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 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 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 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 of the length of the PGWP. 

NOTE: Time spent outside Canada (co-op, thesis writing, on-line courses etc.) will likely be subtracted from PGWP length.

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

  • received a graduation letter (Bldg.255)

  • a valid study permit and have complied with its conditions (or have changed status to 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

  • applied within 90 days of completing the program of studies  (Students can apply within 91-180 days of program completion, but will not be able to work while waiting to receive the physical PGWP, also if still in Canada they will need to change their status to visitor before 90 days or restore their status after 90 days and apply for PGWP)

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.


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

  • 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)
  • Paper (application processing time is longer and application fee must be paid online)

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 post graduate 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, open work permit fee is $100 CAD.

For more information about traveling and applying/waiting for PGWP please see:

Log into GCKey

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 tutorials available at the Reception Desk in Building 255, and still have questions, please drop-in to see VIU International Immigration Advisor: See advising schedule here:

NOTE: Bring your application documents with you, your passport, study permit and student card. Follow this links to contact the international student advisors.

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