Master’s students are now eligible for a 3-year work permit

Starting today, international students pursuing master’s programs of less than two years in duration are eligible for a three-year program. postgraduate work permit (PGWP).

Before today, the length of a PGWP issued was correlated with the length of a study program. However, recognizing that master’s students are positioned to perform well in Canada’s labor market, Canada Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) has chosen to expand eligibility for these students to receive longer work permits.

The duration of PGWPs issued to students in study programs other than master’s level will continue to correspond to the duration of the study program, up to a maximum of three years.

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Students in PGWP-eligible programs designated learning institutions (DLI), the only schools in Canada authorized to accept international students, that are at least two years in length are also eligible for a longer, three-year PGWP.

In the coming weeks, IRCC will also amend the rules for spousal work permits for international students at the university level. This means that only spouses of master’s and doctoral students will be eligible to receive a spousal work permit. This change will have no impact on open work permits for spouses for spouses or marital partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

What are the PGWP eligibility criteria?

To be eligible for a PGWP, international students must:

  • Have completed studies in an academic, vocational or vocational training program of at least eight months in duration, in an eligible DLI;
  • Have studied in a program that led to the award of a degree, diploma or certificate;
  • Have full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the completed program(s), which must be indicated on the PGWP application (with certain exceptions permitted);
  • Have received a transcript and an official letter from an eligible DLI confirming that the applicant met the requirements to complete their degree program (both must be included in the PGWP application);
  • Have graduated from a public post-secondary institution such as:
    • Colleague;
    • Business or technical school;
    • University;
    • CEGEP (in Quebec);
    • Private post-secondary school (in Quebec) that operates under the same rules as public schools in Quebec;
    • Private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) that offers qualified programs of 900 hours or more and results in the issuance of a diploma of professional studies (DEP) or an attestation of professional specialization (ASP); either
    • Canadian private school that may award degrees under provincial law (for example, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate), but only if the student was enrolled in a program of study leading to a provincially authorized degree.

Any of these educational institutions must be a DLI.

Note: Beginning in September 2024, students attending a program that uses a curriculum licensing framework (where a private university is licensed to deliver the curriculum of a partner public university) will no longer be eligible to apply for a PGWP.

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