Post-graduate work permit for international students in Canada

Many foreign students completing their post-secondary education in Canada want to stay and get Canadian work experience.

Once they have completed their studies in an eligible program at an accredited post-secondary institution in Canada, graduates may apply for a post-graduate work permit to work in Canada.

In its efforts to retain foreign students, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offer the Post-Diploma Work Program. Under this program, graduates can obtain an open work permit for up to three years allowing them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry. They are not required to have an offer of employment in Canada at the time of application.

To be eligible for the program, international students must:

  • Have continuously studied full-time during the eight months preceding the end of their program and have obtained a diploma by:
  • a public post-secondary educational institution, such as a college, a technical or trade school, a university or a general and vocational college (CEGEP) in Québec,
  • a private post-secondary institution subject to the same regulations as public post-secondary institutions,
  • a Canadian private educational institution licensed to grant degrees (ie, a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree) under a provincial law, but only if the student is enrolled in a degree program, the province’s degree-granting diploma, and not any degree program offered by the private educational institution;
  • within 90 days of receiving Apply for a work permit in written confirmation from their educational institution that they have met the requirements of their program of study.
  • Hold a valid study permit when applying for a work permit.

The program of study must be a minimum of two years for graduates in order to obtain a three-year work permit. However, if the curriculum is less than two years but more than eight months, graduates can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the curriculum. If a student has obtained a recognized post-secondary degree from a one-year program of study after having obtained a diploma from a recognized university in the previous two years, the student may be eligible for a permit three years.

Note: If a student fulfills all the eligibility requirements, except for the criterion of full-time studies, he/she may still be considered eligible for a work permit if he or she has started his last semester. For example, if only two courses are required for a student to complete the degree, then the student will be eligible and may apply for a post-graduate work permit.

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