June 16, 2024

For many international students, the goal is not just to come to Canada to study, but to also have the opportunity to work in Canada, and perhaps become a permanent resident.

The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) has said that about 60% of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

By now, many students will already know that the duration of your study will determine the length of your post-graduate work permit (PGWP) in Canada. The PGWP allows international students to work in Canada after their study and acquire the necessary work experience needed for their career and permanent residence applications.

A one-year program will give you a one-year post-graduate work permit (PGWP), and if you do a program of 2 academic years, you will get up to a 3-year PGWP.

Starting February 15, 2024, students who graduate from master’s degree programs of less than 2 years (8 months minimum) may also be eligible for a 3 year PGWP. You can apply for a 3-year PGWP, even if the length of your master’s degree was less than 2 years, as long as you meet all other eligibility criteria.

More info on the PGWP process and requirements in Canada is available here.

Now let’s talk about other things!

When you do a one-year program and desire to get a permanent residence status to remain permanently in Canada, you will need to figure out how to become a permanent resident before the expiration of the one-year PGWP. There are several permanent residence pathways in Canada, with different requirements. You can check the popular permanent residence pathways here

To me, the one year PGWP duration is really a race against time for many students, especially for students who need to work in Canada and get at least one year of work experience in Canada to be eligible for permanent residence.

However, some students have done this successfully in the past, and were able to at least submit a full permanent residence application before the end of the one-year post graduate work permit.

But, to do this, you need to plan well!

The Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) Option

Your planning entails knowing your permanent residence options early and ensuring you submit a complete permanent residence application before the one-year PGWP will expire. If you are able to do this, you can then apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) that allows you to continue working until a decision is made on your permanent residence application.

Remember that your PGWP is only issued once in a lifetime, but the BOWP will allow you to keep working because you have a permanent residence application being processed. Note that I said you must have submitted a complete permanent residence application (so it is not just expressing interest or setting up a permanent residence profile that makes you eligible for the BOWP).

More information on the BOWP process and requirements in Canada is available here.

Many students who are able to submit a complete permanent residence application within the one-year duration of their PGWP either got a job early before/after completing their programs, and started working from when they applied for PGWP, or they only needed the Canadian Degree to get more points for other permanent residence programs like Express Entry.

Or they targeted other permanent residence programs such as:

  • Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP). More info here
  • Atlantic Immigration program. More info here
  • Student Provincial Nominee Programs. More info here

With this, they are able to meet the requirements of a permanent residence program early enough, and submitted an application to become eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) as explained above.

In other instances, students who are already working and have an employer ready to support them can get an LMIA sponsorship for work permit through their employer, and with this they can apply for other types of employer-specific work permit to continue living and working in Canada until a decision is made on their permanent residence application.

Also, it is advisable for students doing a one-year program to consider studying in provinces where there are student nominee programs that do not require a full year of Canadian work experience.

For instance, in the province of Saskatchewan, you only need 6 months of post-study work experience to become eligible for a student nomination for permanent residence. If you are that type of student who may need a nomination to increase your chances of becoming a permanent resident, then consider this, or know your other options, and plan ahead!

I have written extensively on the different student nomination programs in each province, and you can read more about the processes and requirements in each province here.

The Second Program Option

If you look at available options and it’s looking too difficult to pull through and get your permanent residence with your one-year post-graduate work permit, then you also have the option of doing a 2nd program for another year (after the first program).

With this, you can combine both programs to get up to a 3-year work permit.

The 2nd program must be done BEFORE you apply for PGWP. This is what some people call “1+1 study” in Canada.

The 2nd program can be done anywhere in Canada. It could be another school or another city/province. As long as it is a DLI that is also eligible for PGWP, you are good to go.

You will also need to extend your study permit to do the 2nd program. And you need proof of funds, and other documents to extend your study permit. The good thing is that doing a study permit extension is easier compared to what the process was when you first applied for a study visa from outside Canada. You will be submitting the application for study permit extension from inside Canada.

The Post PGWP Option

If you got a one-year PGWP and you did not become a permanent resident (or at least submitted a full permanent resident application to get a Bridging Open Work Permit – BOWP), the options left for you when your PGWP expires are:

  • Return to school again and get a new study permit (but you won’t get another PGWP after that)
  • Find a job/employer to support you with a valid job offer (and LMIA), and sponsor you for a separate work permit
  • Be sponsored for permanent residence by a spouse/partner who is a permanent resident or Canadian Citizen
  • Apply for a visitor record to maintain valid status (you cannot work legally with this, but can remain in Canada legally to explore your PR options)

Otherwise, you will be required to leave Canada!

Lastly, we are hearing of a new permanent residence program that Canada is planning for international students/Graduates and temporary residents in the country. There is no official confirmation on this yet, but if this happens and the program becomes available, it will be helpful for a lot of students.

