Post-Graduation Work Permit

About the post-graduation work permit

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows you to remain in Canada and work full-time after you complete a certificate, diploma, or degree program that is at least 8 months in length.

You don’t need a job offer to apply and can work anywhere in Canada in any occupation. Certain jobs require a medical exam, such as those involving work with children or in healthcare settings. You are not allowed to work in jobs at risk of exploitation.

Reasons to apply for a PGWP

A PGWP is a practical way to advance your career goals and gain Canadian work experience after completing your studies at UBC. For students who are interested in applying for Canadian permanent residency (PR), it provides an opportunity to gain one year of skilled work experience in Canada, which might be helpful for certain PR programs.

You can only apply for the PGWP once in your lifetime. If you are unsure if you will stay or return to Canada after your studies, consider applying for the PGWP in case your plans change, since you will lose the opportunity to apply 180 days after your letter of completion first becomes available. You do not need to live in Canada or hold a job at all times to keep the work permit valid.

Eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a PGWP, generally, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have completed a program of study that lasted at least 8 months and led to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • You have studied full-time for immigration purposes each academic session without taking gaps in studies that are not considered actively pursuing studies. You may take scheduled program breaks, such as winter break for all students or summer break for most undergraduate students.
  • You’ve completed at least 50% of your program in class in Canada.

In normal circumstances, online courses completed outside Canada do not count towards the length of your PGWP.

Additional situations

You’re still eligible for the PGWP in any of the following situations:

  • You studied part-time in your final academic session only, which UBC defines as full-time study.
  • You took an authorized leave or had a gap in studies which is considered actively pursuing studies for less than 150 days.
  • You were eligible for the temporary PGWP policies in place until August 31, 2024, which allowed courses moved online due to COVID-19 to count towards the length of your PGWP. See the following FAQs for details on eligibility:

Find full eligibility details on the Government of Canada website.

If you are not eligible for the PGWP, learn about your options after completing your studies at UBC.

If you took time away from studies or studied part-time, draft a letter of explanation and gather supporting documents then consult International Student Advising before submitting your application. Officers will make the final decision.

Length of the PGWP

The length of the work permit ranges from 8 months to 3 years based on the length of your full-time program, not the amount of time spent completing program requirements.

The officer who reviews your application will make the final decision on whether you are eligible for the PGWP and the length of your PGWP.

Length of the program you completed

PGWP length you’re eligible for

Between 8 months and 2 years

You are eligible for a PGWP that matches the length of your program.

2 years or more

You are eligible for a 3-year PGWP.

8 months or more in a master's degree program

As of Feb 15, 2024, you are eligible for a 3-year PGWP. (Graduate certificates and diplomas are not master’s degrees and thus do not qualify for this).

It is also possible to combine the lengths of two PGWP eligible programs if you complete your second program within 2 years after completing your first program. For example, you could combine a 4-year undergraduate degree with a 1-year certificate that was completed within 2 years of finishing your first program and be eligible for a 3-year PGWP.

If your program is not a master's degree and has a flexible time frame, such as 12 to 24 months, or is an intensive program, draft a letter of explanation and contact International Student Advising for support.

If your passport will expire during the anticipated length of your PGWP

Since your PGWP cannot be issued past the expiry date of your passport, you should apply for a new passport well in advance so that you can receive it before you apply for the PGWP. 

If you are unable to get a new passport before you must apply for the PGWP, you might get a shorter PGWP than you are eligible for. In this circumstance, you can apply to get the remaining time of your PGWP due to your passport’s expiry date. When you first apply for the PGWP, include a letter of explanation about your passport and request that your PGWP has a condition or remark added about your passport expiry.

After you receive your new passport, apply for the remaining time of your PGWP with a paper application before your permit expires.

If you will start another program

PGWPs are issued only once in a lifetime. If you have plans to continue studying in Canada, you may wish to apply after you have completed your second program to make full use of your work permit. If each program is eligible for the PGWP, you can apply based on the length of both programs, so long as you complete the second program within 2 years after completing your first program.

If you extend your study permit before it becomes invalid, you may be eligible to maintain status between programs as well as work off-campus full-time between programs for up to 150 days. 

