Canada extends work permits for foreign nationals who are about to lose status

Toronto, Ontario

Extension aims to help employers find and retain workers amid period of economic recovery and growth

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

The Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship gave international graduates with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permits (PGWP) additional or extended work permits to stay longer and gain additional work experience for up to 18 months.

The PGWP Program allows international graduates to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser that said that starting April 6, 2023, these measures will allow PGWP holders who wish to stay longer, to opt in to a facilitative process to extend their work permit and will allow Canada to retain high-skilled talent.

In an OMNI Filipino report, “Salve,” a Filipino international student, expressed relief about the extension, saying she will be one of those who will benefit from gaining more work experience in Canada and will have bigger chances of getting a Permanent Resident status.

“Para akong nabunutan ng tinik. Makakatulog na ako nang medyo mahimbing,” she told OMNI Filipino in an interview.

Fraser, in a press conference, cited the case of “Salve,” a Filipina architect with 10 years experience in home construction but Canada would have a risk of losing if the PGWP will not be extended.

“Without this change, the PGWP Salve benefitted from would have expired in August and we would not have been able to retain a talent in one of the sectors where it is in greatest demand in our economy,” Fraser said.

Foreign nationals whose PGWP has already expired in 2023 and those who were eligible for the 2022 PGWP facilitative measure will also have the opportunity to apply for an additional 18-month work permit, Fraser said.

Those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status, even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period, and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application, the policy also states.

Talented and skilled international graduates play a vital role in addressing Canada’s labour shortage, and those nearing the end of their PGWP are already well integrated into Canada’s labour market. The additional work permit will allow eligible applicants to continue contributing to the Canadian economy while gaining valuable work experience and preparing for the opportunity to apply for permanent residence.

“We need to use every tool in our toolbox to support employers who continue to face challenges in hiring the workers they need to grow. At the same time, we’re providing international graduates whose work permit is expiring or has expired with some additional time to stay in Canada to gain valuable work experience and potentially qualify to become a permanent resident,” Fraser said in a statement released last March 17.

PGWP holders who are eligible for the facilitative process will soon receive messages about logging into their online IRCC Secure Account, starting April 6, 2023, to opt in and update key personal information.

IRCC is aware of issues that some PGWP holders experienced with the facilitative process used in 2022. Lessons learned from that process have been applied as we implement a similar one. The new public policy will allow anyone who was eligible under the 2022 initiative to apply for an open work permit and to restore their status. Instructions on applying will be available on IRCC’s website in the weeks ahead.

International graduates are an important source of future permanent residents. Tens of thousands successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including more than 157,000 in 2021, a record high, and nearly 95,000 in 2022, the second-highest total ever.

A PGWP is typically not extendable. PGWP holders who want to extend their stay in Canada as a worker are usually expected to apply for another type of work permit as their PGWP expires. Public policies previously adopted in 2021 and 2022 provided the opportunity for an additional work permit for those with expiring PGWPs.

At the end of 2022, more than 286,000 international graduates were in Canada with a valid post-graduation work permit. About 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023, though about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and won’t need to extend their work permit through this initiative.

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