postgraduate work permit new rules Canada
New rules for the postgraduate work permit in Canada have been announced, which allow for flexibility due to disruption caused by COVID-19. Source: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images via AFP

International graduates planning to work in Canada with a postgraduate work permit (PGWP) should take note of new rules coming into effect in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities to close and classes to go online, leading many international students in Canada frazzled and worried about their future in Canada.

One upside is that the new rules for the postgraduate work permit will be accommodating this shift.

According to a recent statement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), “Under normal circumstances, criteria for the PGWPP (Post-Graduation Work Permit Program) limit an international student’s ability to pursue a programme via distance learning, from inside or outside Canada, and time spent studying outside Canada is deducted from the length of the work permit for which they are eligible.

“PGWPP eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.”

Under the new rules, international students can begin their classes from outside Canada and complete up to 50 percent of their programme virtually if they cannot travel to Canada sooner. This relaxation is in effect until December 31, 2020.

One of the criteria to apply for the PGWP is demonstrating a minimum duration of time studied in Canada. Under the previous rules, any time spent in a distance learning course would be deducted from this duration.

postgraduate work permit new rules Canada

The Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force air acrobatics team, fly over Montreal in a morale-building tour of Canada called “Operation Inspiration » as Canadians enter their third month of social distancing and isolation during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on May 7, 2020. Source: Sebastien St-Jean / AFP

Why is the PGWP important for international students?

Besides the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in Canada, the PGWP is important for international students as it’s the first step towards becoming a permanent resident, the equivalent of a green card in the US.

They can earn more points under the Express-Entry route to become a permanent resident with Canadian education and work experience.

Even if they don’t intend on becoming a permanent resident, they still stand to gain valuable work experience abroad.

The global perspectives and experience working in different environments don’t just look good on CVs, but make for great talking points in future job interviews too.

According to the IRCC, “International education represents a significant economic benefit to Canada, with international students contributing CA$21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supporting nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018. International students are also often excellent candidates to apply to remain in Canada permanently, with nearly 54,000 former students becoming permanent residents in Canada in 2018.”

To apply for the postgraduate work permit, click here.

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