Immigrating After Studying

The Canadian government encourages international students who can demonstrate an ability to contribute to the Canadian economy to immigrate or work temporarily in Canada. Many graduates obtain a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) first, to gain valuable work experience, before applying for permanent residence.

International graduates have a clear pathway to permanent residence under the following immigration programs:

  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC);
  • Quebec Experience Class (PEQ);
  • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP).


The Canadian province where you studied may have a PNP stream that makes you eligible to apply for permanent residence under its PNP Express Entry. In addition, some provinces allow former international students to apply under their PNP, even if they studied in a different province.

Post-Graduation Work Permits for International Students

Many students choose to stay in Canada to live and work after completion of their studies. Some graduates are eligible to obtain post-graduation work permits to facilitate their stay in Canada after completing their studies.

Students must meet the following criteria:

  • The program of study must be a minimum of two years in order for the graduate to obtain the three- year work permit. However, if the program was less than two years, but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the program of study. In cases where a student has obtained a one- year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution within two years of having successfully completed a previous accredited Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma, he or she may qualify for a three-year open work permit; and
  • While a student must have been studying full-time in the eight months preceding the date of application for an open work permit, an exception is made in the case where a student meets all the requirements, except full-time study, in the last session of their program. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the program, but all previous studies have been full-time, the student may still apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program;
  • A student must provide a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that he met the requirements to complete his study program of study. Both should be included in a post-graduation work permit application.


You will have 180 days to apply for the post-graduate work permit and during that time you are not required to hold a valid study permit.

As seen from the above-mentioned requirements, a post-graduation work permit can be valid for up to three years, depending on the duration of the study program in Canada. If you hold this type of permit, you will be able to work for any employer and there’s no need for your employer to acquire a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Canada wants to encourage international graduates to build a long-term career in the country. So the post-graduate work permit gives chance to such students who graduate Canadian post-secondary institutions to acquire valuable work experience. And with Canadian experience, can apply for the permanent residence immigration programs.