By: Dean de Jesus, RCIC
Post Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) is becoming one of Canada’s popular immigration gateway as it tries to meet its aggressive immigration targets for the next three years.
Based on the 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada aims to welcome 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, 411,000 in 2022, and 421,000 in 2023.
PGWPP allows students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Skilled Canadian work experience in National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0 or skill level A or B gained through the PGWPP helps graduates qualify for permanent residence in Canada through the Canadian experience class.
International Study Permit as the First step to PGWP
The first step to the PGWP is usually for international students to come to Canada under a Study Permit, then apply for a Post-graduation Work Permit, and finally seek their permanent residents through the Express Entry system- Canadian Experience Class.
On average, Canada welcomes more than 350,000 international students every year. Among other eligibility requirements, the international student should have been accepted by a school, college, university or other educational institution in Canada and have enough money to pay for their tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation.
Once issued a study permit, these students can work in Canada under the following categories:
- on-campus without a work permit;
- off-campus with a work permit;
- co-op and internship programs, where work experience is part of the curriculum, with a work permit.
Upon graduation, an international student may apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. The work permit may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years.
Recent trends in Study Permits and PGWPP
According to recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Covid 19 pandemic significantly impacted Canada’s foreign enrollment in 2020.
IRCC reports that as of December 31, 2020, 530,540 international students were holding Canadian study permits. This is nearly a 17% decrease from the 638,960 students reported at the same point in 2019, and this represents the first decline in foreign enrolment in Canada in the last 20 years.
In the five years before the pandemic struck, however, the report reveals that the number of international students in Canada had climbed by more than 80%, making the country the fastest-growing among the world’s leading study destinations during that period. Even with the year-over-year decline from 2019 to 2020, international student permits grew by 135% overall between 2010 and 2020.
On the other hand, the number of Post-Graduation Work Permits ( PGWPs) that the Canadian Government issued grew from 56,538 in 2017 to 98,502 in 2019, increasing 41,964 permits, or 74.2%.
On a percentage basis, the number of PGWPs outpaced growth in the number of new study permits issued over the same period. The number of new study permits issued grew from 194,322 to 245,174, an increase of 26.2%.
PGWPP’s Significance to Overall Immigration Program and economy
The Government of Canada is seen as vigorously supporting international students and PGWPP. In a February 12, 2021 news release, it said,
“International students bring so much to Canada, contributing more than $21 billion annually to our economy and supporting the vitality of our communities. The pandemic has presented myriad challenges for international students, and the Government of Canada has taken action to assist them through this difficult time with a variety of measures, including offering open work permits for former international students who hold a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).”
As part of the Government’s efforts to support international students, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced in the said news release to “further measures to ensure that international students won’t miss out on opportunities after they graduate due to the pandemic.”
In conclusion, the International Student program combined with PGWPP is a significant boost to both Canadian immigration and the economy in general due to the following:
- A Government of Canada report (Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019-2024) reveals that “in 2018, international students in Canada contributed an estimated $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supported almost 170,000 jobs for Canada’s middle class. This is a significant economic contribution—and one that is felt right across the country.”
- Canada believes that international students benefit from making our population diverse, contributing to the community they reside in.
- Former immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said at a news conference to announce the Student Direct Stream Program on June 8, 2018, that international students are “ideal Canadian of the future as they are well educated and usually speaks one, if not both of our official languages. International students also strengthen Canada’s people-to-people ties with many other countries that allow Canada, as a trading nation, to access more markets and build relationships, cultural, educational and otherwise with many other countries and societies.”
BY: Dean de Jesus, IRCC