Canada’s Post-Graduate Work Permit (“PGWP”) program allows international students who have completed certain Canadian post-secondary programs to obtain work permits after graduating. The work permits are open, meaning that the graduates can work for any employer(s) in any Canadian province(s). It is a fantastic program that enhances the competitiveness of Canadian post-secondary institutions internationally, and is normally an essential transitory step for international graduates looking to eventually obtain Canadian permanent residency.
However, every year there are many international students who mistakenly think that they will be eligible to participate in the program after graduating only to discover midway through their studies that they cannot. It is accordingly very important that all international students in Canada understand how the PGWP program works.
Basis in Law
Section 205 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations provides the government with the authority to create programs to issue work permits to foreign nationals when it is satisfied that public policy objectives relating to the competiveness of Canada’s economy or academic institutions are met. The PGWP is one of these programs, and detailed information about it can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) website here.
As the Federal Court has noted in numerous decisions (such as Osahar v. Canada), immigration officers can determine these requirements to be binding.
Eligibility and Validity
Outside of Quebec, in order for an international graduate to obtain a PGWP after graduating, an international student must:
- have a valid study permit when applying for their PGWP;
- have continuously studied full time in Canada, except for the final academic session, where part-time studies are permitted;
- have completed and passed a program of study that is at least eight months in duration at either a public post-secondary institution,
Last updated on May 8th, 2019
International Experience Canada (“IEC“) provides young individuals the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. The program has grown considerably since it was introduced in 1951, and in 2016 IEC comprised 22% of International Mobility Program (“IMP“) work permits, making it the largest component of the IMP.
The IEC Programs
Participation in IEC is currently available to the citizens of 34 countries that have a bilateral youth mobility arrangement (a “YMA“) with Canada. The three most common IEC programs are the Working Holiday Program (the “WHP”), the Young Professionals Program (the “YPP“) and the International Co-op Internship (the “IEC Co-Op“). While eligibility requirements vary somewhat for each country, participation is typically open to young adults between the ages of 18 to 30 or 35.
Under the WHP, participating young adults obtain open work permits which allow them to work anywhere in Canada. This is the largest IEC stream, and comprises 81% of IEC.
Under the YPP, participating young adults can obtain employer-specific work permits if they have a job offer that contributes to their professional development related to their field of study and work for the same employer for the duration of their stay.
Under the IEC Co-Op, participating young adults can obtain an employer specific work permit if they are enrolled in a post-secondary institution, have a job offer that is related to their field of study and work for the same employer for the duration of their stay.Read more ›
On July 1, 2015, the Government of Canada published regulations in the Canada Gazette that introduce an Administrative Monetary Penalty (“AMP“) regime into the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP“) and the International Mobility Program (“IMP“). Both Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) and the Ministry of Employment and Social Development (“ESDC“) will administer the AMP. In addition, the regulations will replace the exiting two-year ban period for employer non-compliance with 1, 2, 5, 10 year, and permanent bans.
The amendments will take effect on December 1, 2015.
The Administrative Monetary Penalty Regime
Under the new AMP regime, employer non-compliance will be divided into three types of violations.
Type A violations will include where an employer:
- is unable to demonstrate that any information that it provided in respect of a work permit application was accurate during a period of six years beginning on the first day of the foreign national’s employment;
- did not retain document(s) that relates to employer compliance with cited conditions during a period of six years, beginning on the first day of the foreign national’s employment
- did not have sufficient resources to pay a live-in caregiver(s);
- could not demonstrate that any information that it provided for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) application was accurate during a period of six years beginning on the first day of the foreign national’s employment;
- did not report at any time and place specified to answer questions and provide documents during an ESDC audit;
- did not produce required documents during an ESDC inspection; and
- did not attend any ESDC inspection, nor give all reasonable assistance to the ESDC officer conducting the inspection.
Type B violations will include where an employer:
- did not comply with federal and provincial laws that regulate employment;
Last updated on August 13th, 2019
“Flagpoling,” also known as “sidedooring,” are terms which describe the process of individuals who are inside Canada travelling briefly to the United States and then upon re-entry to Canada submitting an application at a Canadian port of entry (“POE“). For most individuals who are eligible to flag-pole it is the preferred method to obtain study permits, work permits, and to have their Confirmations of Permanent Residence signed. The reason is because it typically takes a Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA“) officer less than 30 minutes to process an application, whereas it can take Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) weeks or months to either process an application or schedule a landing interview.
Who Can Flag-Pole (Work Permits)
In the work permit context, regulation 198 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”) provides that:
(1) Subject to subsection (2), a foreign national may apply for a work permit when entering Canada if the foreign national is exempt under Division 5 of Part 9 from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa.
