Canada’s Immigration Minister signals that changes are coming to post-study work rights

For more than 15 years now, international students have been able to come to Canada, complete any type of post-secondary programme, and then be eligible for an open work permit on graduation.

This policy, the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), has been a major driver of the significant growth in Canada’s foreign enrolment over the last decade. And it explains in part the large share of that enrolment that is distributed across one or two-year post-graduate diplomas or in college programmes of similar length.

The last time the PGWP policy was significantly changed was in 2008, at which point the programme expanded to allow foreign graduates to gain an open work permit for up to three years, depending on the length of their programme of study. There have been no restrictions on location or programme of study, nor are there any requirements in terms of a job offer or minimum income threshold.

It appears, however, that change is on the near horizon for the PGWP. An internal IRCC briefing document reports that, “PGWP [participation] increased by 214% in 2023 compared to 2018.”

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