If you are waiting for a letter of acceptance for your next program, be sure to apply for a new status in Canada before your study permit expires. If you need assistance with your timeline and options, contact International Student Advising for support.

When to apply for a PGWP

You can only apply after your Letter of Completion is available, which confirms that you have completed all program requirements. The date your Letter of Completion first becomes available is different from the date of your degree conferral and graduation ceremony.

Your study permit validity and time frame to apply for the PGWP are based on when your Letter of Completion first becomes available, not your degree conferral or graduation ceremony.

Getting your Letter of Completion

Depending on your faculty or program, you may need to first apply for graduation, submit a request for your Letter of Completion, or it may be issued automatically.

Usually, your Letter of Completion will be available shortly after completing your last program requirement, such as receiving your final grade or submitting your thesis. For example, if you finish your last exam in April, you might expect your Letter of Completion at the beginning of May.

You can typically access it in the Student Services Centre in “Program Completion Letter” under Grades and Records. A letter stating you will complete your requirements is not sufficient. The letter must state you have completed all program requirements. Some programs or faculties send your Letter of Completion by email.

If you’re not sure when your Letter of Completion will first become available or how to obtain one, contact an Academic Advisor or your Graduate Program Staff since each faculty or program may have different processes.

You cannot work after the day your letter of completion becomes available until you have submitted your application for a PGWP and meet the requirements to work. See below for details. 

After you have completed your program requirements, be sure to check every day to see if your Letter of Completion stating you have completed all program requirements has become available. Save a copy when you first access it.

If you have not been checking for your letter of completion every day and your degree has been conferred, your letter of completion might have been available before the degree conferral date indicated on the letter. Check with an Academic Advisor from your faculty or your Graduate Program Staff to confirm when your letter of completion would have first become available.

Transcripts

You do not need to wait for a “final” transcript showing your degree is conferred. Your transcript should include your final grades for your PGWP application. A PDF transcript is acceptable.

Within 90 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available

You may only apply for the PGWP within a certain time period.

Study permits become automatically invalid in one of two ways, whichever comes first:

  • The expiry date on the study permit
  • 90 days after written confirmation of program completion first becomes available

To maintain status in Canada, you must submit your application before 11:59 pm Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), not local time, on the day your study permit becomes invalid and within 90 days after your letter of completion becomes available.

If your study permit expires before your Letter of Completion will become available, or within the 90 days after your letter first becomes available but you won’t have enough time to apply for your PGWP before it expires, apply to extend your study permit for an additional 90-day bridging period. Apply well in advance, ideally about 4 to 5 months before your study permit expires, depending on estimated processing times. Include a letter of explanation stating you are extending your study permit to apply for the PGWP.

Having a valid study permit at the time of application is one of the requirements to be eligible to work full-time after submitting your PGWP application online within 90 days of completion. If you will be on maintained status when you plan to apply for your PGWP, contact International Student Advising for support.

Within 180 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available

Your study permit automatically becomes invalid 90 days after your Letter of Completion first becomes available, even if the expiry date on your study permit is several months later. 

If you are in Canada and do not apply for the PGWP within 90 days of your Letter of Completion becoming available with a valid study permit, or you have not received a letter of acceptance for a new academic program to continue studies, you must take action by completing one of the following before the 90-day period is over or before your study permit expires (whichever comes first), otherwise you will be out of status: 

Your study permit must have been valid within the 180-day period before you apply for the PGWP. If your study permit expired before your Letter of Completion first became available, your timeline to apply for the PGWP will be earlier - you must apply within 180 days of your study permit expiring, rather than within 180 days of your Letter of Completion becoming available.

You must submit your application for the PGWP within 180 days after your Letter of Completion first becomes available before 11:59pm Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), not local time, on your 180th day (or within 180 days of your study permit expiring, if that's sooner), whether you apply from inside or outside of Canada.

If you apply for the PGWP more than 90 days after your letter of completion becomes available or after your study permit expires (whichever comes first), you will not be eligible to work until you’ve received the PGWP and might need to leave and re-enter Canada to get it. Contact International Student Advising for assistance.

