new open work permit in canada
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained that the IRCC's outdated tech system hampered their efforts to introduce the open work permit, and assured hinted at an update about the open work permit within the week. Source: Lars Hagberg/AFP

Good news for international student graduates in the True North: more candidates will be eligible for the new open work permit in Canada for post–graduate work permit (PGWP) holders. The government recently revealed that the eligibility start date has been pushed back to September 20, 2021 to allow more temporary residents to continue working in the country legally. 

In a Twitter post published on June 24, 2022, Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser officially announced the date change to fill in labour shortages in the country. “As Canada’s economy continues to recover, there remain hundreds of thousands of jobs waiting to be filled. Hard-working international graduates make enormous contributions to their communities and our economy,” the statement read. 

Previously, only those with PGWPs expiring between January 31 and December 31, 2022, would be eligible for the new open work permit in Canada. The initial news dismayed many PGWP holders that narrowly missed out on the eligibility date, many of whom are still awaiting permanent residency approval due to the current swell in immigration application backlogs. 

The plan to offer open work permits to PGWP holders was first unveiled on April 22, 2022 as a short-term solution to enable temporary residents to continue working in Canada for up to 18 months after their current permit expires. As the PGWP is a one-time, non-renewable deal, PGWP holders are placed in a precarious position once their time is up. 

According to CIC News, more than 88,000 PGWP holders successfully obtained PR in 2021. Although PGWP holders stand out among PR candidates due to their Canadian education and work experience, bureaucratic hiccups mean that their transition to becoming immigrants isn’t always smooth-sailing.

They will either have to apply for a new work permit in Canada, or risk losing their employment, and might even be forced to leave the country permanently if their PR isn’t approved on time. 

new open work permit in Canad

The latest update on the new open work permit in Canada is welcome news for many PGWP holders who argued that they narrowly missed out on the eligibility date. Source: Mark Ralston/AFP

New open work permit in Canada: What international students should know

As the government sets its plans into motion for the upcoming weeks, here’s what we know so far about the new open work permit if you’re an international graduate in Canada: 

How can I apply for the new open work permit? 

Since the news broke in April, Canada has yet to outline the necessary steps for application. So far, the only known details from prior news are the validity period of the permit (18 months), and the eligibility of candidates who qualify for it (those with PGWPs expiring anywhere between September 21, 2021 to December 31, 2022). 

Will it be easier to get a PR with the new permit? 

There’s no indication whether getting an extended work permit will prop up your PR chances, but it does give you more room to breathe while you await the government’s final decision. You may also apply for a PR through the Express Entry system — which will soon reopen in July — if you’ve submitted your immigration application through another pathway. 

The Express Entry is Canada’s main source of admitting newcomers, which was momentarily paused last year due to the current system backlogs. However, the usual points-based system to rank PR candidates may soon be overhauled with the introduction of Bill C-19, which confers more authority to the Immigration Minister to select newcomers based on the country’s economic needs. 

New open work permit in Canada allows more foreign graduates to continue employment

With labour shortages abound across Canada, international graduates may have a higher chance of securing employment that could lead to long-term settlement in the current job market. Source: Benedicte Brocard/AFP

I don’t meet the eligibility requirements for the new permit. What can I do to stay? 

If your PGWP expiry date doesn’t fall within the time window stipulated, you can apply for the Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) while waiting for the outcome of your PR application. The BOWP is an existing measure for you to legally remain and resume employment under either one of the following conditions: 

  • If you hold a valid work permit in Canada
  • If you have maintained status and authorisation to work in Canada due to submitting an application to renew your work permit
  • If you are eligible to restore temporary resident status with authorisation for employment under a work permit 

PR applicants under the three categories under the Express Entry programme, the Provincial Nominee Programme (PNP), the Quebec Skilled Workers programme, and the Agri-Food Pilot programme can all be considered for the BOWP.