(2) A foreign national may not apply for a work permit when entering Canada if
(a) a determination under section 203 is required, unless
(i) the Department of Employment and Social Development has provided an opinion under paragraph 203(2)(a) in respect of an offer of employment — other than seasonal agricultural employment or employment as a live-in caregiver — to the foreign national, or
(ii) the foreign national is a national or permanent resident of the United States or is a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon;
(b) the foreign national does not hold a medical certificate that they are required to hold under subsection 30(4);Read more ›
On May 21, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) introduced a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) exemption for individuals who are coming to Canada to repair industrial or commercial equipment that is no longer under warranty or covered by an after-sales or lease agreement.
The LMIA exemption code is C13.Read more ›
The Ministry of Employment and Social Development (“ESDC”) has announced that there will be several changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (“TFWP”) that will take effect on April 30, 2015.
The changes are:
- Implementation of new High and Low-wage Streams
- Updating the Provincial / Territorial Median Hourly Wages
- Increasing Worker Protections
- Modifying the Method for Calculating the Cap on Low Wage Positions
- Implementing the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) system fully in Quebec
- Updating Regions of Refusal to Process
On February 11, 2015, the Government of Canada publicized amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations that affected most applicants in the International Mobility Program (the “IMP“).
The IMP includes all streams of work permit applications that are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) process, including workers covered by free trade agreements, people participating in exchange programs like International Experience Canada (“IEC“), provincial nominees, intra-company transferees, post-graduate work permit holders, etc.
In reviewing the changes described below, it is important to understand the distinction between a closed work permit and an open work permit. A closed work permit limits a foreign worker to a particular employer. An open work permit allows the foreign worker to work for any employer.
- The changes consist of:
- Requiring that employers of prospective closed work permit holders in the IMP provide information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) before their prospective employees apply for work permits;
- Requiring that employers of prospective closed work permit holders pay a $230.00 “employer compliance fee” per employee before their prospective employees apply for work permits; and
- Introducing a new $100.00 “privilege fee” on open work permit applicants.
The Government of Canada has announced that the above changes will all take effect on February 21, 2015.Read more ›
Last updated on February 4th, 2019
[UPDATE FEBRUARY 5, 2018]
The Government of Canada has very quietly announced that it is closing the Caregiver programs described below on November 29, 2019. Applicants who did not start working as caregivers prior to that date will be unable to apply under these programs.
On November 28, 2014, the Government of Canada issued Ministerial Instructions completely overhauling Canada’s caregiver immigration programs.
The changes consist of:
- Suspending the in-take of applications under the existing Live-in Caregiver Program;
- Establishing the Caring for Children Class; and
- Establishing the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Class.
The above changes all take effect on November 30, 2014.Read more ›
On September 26, 2014, Canada and the European Uniona agreed to adopt the The Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (“CETA“), with the goal at the time being that the agreement will take effect in 2016. While that ultimately did not happen, on October 30, 2016, Canada and the European Union signed a final version of the agreement.
Chapter 10 of CETA provides for the facilitation of the temporary entry of business persons. The European Union’s commitments are the most ambitious that the region has ever negotiated in a free trade agreement. For Canada, the CETA’s temporary contain similar ideas to those contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA“), although there are very significant differences.
CETA is significant from a Canadian immigration perspective because prospective foreign workers who are eligible for work permits under CETA do not require Labour Market Impact Assessments (“LMIAs“).
Any Canadian businesses seeking to hire United States or Mexican nationals will typically begin by determining whether their prospective employees are eligible for work permits under NAFTA. When CETA takes affect, the same will be true for Canadian employers hiring citizens from the European Union.Read more ›
Last updated on May 28th, 2019
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) has a program to facilitate the ability of francophone foreign workers to enter Canada. The benefit of the program, called Moibilte Francophone, is that no Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) is required. This means that employers of prospective francophone foreign workers do not need to pass a labour market test in order to employ francophone foreign workers.
To qualify for the LMIA exemption, applicants must:
- apply at a visa office outside Canada;
- be going to work in an occupation which falls under National Occupation Classification 0, A or B;
- have French as his/her habitual language; and
- be destined to a province other than Quebec.
Here are some other key things to note about the program.
1. Recruitment through a francophone immigration promotional event coordinated between the federal government and francophone minority communities is no longer required.
Previously, participation in Moibilte Francophone was restricted to prospective foreign workers recruited through government promotional events. This requirement, which the government interpreted incredibly broadly in any event, is no longer the case.
Previously, the program worked as follows:
2. Habitual French speaking abilities are required, but not for the job.
To approve the work permit application officers must be satisfied that the foreign national’s habitual language of daily use is French.
Where the officer is not satisfied the foreign national’s habitual language is French, applicants may need to attend an interview or provide language results demonstrating an advanced intermediate level or above in French. An “advanced/intermediate” level is defined as Canadian Language Benchmark 7. » Read more about: LMIA Exemption for Francophones »Read more ›
Please note that none of the information on this website should be construed as being legal advice. As well, you should not rely on any of the information contained in this website when determining whether and how to apply to a given program. Canadian immigration law is constantly changing, and the information above may be dated. If you have a question about the contents of this blog, or any question about Canadian immigration law, please contact the Author.
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