If you haven’t submitted an immigration application, or you did not leave Canada before your study permit became invalid, contact International Student Advising for support on restoring your status.

Can I work while I am applying for the PGWP?

Working before you apply

If you are eligible to work in your final term, you can continue working up to 20 hours per week off campus (or more if eligible for the temporary off-campus work policies) and/or full time on campus until your Letter of Completion becomes available.

If you are enrolled in less than 9 credits in your final term and you are an undergraduate, diploma or certificate student who previously studied part-time or took time away from studies, contact International Student Advising about working in your final term. 

If you are finishing your studies with a co-op term, once your work term is over, you can only work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week off-campus (or more if eligible for the temporary off-campus work policies) until your Letter of Completion becomes available. 

You’re no longer eligible to work from the day after your Letter of Completion becomes available. You must stop working until you have submitted your PGWP application with a valid study permit and within 90 days of completion and you also meet certain conditions (see below).

If you are working after finishing your last program requirement, such as your last final exam, it is important that you check whether or not your letter becomes available every day to avoid working after it has been issued. You can work until and including the first day your Letter of Completion first becomes available. If you are accessing your letter in your Student Service Centre (SSC), save a copy of the PDF letter when it first becomes available.

You must stop working immediately the day after your Letter of Completion becomes available unless one of the following applies:

  • You apply immediately for your PGWP the day your Letter of Completion becomes available or the following day before resuming work, and meet the criteria to work after you’ve applied (see next section).
  • You are beginning a new program of study and meet all the eligibility requirements to work up to 150 days between programs.

If you’ve worked after your Letter of Completion became available but before you’ve applied for the PGWP, contact International Student Advising for assistance.

Working after you’ve applied for the PGWP

After submitting your PGWP application online, you may immediately begin working full-time while your application is being processed if all of the following are true at the time you submit your application:

  • You have a valid study permit and apply within the first 90 days after your Letter of Completion first became available.
  • You have completed your program of study.
  • You were eligible to work off campus without a work permit during your studies. Check that your study permit has a condition allowing off-campus work, such as “may accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria“.
  • You did not work off campus for more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions, except if you are eligible to work more hours during the temporary policies.

If you plan to apply while you are on maintained status for your study permit extension, contact International Student Advising for support. 

To avoid a gap in work eligibility between receiving your Letter of Completion and applying for the PGWP, prepare your PGWP application in advance and extend your study permit well in advance, if needed, so that you can apply as soon as your Letter of Completion becomes available. You can maintain eligibility to work if you apply the same day your Letter of Completion becomes available, or before you resume working.

If you plan to work in a job which requires a medical exam, you cannot start working in that position until you’ve received your work permit with correct conditions. However, if you meet the above criteria, you can work in other jobs which don’t require a medical exam while you are waiting for your work permit.

How to show your employer you are eligible to work

After you apply for the PGWP online, you should automatically receive two PDFs from IRCC in your online account. One letter confirms when IRCC received your application. The other is an interim proof of work letter, which has an expiry date based on IRCC’s service standard processing time. If your application takes longer, your eligibility to work is not based on this letter—if you met the requirements to work at the time of application, you can work until a decision is made. It is possible to send IRCC a webform request for an updated letter if it expires soon.

You can show your employer this IRCC page and IRCC’s instructions for officers.

If you have dependents

Be sure to extend your dependent’s documents before they expire. There are additional criteria you must meet before you can apply for or extend your spouse/common-law partner’s work permit while on a PGWP. Namely, you must have a job which is considered a high skilled position (TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3). There is a temporary policy in place from January 2023 for two years which expands the requirement to all skill levels and also allows working-aged children to obtain a work permit. Contact International Student Advising for support.

Learn about documentation for your family.

How to apply for the PGWP

There are different applications and processes to apply for the PGWP from inside or outside Canada. You must be physically in Canada to submit an in Canada application, even if you apply online. 