Be on the lookout for this, and regularly check the available resources and information we’ve compiled here.

I hope someone finds this useful!

If you have questions on Career & Personal Development, Education Decisions, Global Opportunities, Building a Personal Brand, or related discussions, and want to reach out to us, click here.

NB: The posts and information on this website are not legal advice.

© Olu of Canada

40 thoughts on “How to use a one-year study program to stay back in Canada

  1. Thank you Olufemi for such useful information. I am interested in s professional master’s program that is 20 months in duration. What duration of PGWP can I get on that please? What if I have a Canadian postgraduate diploma (acquired via distance learning) in addition?

    1. Your 20 months program should get you a 3-year post grad work permit. Online studies that will count as part of the work permit must be from a DLI that is eligible for PGWP in Canada. And that’s open till Aug 31, 2023. After then online studies will no longer count towards PGWP duration in Canada.

  2. This is very helpful because I’ve been considering 1 year program due to limited funds.

    Please kindly recommend a college with under 5k tuition for graduate certificate if you know any.

  3. Good morning bro, thanks so much for this useful info. I am applying for a one-year diploma program in personal support worker at the Canadian career college. Can I also apply for work permit after my studies or I will be sent back home after the expiration of my studies? Why I am asking is because you only talked about the postgraduate diploma.

    1. Work permit after study is based on the school having post-graduate work permit eligibility. The school you mentioned doesn’t have that, so you can’t use any of their program to apply for work permit.

  4. I really appreciate this. If I want to apply for another one-year study , when is best suitable to apply? Is it after completion of the first one-year program or before completion of the program. Thanks

  5. Thank you Olu for the writeup. Please if I apply for a 16 months Graduate Certificate Program will I be qualified for the 3 years PGWP.

  6. Please is a professional certificate from a college accepted for pgwp? Supply Chain Professional Certificate from Norquest College

  7. Hello sir, thanks for the information.
    Can someone applying for a one year graduate certificate course come with his/her dependants. And would you advice a one year course or it’s better to look for a 2 years course…lastly, I am confuse about the diploma, advance diploma courses, i thought diploma and advance diploma is higher than Bsc.. but I am seeing that even after finishing any of the 2 one has to move to doing BSC not even post graduate diploma. I await your reply sir.

    1. Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas are NOT higher than BSC, what is higher than a Bsc is Post-Graduate Diploma, or Post-graduate Certificate, or Graduate Certificate. And yes, someone coming for a one-year program can apply with their dependants.

  8. Thank you so much. Please I want to know when to apply for study permit extension for a one year program after getting admission for the second program, is it after the full completion of the first program or before the completion? (To apply for the study permit extension.)

  9. Mr olu ,
    I will like to ask if is possible to Enroll for two different programs in the same college and take it one after the other to make it 2 years

  10. Hello Mr Olu, I used OJC groupchat on telegram and it really helped me with my visa.
    I’m currently in Canada as a student.

    I want to start working as a PSW (they posted that with 12 months experience now, I can file in for PR) – please is it true that if I get 1year experience of being a PSW as student won’t count as a student? Because they won’t see it as proper work experience?

      1. Happy birthday!
        Last one please. If I’m doing a 1 year course. And I get 1 year PGWP – if I get my 1560hrs in PSW field. Is it enough to file for my PR?

  11. Hy Mr Olu
    I don’t have any degree here in Nigeria
    Can I apply for a 2years diploma in Canada?
    And am 31years
    Pls help me

  12. Hi Olu, wow Thank you so much for the information. Please if one applies for a 1-year program but ended up finishing in 16 months due to some circumstances, can it qualify for a 3 years PGWP? Thanks

  13. This is really helpful and informative. Thank you very much Olu.

    I would like to ask though, for a student who got a student visa for 8 months using the LOA issued at April for a May school session but got a deferment letter for September due to visa processing timing. What would you advise as the visa does not cover the entire school session with the issued visa? Thank you

  14. Thank you so much for this Mr Olu. Please I would like to ask if I can apply for PR after my one year post graduate program in Canada using my 6 years experience in the IT sector in Nigeria or I must have Canadian work experience

  15. Thank you so much for this Mr Olu. Please I would like to ask if I can apply for PR after my one year post graduate program in Canada using the over 6 years experience I have in Nigeria or I must have Canadian work experience

  16. Hi,

    Thank you for the priceless information! If I’m enrolled in a 1 year graduate certificate course (usually ends in 8 months) and I take a 4 month coop program afterwards, what would be the likely length of PGWP in this scenario?

  17. Thank you for the information. I have a question. If I applied for a one year course and I’m planning on extending by applying for another course. Will I still pay the same amount as an international student since I’m already in Canada ?

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