International students who complete an eligible study program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) often qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). It is not a secrete that this program is hugely popular among international students. Getting a PGWP opens doors to gaining a valuable Canadian work experience. Importantly, holding a PGWP is a requirement of many immigration programs designed to facilitate permanent residence of international graduates. Read on to learn what requirements you need to meet to get a PGWP.

Requirements for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

Foreign nationals (e.g. International Students) may obtain only one Post-Graduation Work Permit in their lifetime. In addition, the applicant must have:

  1. graduated from an eligible Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  2. completed studies that took place in Canada (online programs or studies at foreign branches of a DLI school do not qualify)
  3. completed an academic, vocational or professional training that was at least 8 months in duration
  4. maintained a full-time student status during each academic session (with exceptions of the final academic session or if there was ‘Leave from studies‘)
  5. received a transcript and an official letter from the Designated Learning Institution that he/she fulfilled all the requirement for the completion of the studies
  6. graduated from a:

    • public post-secondary school, such as a college, trade/technical school, university, or CEGEP (in Quebec), or
    • private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec, or
    • private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer, that leads to a diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP), or
    • Canadian private school that can award degrees under provincial law (for example, Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree) but only if you’re enrolled in a study program that leads to a degree as authorized by the province

When to Apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit

Timing is everything. This is still true even after the changes from February 2019, which have relaxed the rules. The applicants may submit their application if these conditions are met:

  1. not more than 180 days have passed since the school issued your final marks
  2. at some point during those 180 days you held a valid study permit

Note: Recent international graduates may apply from overseas as long as they meet the 180-day requirement.

Validity of a Post-Graduation Work Permit

A Post Graduation Work Permit may be valid for a period between 8 month and 3 years. This depends on the length of your study program.

Study programs from 8 months to less than 2 years in duration

International students who complete a study program that is a minimum 8 months in length up to less than 2 years will likely be issued a PGWP that matches the length of their study program.


10-month long certificate program = Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for 10 months

23-month long diploma program =  Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for 23 months

Study programs that are at least 2 years and longer

International student that graduate from a study program of at least 2 years in duration or longer will likely receive a PGWP valid for 3 years.


2-year long certificate program = Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for 3 years

30-month long diploma program = Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for 3 years

3-year long degree program = Post-Graduation Work Permit valid for 3 years

Good News for Hardworking Students

Importantly, government immigration officers have discretion to determine the length of the work permit. If an international student completes a program faster, in an accelerated form, than the official length of the program, the officer may issue a PGWP to match the official length of the program. For example, if an international students completes an 18-month study program in 12 months, the officer is allowed to issue a work permit for 18 months. 

Open Work Permit for a Spouse of an International Graduate

Spouses of applicants for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) are eligible for an open work permit providing that the applicant for PGWP has an employment offer for an NOC 0, A or B occupation or provides past 3 pay slips that show employment in a such occupation.