Starting April 6, current post-graduate work permit holders will be able to opt into extending their visas. Additionally, foreign nationals whose PGWP expired in 2023 and those who already extended or were eligible to extend their visas under a similar policy announced in 2022 will be able to apply for an extension.
The announcement is the latest in a series of policy developments aimed at tackling Canada’s labour shortages.
“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,” said Sean Fraser, minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
“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.”
Normally, PGWP holders need to apply for a different type of work permit if they wish to remain in the country after their visa expires.
Larissa Bezo, president and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, said the organisation ‘warmly welcomes’ the news.
“Today’s announcement serves to underscore Canada’s desire to retain high-skilled talent from coast to coast to coast,” she said. “The extension of post-graduate work permits for up to 18 months creates further opportunity for our international students to establish meaningful connections across our communities and to gain valuable Canadian work experience.”
“We need to use every tool in our toolbox to support employers”
Philipp Reichert, director of global engagement at University of British Columbia Okanagan, said it is a “great update” that will “help many current holders continue to work and gain experience and potentially then qualify for the various PR stream options”.
It also “relieves a lot of stress for many of them with the interim work authorisation”, he said.
Universities Canada also said it was pleased by the announcement.
“This change reflects the essential role of international university graduates in securing Canada’s future growth, by filling critical labour shortages and enriching our communities,” a spokesperson told The PIE.
“In a global competition for people and ideas, Canada must take measures such as this to attract and retain international talent and secure a prosperous future.”
At the end of 2022, there were more than 286,000 international graduates in Canada with a valid post-graduation work permit.
IRCC estimates that approximately 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023. Of these, 67,000 have already applied for permanent residence and will not need to extend their work permit through this initiative.
Eligible visa holders will receive a message from IRCC instructing them to log into their immigration account and opt in.
Extending permits will give international graduates the chance to gain additional Canadian work experience, which can provide a pathway to permanent residency in the country.
IRCC predicts that immigrants will soon represent 100% of the growth of the country’s labour force and that they could make up half of Canada’s total population within the next decade.
The country accepted a record 437,000 new permanent residents in 2022, but some have warned that Canada does not have the capacity for the number of international students who want to become Canadian residents.