On May 14, the Government of Canada announced changes to the eligibility requirements for the work permit sought by many foreign students, which is obtained after graduating from some of Canada’s designated learning institutions. The changes were implemented after the impact that the Covid-19 has had on the international student community.

Before going into the details regarding the announced changes, for the reader who is not familiar with the post graduation work permit (PGWP), it is a work permit that can be applied for by any international student, who has studied a Canadian program within Canada at a designated academic institution and that such program has lasted at least 8 months and has resulted in the award of a certificate, diploma or degree. The permit is granted after the student has completed his or her studies, provided that the student has complied, during the course of his or her studies, with all the other requirements established by the applicable law in order to be eligible to apply for the PGWP

Having said that, it is clear that this work permit, the PGWP, is one of the biggest hooks for international students, since it will allow them to stay and work in Canada after finishing their studies; it is an open work permit, so graduates are not conditioned to find a job in an industry related to their field of study, and that is why for many foreigners it represents the safest way to obtain the opportunity to apply for permanent residence once they have obtained enough work experience in Canada.

As mentioned above, to be a candidate for the aforementioned work permit, there are a series of additional requirements that are quite understandable and simple, such as: maintaining good academic performance, remaining a full-time student for all semesters of study (except for the last semester which can be part-time), applying within 180 days after the completion of studies, among others. For this article, we are particularly concerned with the requirement that studies must take place in person and within Canada; it is precisely that requirement which, for the first time, has been temporarily removed by the Canadian government, by virtue of supporting international students who have been affected by the current pandemic as specified on the official website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

What does this mean? It means that international students who are enrolled at a designated learning institution and whose fall courses must be taken online will not be affected and will still be eligible for a PGWP. Also, international students who are outside of Canada and will begin classes in the fall of 2020 will be able to complete up to 50 percent of their program online, if they are unable to travel to Canada in advance, and will still be eligible to apply for a PGWP after graduation. Furthermore, the time they have required to study remotely outside of Canada will not be deducted from their work permit. This flexibility will apply for studies taken before December 31st, 2020.

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