If you travel before or after applying for the PGWP, you’ll need to make sure you have a valid TRV or eTA to travel to Canada

You can do one of the following:

  • Apply for the PGWP online inside Canada within the required timeframe and stay while your application is being processed.
  • Apply for the PGWP online inside Canada within the required timeframe, then leave Canada before it’s been processed.
  • Travel, then return and apply for the PGWP online inside Canada within the required timeframe.
  • Travel, then apply at the airport or border crossing when you return to Canada—for eTA holders and US citizens only. If you are from an eTA expansion country you are not eligible to apply for a work permit upon entry to Canada. See full details of who can apply upon entry. You will need to bring all original documents and an outside-of-Canada application with you to apply upon arrival.
  • Leave Canada and apply through the outside Canada process online.

If you meet the requirements above, you can work full-time after submitting your PGWP application online.

If you have upcoming travel plans but don’t have a TRV, your employer requires you show a valid work permit to complete the hiring process, must work in jobs that require a medical exam immediately, or have other extenuating circumstances, contact International Student Advising for assistance.

Applying from inside Canada

So long as you apply before your study permit becomes invalid and within 90 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available, you'll be able to remain in Canada on maintained status until a decision is made on your PGWP. 

If your study permit expires after you apply, you can still stay and work in Canada if you met the above requirements to work at the time of your application. Make sure to request an MSP extension while you are waiting for your PGWP, since your MSP expires on the same date your study permit expires. 

You can continue to use the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) you’ve received as a student until the expiry date, even if you’ve finished studies. If your TRV will expire soon, you will need to wait until your PGWP is approved, then submit a separate application for a TRV, since TRVs are not issued automatically when you apply for a work permit inside Canada. In general, it is best to get your new TRV before leaving Canada but this will depend on your circumstances.

Be sure to review our step-by-step PGWP tutorial to prepare your application.

Go to PGWP tutorial

Before submitting your application

Complete the Canvas application review course to go over required documents, learn how to fill out the form, avoid common mistakes, and be ready to submit your application.

If you will travel after you apply for the PGWP inside Canada

You may use the Canadian mailing address of a trusted friend in your application. It must be a friend who does not live in UBC student housing since mail may be returned. Once your work permit is received, ask a friend to send you a digital copy and mail the original to you so you can have it for your return to Canada. If you apply while inside Canada, note that your work permit start date will typically be the same day it is approved and will be mailed to the Canadian address that you included on your application form.  

If you’ve met the above requirements to work after applying, you can work while waiting for your PGWP after returning, even if your study permit has expired. Review scenarios when you return to Canada

If your TRV expires before you plan to return, you can apply for a TRV online from outside of Canada with a digital copy of your work permit once your PGWP is approved. Review our step-by-step TRV tutorial, then review the TRV from outside of Canada guide since your application will be slightly different. Be sure to upload any additional documents required by your visa office in the ‘Client Information’ section—select your country under the "apply on paper" section then see the visa office instructions PDF. Note that processing times for a TRV outside of Canada may be very long and could delay your return to Canada.

Applying from outside of Canada

You can apply for a PGWP online from outside of Canada within 180 days after your letter of completion first became available, even if the following is true:

Review our step-by-step PGWP tutorial, the Canvas application review course, then review the IRCC work permit outside of Canada guide since your application will be slightly different. Be sure to include any additional documents required by your visa office in the “Client Information” section. Under "how are you applying," select “online”, then select your country to see the visa office requirements PDF, if available. If you have been in a designated country for more than 6 months, or intend to work in certain jobs, you will need a medical exam.

If you require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), it will be issued automatically after your PGWP application has been approved since it is an outside-of-Canada application.

After you receive your PGWP approval (Letter of Introduction), your letter will indicate the date by which you need to travel to Canada, which is typically the length of the PGWP for which you are eligible. Once you travel to Canada and present your Letter of Introduction for your work permit to the officer on arrival in Canada, your work permit should be issued for the full length of PGWP for which you are eligible.

After you apply

If you apply for a PGWP inside Canada, your PGWP is mailed to the address you included on your application form. If your contact information changes after submitting your application, be sure to update it via IRCC’s webform.

If your study permit expires after you apply and you are on maintained status, you must take action on your health insurance.

After receiving your PGWP

International Student Guide

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If you have questions

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

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