modifications to this program to better align with the evolving needs of the Canadian labor market. These changes aim to balance the influx of international students with the demand for skilled labor across various sectors.
In this blog crafted by our immigration experts, we aim to provide an overview of the PGWP, detail the proposed changes, and guide you through the application process in light of these updates.

What is the PGWP?

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an open work permit granted to international students who have completed a qualifying program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. This permit allows graduates to work for any employer in Canada and is a critical step for those looking to gain Canadian work experience, which is often required for various permanent residence (PR) programs. The duration of a PGWP can range from eight months to three years, depending on the length of the study program completed.

For more information about the PGWP, check out our latest blog post on Navigating the PGWP in 2024 .

New Policy Changes to the PGWP in 2024

Introduction to Policy Changes

The goal of re-aligning labor market needs is to facilitate access to work permits for students entering occupations in shortage, while reducing access for graduates from other programs. This adjustment is crucial to ensuring that international students contribute effectively to Canada’s economy. The PGWP program was last updated in 2008 to enable the issuance of open work permits to international graduates based on the length of their study. IRCC notes that between 2018 and 2023, work permits issued under the PGWP increased by 214%. This significant rise reflects the growing reliance on the PGWP for integrating international graduates into the workforce. In January 2024, IRCC also announced an international student cap and included temporary resident levels in the annual Immigration Levels Plan for the first time in history. These measures aim to reduce stress on Canada’s social systems by managing the number of new temporary residents annually​.

The proposed changes to the PGWP for 2024 aim to address several key issues. Here’s a breakdown of the main updates:

  • Occupational Shortage Focus: The synchronization of Canada’s National Occupation Classification (NOC) system with the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) system will better align educational programs with labor market needs. This means that PGWP eligibility will be more closely tied to programs that prepare students for high-demand occupations. For example, the NOC code for “software engineer” might be mapped to programs like computer science, software engineering, and information technology.
  • Longer Work Permits for Shorter Graduate Programs: Graduates of master’s and other short graduate-level programs will be eligible for a three-year work permit, regardless of the program’s length. This change aims to provide these graduates with extended opportunities to gain Canadian work experience, which is beneficial for those seeking permanent residency​
  • Proof of Job Offers: International students may be required to demonstrate proof of a job offer aligned with an occupational shortage list to extend their PGWP beyond one year. This measure is intended to address the issue of temporary residents, mainly PGWP holders, in Canada​

  • Additional Eligibility Criteria: New criteria might include language proficiency tests and/or provincial approval for extending the PGWP past the first year. This aims to ensure that students who continue working on a PGWP are well-prepared for integration into the Canadian workforce​
  • Exemptions for Specific Cohorts: There are considerations for exemptions for certain groups, such as francophone students or graduates of certain advanced degree programs. This is to ensure that specific populations are not adversely affected by the new eligibility criteria​
  • Revised Occupational Shortage List: The frequency of revisions to the occupational shortage list is under consideration, with suggestions ranging from annual to every three years. These revisions will determine when new criteria will apply to students currently studying​.
  • Alignment with Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP): The changes aim to ensure that the new PGWP eligibility criteria align with the profiles of candidates suitable for long-term work in their respective provinces. This includes ensuring that PNP streams remain responsive to graduates and PGWP holders in specific occupations​
  • Restrictions on Institutions with Licensing Agreements: Institutions with curriculum licensing agreements will no longer be eligible to enroll new international students planning to get PGWPs. This does not impact existing students but aims to improve the quality of education and support provided to international students​.

How to Apply for the PGWP in 2024

While the core application process remains the same, the new policy changes necessitate some adjustments in the application steps. Here’s an updated guide:

  1. Complete Your Program at a DLI
    • Ensure your program and institution are recognized under the new eligibility criteria.
  2. Gather Required Documents
    • Collect proof of graduation, transcripts, and any new documentation related to job offers or language proficiency, as required.
  3. Submit Your Application Online
    • Apply for the PGWP through the IRCC portal, ensuring you meet all updated criteria and deadlines.
  4. Wait for Approval
    • Processing times may vary, and new automated tools introduced by IRCC aim to streamline this process.
  5. Begin Working
    • Once approved, you can start working for any employer in Canada, with the possibility of extending your permit if you meet the new criteria​

Conclusion
The proposed 2024 changes to Canada’s PGWP program reflect a strategic effort to align international education with labor market needs. By emphasizing occupational shortages, extending work permits for shorter graduate programs, and introducing new eligibility criteria, IRCC aims to ensure international graduates contribute effectively to the Canadian economy. For international students and graduates, adapting to these changes is crucial. Staying informed and prepared will help you successfully transition from student to skilled worker in Canada. At Immigration Nation, our team of experts is dedicated to guiding you through these changes, ensuring your application is ready for success. If you need further assistance with your application or have questions about the new PGWP changes, contact us at Immigration Nation, where our experts will help ensure, your application is successful!

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