Study Abroad: Canada to review postgraduate work permit for international students

40% of study permit holders are Indian. The PGWP gives students a Canada work permit visa for the same duration as their programme, up to 3 years

Study in Canada: Changes in postgraduate work permit soon (Image : Freepik)Study in Canada: Changes in postgraduate work permit soon (Image : Freepik)

Pritha Roy Choudhury | June 18, 2024 | 04:55 PM IST

NEW DELHI: In a move that is likely to affect thousands of Indian students, the Canadian federal government has initiated consultations with provinces regarding potential and substantial changes to the postgraduate work permit (PGWP) programme. Canada's immigration minister Marc Miller made an announcement regarding the same on June 12.

The proposed changes are directed to “re-align the programme to better meet targeted labour market needs and immigration objectives,” an internal briefing document of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revealed.

The document goes on to add: “The goal of re-aligning labour market needs is to facilitate access to work permits for students entering occupations in shortage, while reducing access for graduates from other programs. This could have a significant impact on the volume of international students and PGWP holders.”

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Introduced in 2008, the PGWP allows international graduates to obtain an open work permit for a duration that matches the length of their study programme up to a maximum of three years.

It is believed that the policy is the reason for the popularity of shorter-term postgraduate diplomas and similar college programmes among the international students in Canada.

Canada Visa: PG work permit now

Recent data given in the document reveals a staggering 214% increase in PGWP participation from 2018 to 2023, and underlines its effectiveness in retaining international talent. This surge has prompted discussions within Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) about potential reforms to the PGWP policy.

The IRCC document signals a forthcoming review, possibly aiming to align the PGWP more closely with Canada's evolving immigration and economic strategies. Currently, the international student programme operates on a demand-driven basis.

As of December 31, 2023, Canada hosted over 9,30,000 international students; 40% of study permit holders in Canada are Indian.

Federal regulations mandate that provincial and territorial ministries of education have the exclusive authority to designate which institutions can enroll international students. Subsequently, IRCC processes study permits for students accepted to these designated institutions, known as designated learning institutions (DLIs), identified by the provinces and territories (PTs).

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International students intending to pursue academic, professional, or vocational training programmes lasting longer than six months must obtain a study permit. All study permit holders must be enrolled at a DLI and actively engage in their studies throughout their programme.

The document further states that qualified students have the opportunity to work both on and off-campus, as well as take part in cooperative education programmes while pursuing their studies. They must also apply for a separate co-op work permit and the work component be limited to 50% of the total programme duration.

After graduation, they can apply for PGWP which may last up to three years depending on the length of the programme.

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