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What is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program in Canada?

We explain how international students can gain valuable professional experience by working for up to three years after graduating through a PGWP.

Sep 13, 2023
  • Visa

What is the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

The PGWP allows international students to live and work in Canada after graduating. Depending on the length of your study program, students can stay at least eight months or three years.

Students completing a three to four-year undergraduate degree in Canada can stay to work for three years post-graduation; this compares to two years for international students in the UK via the Graduate Visa.

International STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) students in the US can work post-graduation via the OPT option for one to three years, depending on whether your

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Why is Canada a great place to work?

You can gain skills and build your employability after graduation. Many Canadian universities offer a cooperative education program, which lets you incorporate paid work experience into your study program.

What's the difference between a co-op and an internship?

The difference between a co-op and an internship is that co-ops are joint initiatives between a university, student, and employer. An internship is a joint venture between a student and their employer.

Co-ops allow students to work full-time during tenure decisions. Internships enable students to attend seminars without sacrificing their full-time employment.

Co-op students typically work full-time and take at least one semester off of full-time school. Programs can be three months or over a year long in duration.

Students may be able to alternate between semesters at school and semesters in co-ops to apply new skills and knowledge learned in class.

Who is eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

International students who hold or have been approved for a study permit may be eligible to apply for a PGWP.

  • You will need to have studied at an approved Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • After graduation, you have 180 days to apply for a PGWP
  • You don't have to be in Canada to apply for a PGWP
  • Your study program must have lasted a minimum of eight months for PGWP.

How long you can stay in Canada depends on the length of your studies; if your program were nine months, you would get nine months of PQWP; if your program lasted one year, you would have one year of PGWP.

Applicants need to ensure their passports are valid for the duration of their PGWP eligibility. Note that if you have one year left on your passport before it expires, you will be granted a permit for one year, even if you are eligible for a more extended period.

Does my work on a PGWP program need to be related to my studies?

Career paths and roles explored in a Post-Graduation Work program can be separate from what you studied; this is different from the US OTM program; graduates need to work in a field related to their studies. Another significant advantage of the PGWP is that you don't need a job offer before applying for the program.

There are no restrictions on the hours worked on a PGWP or the kind of employers you choose to work for, allowing you to explore different jobs and industries to gain a broad range of experience.

Why should I get work experience using a PGWP?

A PGWP is excellent for international students to gain work experience in Canada and enhance their CVs. Employers like international work experience; it shows you can work with people from diverse backgrounds and working practices. Plus, it's a great way to build a global professional network.

We hope we have answered your questions on the Post Graduate Work Visa in Canada and that you have been inspired to prolong your stay past your studies to enjoy Canadian life and gain valuable work experience.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.

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