Certain expired PGWP holders will now be able to apply for a new open work permit.
Canada has released instructions for how certain Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders can apply for a new open work permit or extend the one they currently have.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser initially announced the special measure in April. Last week, the minister confirmed that a technical issue caused the delay in releasing further instructions.
The instructions are relevant to you if your PGWP expires between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022. Normally, PGWPs are a one-and-done deal. International student graduates of eligible full-time programs can get an open work permit for up to three years. However, the new measure will allow eligible PGWP holders to extend their work permit or apply for a new open work permit for an additional 18 months.
IRCC says you may not apply for this work permit at a port of entry. All work permit applications for this public policy must be submitted online by December 31, 2022.
Those who are currently in Canada will also be able to work in the interim period while their permit is being extended or a new one is being issued.
These measures will affect individual applicants in different ways. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers the following scenarios:
1. Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, your address is up to date and your passport is valid through April 2024
You don’t need to do anything. When you receive an e-mail message from IRCC to confirm your mailing address, don’t respond. An updated work permit will be issued and will be sent to your mailing address by mid-October.
2. Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but you need to update your address and/or passport validity.
IRCC will send you an e-mail message to confirm your mailing address. Follow the instructions in the e-mail to let IRCC know that your mailing address needs to be updated.
If your passport validity doesn’t allow IRCC to extend your work permit by 18 months, you will not receive this initial e-mail, but you will receive a separate e-mail in September.
If you need to update your mailing address or your passport information, you will receive instructions by e-mail in September on how to update your mailing address and passport validity in your online account. You will get a two-week window to do so. If you update this information, you will receive an updated work permit in the mail by mid-November.
To ensure you will be able to benefit, check your passport validity and apply to extend it if it expires before April 2, 2024. If you applied for your PGWP using a paper application, make sure you have linked your application to your online account.
3. Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but you won’t be able to update your address or passport validity.
You will need to apply online to extend your work permit. You could receive a work permit extended to your passport expiration date, or you could wait to apply until you have renewed your passport.
4. Your PGWP expires from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but IRCC didn’t contact you at all.
If you do not receive a message from IRCC by mid-September, you are not eligible to have your work permit extended through this special process for another reason, such as information has been added to your file about your admissibility to Canada that will need further review. You may still apply online to extend your work permit.
5. Your PGWP expired or will expire from September 20, 2021, to October 1, 2022.
IRCC says you will need to apply online for a work permit. Applications open on August 2, 2022. If you are in Canada and your temporary status has also expired, you must apply to restore your status at the same time. Under these special measures, you are allowed to restore your status, even if it expired more than 90 days ago.
You are eligible to apply from abroad if you have left Canada and return after you have been approved.
Applicants can work in the interim
IRCC will be sending email notices to PGWP holders whose documents have expired or will expire from September 20, 2021, to December 31, 2022. The email will indicate that they are allowed to work in Canada in the interim.
Those who receive the email can attach it to their PGWP to show their employer that they are authorized to work in Canada. This one-time measure is intended to ensure that those eligible for the additional 18-month work period can remain working or return to the workforce while they apply for a new work permit. This interim work period will be in effect until May 31, 2023, IRCC says.
IRCC notes that this email notice only allows the individual to work. It does not restore legal temporary resident status if the person’s status has expired. It is intended to ensure those with expired and expiring PGWPs can work while they wait for an updated or new open work permit. If you are out of status, you must apply to restore your status at the same time that you apply for a new work permit. If you are eligible, you may apply for restoration even if it has been more than 90 days since your status expired.
If you are outside Canada and have a valid temporary resident visa, it is possible to come back to Canada and be authorized to work. However, the interim work authorization email notice can’t, by itself, be used to return to Canada.
Work permits for applicants to the temporary resident to permanent resident pathways
Applicants that are part of the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR2PR) pathways whose permanent residence application has not yet been finalized can also apply for an open work permit. This measure ensures TR2PR applicants won’t lose their ability to work while they wait on a decision for their permanent residence application.
IRCC says, “Recognizing that the processing of TR to PR applications will continue for some time, those applying for an open work permit can now receive one with an end-date of December 31, 2024, provided their passport is valid through that date.”
Also, the immigration department noted that about 2,500 TR to PR applicants already received an open work permit through this measure. These work permits have an end-date of December 31, 2022, and holders will soon receive an email saying they may be able to get their work permit updated with a longer validity date.
If these workers have an updated mailing address and they are still in Canada, they do not have to do anything. An updated work permit with a validity date of December 31, 2024, may be mailed to them. They should receive it by mid-October, IRCC says.
Applicants with passports that expire before December 31, 2024, will not receive this e-mail message and will not be eligible to change the length of their current work permit through the special measure. They are still eligible to apply and seek a longer work permit, either by applying to get a work permit to match the day their passport expires, or applying after they have updated their passport.
If the individual needs to update their mailing address, or if they opt out of receiving one through this process, they will no longer be eligible for the special measure. They will need to apply online.
Why is the announcement important?
The measure is mainly intended to accommodate Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates who did not have the opportunity to apply for immigration through Express Entry since September 2021.
Following the last CEC-only draw on September 21, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) paused draws for these candidates, who are oftentimes PGWP holders, in an effort to address the backlog in immigration applications. The number of applicants in the queue had grown so much that IRCC was unable to process these applications within the six-month standard. Express Entry draws for all candidates has resumed as of July 6. After holding a second all-program draw on July 20, IRCC had invited a grand total of 1,164 CEC candidates in the month of July.
Normally, when a PGWP holder responds to an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence, they can become eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) in case their work permit expires before IRCC makes a decision on their file. The BOWP allows immigration applicants to stay in Canada after the expiry of their PGWP, or other temporary work permit, while their PR application is in processing.
If the PGWP expires while the BOWP is in processing, then the applicant can benefit from maintained status. It is important to note that maintained status only applies when you are applying as a temporary resident for another temporary residence status. It does not apply when you are going from a temporary resident to a permanent resident, hence the need for the BOWP.
IRCC is currently coming up with a plan to provide more permanent residency pathways for temporary residents. Studies have shown that immigrants with Canadian experience tend to fare better in the labour market in the initial years after landing.
Not only is it an item on the minister’s mandate letter, but a motion put forward by Randeep Sarai, the member of parliament for Surrey Centre, British Columbia, is giving Fraser has been given a deadline to come up with something. As of May 11, the minister has 120 days to develop and release a strategy to allow more temporary residents become permanent residents.
“Over the next number of months we should be able to share some clarity as to what these pathways may look like and I’m really looking for it, because I think it’s a huge opportunity for Canada,” Fraser said.