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Expired PGWP holders can now apply for a new open work permit

Canadian open work permit for PGWP holders
The government has finally released application details on the long-awaited open work permit for former international students in Canada on Tuesday. Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Struggling to extend your Canadian work permit? You can now breathe a sigh of relief if your post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is expiring soon. On August 2, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) finally released detailed instructions on applying for a new open work permit that would allow you to continue working in the country.

First announced in April this year, IRCC introduced the open work permit to serve as a lifeline for those with expiring PGWPs who had not been invited for a permanent residency application. It is also intended to fill the country’s labour shortages and post-pandemic economic recovery across different sectors.

The PGWP allows international students who graduated from Canadian tertiary learning institutions to gain Canadian work experience; it is not renewable once it ends. PGWP holders typically apply for a PR to work and remain in the country, but a previous pause in PR invitations and immigration application backlogs left many at their wits’ end.

Last week, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained that IRCC had faced setbacks in properly introducing the new Canadian work permit due to technical issues after many PGWP holders expressed frustrations over the delay.

Now that the details are released, here’s what you need to know:

New Canadian work permit: A guide for PGWP holders

Who is eligible for the open work permit?

Essentially, you qualify for the new work permit if:

  • Your PGWP expires anywhere between Sept. 20, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022.
  • You’re part of the temporary resident to permanent resident (TR2PR) programme but have not received your PR.
  • You have a valid passport.
  • You have temporary resident status.

How long is the extension period?

The new permit will prolong your right to work in Canada, but how much time you’re given will depend on your situation:

  • If your PGWP is still valid: The extension is granted up to 18 months from the date your current PGWP expires or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
  • If your PGWP has expired: The extension comes into effect up to 18 months from the date your open work permit is approved, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Passport validity is important for this application, as it determines how much time you’re granted for the extension. The IRCC advises applicants to have passports that are valid for at least another 18 months before applying for the work permit.

Canadian open work permit for PGWP holders

You can even apply for the open work permit and apply to restore your temporary resident status from outside of Canada if you’re eligible for the extension. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Can I still apply if I don’t have temporary resident status?

Yes. If you’ve lost your temporary resident status, you’re still eligible for the new Canadian open work permit, but you must apply to restore your status at the same time.

My PGWP has expired. Can I work while waiting for my open work permit to be approved?

Yes. The IRCC will issue an email to PGWP holders eligible for the new work permit stating that they’re allowed to work in the interim. This will come into effect from August 8, 2022 to May 31, 2023.

You can attach the email to your existing PGWP to inform your employer that you’re clear to legally work in Canada while waiting for your new permit.

Where can I apply for the permit?

The application is done online through IRCC’s portal. If you need to submit paper applications due to a disability or issues with the online system, click here to read more.

Not all eligible PGWP holders have to apply for the extension. The steps you need to take will vary according to your current status:

Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, your address is updated, and your passport is valid through April 2024.

You don’t need to do anything. IRCC will send your updated work permit to your mailing address by mid-October. If you receive an email from IRCC to confirm your mailing address, you don’t have to respond.

Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but you need to update your address and/or passport validity.

When you receive an email from IRCC to confirm your mailing address, follow the instructions given to make the changes.

If your passport validity is less than 18 months, you won’t receive this initial email from IRCC, but will get a separate one in September.

You’ll get instructions via email in September on how you can update your mailing address or passport validity in your online account. You have two weeks to make the changes, and once completed, your updated work permit will be mailed to your address by mid-November.

Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but you won’t be able to update your address or passport validity.

You’ll need to apply for the new Canadian work permit online. You could receive a work permit extended to your passport expiration date. You can also wait until you have a new passport with a longer validity period before applying for the permit.

Canadian open work permit for PGWP holders

Application steps for the open work permit extension depend on your current status, so make sure you’re clear on the instructions. Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but you haven’t been contacted by IRCC.

If you’ve not been contacted by mid-September, you’re not eligible for the extension through this process, for reasons such as additional information about your admissibility to Canada that is pending further review.

However, you may still apply to extend your work permit online.

Your PGWP expired or will expire from September 20, 2021, to October 1, 2022.

If you’re under this category, you’ll need to apply for your work permit online starting from August 2, 2022. If you’re in Canada and your temporary resident status has expired, you must apply to restore them at the same time. You’re permitted to restore your status, even if it has expired for more than 90 days.

You can apply for the work permit and temporary status in Canada if you’ve left the country, and return once they’re approved.

For details, visit IRCC’s website for guidance on your application process.