Canada has been a sought-after destination for international students, and many have been eagerly expecting news about a potential extension to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program in 2024.
In response to labor market difficulties during the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery, a temporary policy was implemented three times to offer post-graduation work permit holders an additional 18-month work permit once their initial work permit expired.
Foreign nationals with a post-graduation employment permit expiring before December 31, 2023, can still apply for an extension under the PGWP extension 2023 policy.
However, the minister clarified that this temporary policy will not be continued further, signaling that there will be no PGWP extension policy in 2024.
Why is Another Extension Needed?
Many students whose PGWPs expire in January 2024 or later may feel they are being treated unfairly as they cannot benefit from the same extension.
These students typically rely on the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) under the Express Entry system to obtain permanent residency. However, the government has been more selective in inviting students through this pathway since September 2021.
What’s the PGWP?
The PGWP allows international graduates to work in Canada for a specified period after completing their studies. Traditionally, this permit is granted only once and cannot be extended.
However, due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a special exception was made in 2022 and 2023, allowing students with PGWPs to extend their work permits for an additional 18 months.
The current PGWP extension policy, still in effect, permits students whose permits expire before December 2023 to extend their work permits for up to 18 months. This includes students who have already received an extension in 2022.
The Change in Plans
Contrary to the hopes of many international students, a recent announcement from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) brings disappointing news. The government has decided not to extend the PGWP program into 2024.
What’s Next for International Students?
This announcement leaves many students, whose PGWPs expire in January 2024 or later, in a challenging position. With limited options for permanent residency and increased competition among temporary residents, exploring alternative pathways becomes imperative.
Advice for International Students
Those with PGWPs expiring at the beginning of 2024 should explore alternative routes to remain in Canada.
This includes staying informed about other immigration programs, considering provincial nomination options, or exploring opportunities within specific categories of the Express Entry system.