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