Post-Graduation Work Permits

Many international students who have completed their studies in Canada will be eligible for an open work permit called a post-graduation work permit. This work permit allows foreign nationals to gain Canadian work experience, and may in turn help a foreign national qualify for permanent residence in Canada.

To qualify for a post-graduation work permit, a foreign national must demonstrate that they:

  • Graduated from a participating post-secondary institution in Canada;
  • Have been issued a document from the Canadian institution confirming that they have completed and passed all program requirements;
  • Studied continuously and full-time in Canada in a program that is at minimum eight months in duration;
  • Have applied for their work permit within 180 days from the day their final marks are issued or the day they receive formal written notification of program completion, whichever comes first; 
  • Are at least 18 years of age; and
  • Have a valid study permit at the time of application.

Prior to applying for the post-graduation work permit, a foreign national must ensure that their program of study is eligible. A foreign national must have completed a program of study from:

  • A public post-secondary school – such as a college, trade or technical school or a university;
  • A private post-secondary school that operates under the same regulations as a public school;
  • A private secondary or post-secondary school in the province of Quebec that offers programs that will lead to a DEP or ASP, provided that the programs are a minimum of 900 hours; or
  • A private post-secondary school that can legally award degrees under provincial law and that program is authorized by the province.

A post-graduation work permit will be issued for the length of the foreign national’s program, up to a maximum of three years:

  • If the program was between eight months but less than two years in length – the work permit will be issued for the length of the program;
  • If the program was two years or more in length – the work permit will be issued for three years.

If the program of study was less than eight months in length, a foreign national is not eligible for a post-graduation work permit.

In addition, a foreign national is only eligible for one post-graduation work permit. If a foreign national completes one program and is issued a post-graduation work permit, and then subsequently returns to study, they will not be issued a new post-graduation work permit once they complete their second program.