Canadian work permit
International students can study online abroad until April and still be eligible for a Canadian work permit. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images/AFP

International students applying for a Canadian work permit will not have the length of their post-graduation work permit (PGWP) deducted even if they are studying online outside the country. The new rule recently announced by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will apply as long they complete 50% of their studies in Canada, according to CIC News. This relaxation will take effect until April 30, 2021, extended from the previous Dec. 31, 2020 deadline.

For students enrolled in a programme lasting eight to 12 months and starting from May to September 2020, they will be able to complete their entire programme abroad and still be eligible for a PGWP. Prior to the pandemic, international students are ineligible for a Canadian work permit if they studied online and were not enrolled in a full-time programme for at least eight months.

Another new rule states that international students who fulfill the following requirements will be able to combine the length of their programmes when they apply for a PGWP:

  • enrolled in a programme with a start date between May and September 2020
  • study online up to April 30, 2021
  • complete 50% of studies in Canada
  • graduate from more than one eligible programme. 

Canada bolsters efforts to support international students 

The series of measures above are aimed at supporting international students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes introducing the two-step Canadian study permit approval process which will allow international students to start the semester online without a finalised study permit, and providing priority study permit processing for students who have submitted a complete application online to ensure that permits are processed as quickly as possible.

The PGWP is highly coveted among international students as it allows them to remain in the country and gain valuable Canadian work experience after graduating from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs).Students can work full-time for up to three years, but the ultimate duration of the PGWP depends on the length of time the individual studied at a Canadian DLI.

The PGWP is important for international students as it’s the first step towards becoming a permanent resident, or the equivalent of a green card in the US. To be eligible for these new measures, CIC News said students must submit a study permit application before starting a programme of study in the spring/summer/fall 2020 semester or for the January 2021 semester. 

Students must be eventually approved for a study permit. IRCC added that Canada’s COVID-19 related restrictions will be eased based on progress made in Canada and abroad in containing the coronavirus’ spread. It will continue to monitor the Canadian and international situation as it explores additional changes to make.

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