Many international students who complete post-secondary education in Canada wish to stay and obtain Canadian work experience.
Once they have completed their studies in an eligible program at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, international graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which allows them to work in Canada.
In its effort to retain international students, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) operates a Post-Graduate Work Permit Program. Under this program, international graduates may obtain a three year open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry. They are not required to have a Canadian job offer at the time of application.
To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must:
- have continuously studied full-time in Canada in a study program at least eight months long;
- a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions;
- a private secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS); or
- a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees (i.e., bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, doctorate), but only if the student is enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree, as authorized by the province, and not in just any program of study offered by the private institution;
- apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their academic institution that they have met the requirements of their program;
- have completed and passed the program of study and received written notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate; and
- have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.
Potential applicants should note that:
- the program of study must be a minimum of two years for the graduate to obtain the three year work permit. However, if the program was less than two years but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the program of study. In cases where a student has obtained a one year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution within two years of having successfully completed a previous accredited Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma, he or she may qualify for a three-year open work permit; and
- if a student fulfills all the requirements except full-time study in the final session of their program, the student may still apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the program but all previous study has been full time, he or she may still apply for the open work permit.
For more information, please consult the Post-Graduation Work Permit Frequently Asked Questions page.