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Canada Announces Temporary Policy Changes to PGWP Program

Canada Announces Temporary Policy Changes to PGWP Program

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Canada Announces Temporary Policy Changes to PGWP Program

Because of the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on international students and the postsecondary sector, temporary policy amendments have been made to the eligibility conditions for post-graduation work permits (PGWP).

The Government of Canada announced that such changes will be for students enrolled in PGWP-eligible programs in March 2020 and students who began or will begin PGWP-eligible programs between spring 2020 and fall 2021.

Key Takeaways:

  • The eligibility rules for post-graduation work permits (PGWP) in Canada have been temporarily changed.

  • Changes apply for students enrolled in PGWP-eligible programs in March 2020.

  • Students who began or will begin PGWP-eligible programs between spring 2020 and fall 2021 will also be affected by the changes.


These students must either hold a study permit, have been approved for a study permit, or file a study permit application prior to beginning their program and eventually be approved to be eligible for the temporary policy adjustments to the PGWP.

After the department receives the study permit application, time spent studying outside of Canada begins to count towards the PGWP length.

As a result, studies completed prior to the department receiving the study permit application can be deducted from the length of the PGWP.

It is worth noting that a PGWP can only be issued for a maximum of 8 months, so if a student only completes seven months of studies after applying for a study permit, they will not be eligible for a PGWP. 

Prior to beginning their studies, students need to apply for their study permits.

If the school is listed on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website as a designated learning institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 preparedness plan, international students studying online overseas may be allowed to enter Canada for in-person classes if they are traveling for a non-discretionary purpose.

Distance Learning

The Canadian government also made an announcement about distance learning.

Under normal circumstances, all distance learning courses performed outside of Canada are not counted toward the length of the post-graduation work permit, and a student’s courses must be completed in Canada and in person 50 percent of the time.

To better accommodate eligible overseas students who have completed distance learning in or outside of Canada, the following temporary policy changes have been enacted.

Students who were enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program in March 2020 or who began a program of study between spring 2020 and the fall 2021 semester are not required to complete 50 percent of their program (or programs) of study in Canada. From outside of Canada, they can finish up to 100 percent of their program online.

Time spent studying outside of Canada can be applied to the overall duration of the post-graduation work permit, which is valid until Dec. 31, 2021.

After that, any time spent studying outside of Canada shall be deducted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.

MSM Unify is your one-stop source platform that connects students, higher education institutions, and agents in Canada and worldwide. Sign up now to get the latest updates and information on international education.

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