December 6, 2022

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 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!

Your planning entails knowing your permanent residence options early and ensuring you make 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.

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.

Also, it will be 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.

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 since you will be applying from inside Canada.

If you got a one-year PGWP and didn’t become a permanent resident (or at least submitted a full permanent resident application to get a Bridging Open Work Permit – BOWP), the options left 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 sponsor you for a separate work permit
  • Be sponsored for permanent residence by a spouse/partner who is a permanent resident or 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 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.

© Olu of Canada

9 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.

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