I am currently studying in Canada. What are my options for staying in Canada after my studies?

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several options available to international students who wish to stay in Canada upon completing their studies.

Post-Graduate Work Permit

Upon completing studies from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution, international students may apply for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) allowing them to work in Canada. This permit will allow them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry, for up to three years after graduation, depending on the length of their program of study. It is an open work permit and does not require a job offer at the time of application.

An individual who has studied full-time at a qualifying institution for at least eight months may apply for a PGWP. Those who have completed a study program that is shorter than eight months in duration, are not eligible for a PGWP.

Applicants must hold a valid study visa when applying for a PGWP and must do so within 90 days of receiving written confirmation (e.g. an official letter or transcript) from the educational institution indicating that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study. The 90 days are calculated from the day final marks are released or the day they receive written confirmation, whichever comes first.

PGWP holders are free to leave and return to Canada and work at any time as long the PGWP is valid. Additionally, graduates may submit an application for permanent residence while applying for a PGWP.

A PGWP cannot be renewed. When a PGWP is due to expire, the holder must apply for a different permit or visa if they wish to continue to stay and/or work in Canada.

Employer-Specific Work Permit

Employer-specific work permits require the holder of the permit to only work for the employer listed on the permit. Holders of employer-specific work permits must also comply with the conditions outlined on the permit, which includes how long they can work and the location where they can work, where applicable.

Applying for an employer-specific work permit must be supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada; or proof that an employer has submitted an offer of employment through the Employer Porter and paid the necessary employer compliance fee.

Because an employer-specific work permit applies to a specific employer, in the event the holder wishes to change employers they will have to apply for a new work permit. Only those individuals on an open work permit may change employers without reapplying.

Express Entry

Express Entry is an electronic process involving the federal and provincial governments; and Canadian employers. It is used to manage applications for the following immigration programs:

  • The Federal Skilled Worker Program,
  • The Federal Skilled Trades Program, and
  • The Canadian Experience Class

Provinces and Territories can also recruit candidates from the Express Entry system through their Provincial Nominee Programs.

The Express Entry process involves two stages. First, individuals will submit an online profile outlining details of their skills, work experience, language ability, education and other details that will help in assessing eligibility. Those individuals who meet the criteria for one of the federal immigration programs are then entered into a pool with other eligible candidates. Second, candidates in the pool are ranked against one another using a point-based system. Points are awarded based on the information provided in the candidate’s online profile. Those candidates with the highest scores will be issued an “invitation to apply” (ITA). Upon receiving an ITA, a candidate will have 90 days to file their application for permanent residence in Canada.

If an international student is married or in a common-law relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, there is an option of being sponsored to stay in Canada as a permanent resident under the Family Class sponsorship program.

We can help you decide what options are best for you. For a detailed assessment of your immigration options, contact our Immigration Lawyers in Canada for a consultation by emailing us or by calling 416-847-3347.