VIU International students

Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

Please note, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been renamed by the federal government. Now known as Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). At present, IRCC’s website remains

Post graduate work permit (PGWP) is a great program for those International students who would like to acquire valuable Canadian work experience after graduation. Also, this program is one of the bridging mechanisms for foreign students to transition from temporary resident status to permanent residency. International graduates can work full time while they wait for the Immigration Officer’s decision (implied status) regarding their PGWP application as long as the student applied within 90 days of program completion while their study permit is still valid. A Study Permit will be invalid at 90 days after program completion, even if the expiry date on the study permit is for longer. Therefore, VIU students are advised to apply within 90 days of program completion in order to take advantage of being able to work full time while waiting for their PGWP approval. This work experience, if in an eligible work category, counts for Canadian work experience that can be applied to gaining more points towards permanent residency. 

Post Graduate Work Permit Presentation 2019

Length of the PGWPs

The length of PGWP depends on the student’s study program length, the actual amount of time the student spent studying and duration of studies while the student was physically in Canada.  PGWP can be granted for a maximum of three years. For example, if an International student graduated from VIU with a four year BA degree program, she/he would only be eligible for a maximum three year PGWP. If the student graduated from a one year PDDB program at VIU, they would be eligible only for a one year PGWP. It is important to note that even if the student completes a one year program in two years, they are still only eligible for a one year PGWP.  If a student completes two one year programs in 1.5 years, an officer may issue a work permit for only 1.5 years. If a student accelerates the graduation of a two-year program and completes it in 1.5 years they may be eligible for up to a 3-year work permit.  Students who were not enrolled continuously full time in their programs may not qualify for PGWP unless they have received formal permission - “leave of absence” from their program.

In general, graduating from a study program that is equal to two years or more, qualifies a graduate for up to three years of work permit. If the program of studies less than two years but more than eight months, student will be granted work permit for the duration of the program of studies. For example, graduates of VIU’s Bachelor of Hospitality Management four year program or Hospitality Management two year Diploma program both will be eligible for a three-year PGWP.

Each International graduate’s case for PGWP will be different.  Students may graduate from the same program of study at VIU, but each applicant’s circumstances is different.  Immigration officers can also interpret the duration of studies in different ways so there’s no guarantee for the length of the PGWP. 

NOTE: Time spent outside Canada (co-op, thesis writing, online courses, etc.) will likely be subtracted from PGWP length. Temporary policy changes has been made to PGWP's during the pandemic. Please refer to IRCC website for more details.

Who’s eligible for PGWP?

To be eligible for a PGWP a student must have:

  • graduated from a full-time academic, vocational or professional program at VIU which is longer than 8 months
  • received written confirmation that the student has successfully completed the program: request a graduation letter to, and official transcript (Bldg.200 or order online from student account)

  • a valid study permit and have complied with its conditions (or have changed status to the visitor or restored student status if study permit expired)  or left Canada after study permit expiry
  • continuously studied full time (minimum 9 credits per semester) except for the final semester where part-time studies are allowed

  • a student must cease any type of work upon completion of the program of study. If applied for PGWP within 90 days on a valid study permit can start working full time from the date of application.
  • a student may apply up to 180 days after program completion, but applying later than 90 days may lead to disadvantages. Please consult with Immigration Advisor.

NOTE: Study Permits will be invalid 90 days after completing the program of study even if the date indicates it is valid for a longer period. Program completion day at VIU is the date when students receive formal notification of completion of the program or student’s final marks are issued. Please remember, the clock starts ticking for 90 days from the date of program completion. 

BOTTOM LINE:  Applying within 90 days of program completion has many advantages like working while waiting officers decision on application not needing to change the status to Visitor or restore status. For some students applying between 91 - 180 days of program completion may work best, but for most students we recommend applying within 90 days.  

Who’s ineligible for PGWP?                              

International students must take into consideration the possible negative consequences of planning to enroll in online courses. A small percentage (1-2) of online courses for the duration of the entire studies is acceptable, but no more than that.

The following students are not eligible to apply for PGWP:

  • studied online inside or outside of Canada, the length of the program is 6 months or less. (Temporary policy changes has been made to PGWP's during the pandemic. Please refer to IRCC website for more details).

  • obtained Canadian government scholarship (Canadian Commonwealth, CIDA, DFAIT) 

  • obtained Fullbright or Killam Fellowships

  • Rotary exchange students

  • obtained scholarship Canada-Chile or Canada-China

  • studied part-time, took time off without universities permission
  • not studied continuously full time
  • non-compliance with study permit conditions or other.

How to apply for PGWP?

International students graduating from VIU can apply inside or outside Canada within 180 of program completion (note advantages above of applying within 90 days):

  • Online (application processing time is shorter and it is a one-step process)

Students from visa exempt countries and the US, Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, have an option to apply at a Canadian Port of Entry (POE).  There can be complicating factors to apply at a POE, so if considering this option please see a VIU Immigration Advisor.  Spouses of International graduates will not be authorized automatically for the postgraduate open work permit. It will be a two-step process for spouses. When the International graduate is employed in a high skills position, they can apply for their spouse’s open work permit with a copy of their job contract and with three pay slips. Processing fee for PGWP is $155 CAD, the open work permit fee is $100 CAD.

For more information about traveling and applying/waiting for PGWP please visit IRCC website

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Before and After you apply

Before you apply for the Post Graduate Work Permit, please attend VIU immigration information sessions or come to one-on-one drop in sessions (15 minutes) with your questions.

If, after you have applied, you do not receive any information within the posted processing time check your application at the IRCC web-site by choosing one of the following:

  1. Visiting, studying, working temporarily
  2. Work permit extension (new employer)

Can I work full time while waiting to receive my PGWP?

Yes, see this website for more details: "They can continue to work off campus provided that they hold a valid study permit and have applied for a work permit under the PGWPP."

If you have questions regarding your PGWP application or made an error, you may contact IRCC (formerly CIC) using the following options:

All international students must meet graduation requirements and criteria established by their respective academic programs and successfully complete the required number of work terms indicated in the program outline.

The content of this page is not a substitute for legal immigration advice. It is for information purposes only and can change without notice. Please refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for up-to-date information.

Assistance With Your Application

If, after you have started your application and reviewed the step-by-step instructions in the online tutorials, and still have questions, please book a virtual  appointment to see VIU International Immigration Advisor. 

NOTE: Prepare application form and supporting documents such as  passport, study permit, etc. 

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