Recent Experiences with PGWP Problems (Updated – 15 September 2016)

One thing I have noticed recently in my practice is the number of individuals who are having challenges with Post-Graduate Work Permits, more specifically the period of time between which they complete their final academic session and the time in which they receive their post-graduate work permit (PGWP).

The period in which an international student holds a PGWP is the most crucial period in their ambition to become a economic permanent resident. As I have discussed in several prior posts, the PGWP provides the student the opportunity (albeit often challenging to obtain) to get the one-year of skilled work experience that can set them up for the Express Entry process.

Problems 1: Late/Mistimed Application

An increasing problem I am seeing is that individuals are applying too late for their post-graduate work permit. A post-graduate work permit must be submitted with 90 days from meeting the requirements of completing the program of study. This DOES NOT always mean (and usually does not mean) the actual date of your graduation. Most programs (and inquiries should be made with your institution if this is not the case) issue letters or notices indicating that you have completed your requirements and are now eligible for graduation. This is the date the clock starts ticking.

For many individuals their study permits may extend beyond the period of their full-time studies. This can also be very deceiving for an individual preparing to apply for a PGWP. Since June 2014, the new study permit requirements have created an oft-confusing provision that allows you to work full-time during regularly scheduled breaks (i.e. summer/winter/spring vacations) as long as you maintain full-time status as a student. Importantly, this DOES NOT cover the summer after you graduate UNLESS you have a pending application for a PGWP.

Right now PGWP Applications (submitted online) are also taking several months. CIC does not specifically post processing times for PGWP but from several individuals, I have heard this has taken up to 4-5 months. If the PGWP Application is made before the study permit expires, this will give the Applicant the ability to work (accordingly to the terms of their study permit, until a decision is made on their PGWP. While this is all good, the waiting period can be particularly challenging on students who had accompanying spouses who had their open work permits tied to the PGWP applicant’s  expiring study permits. There is no implied status for the accompanying spouse and their own ability to receive a further open work permit  will be tied to the PGWP Applicant receiving their PGWP and demonstrating their employment in a NOC 0, A, B position.

Resultantly, Individuals who have the ability to apply for a work permit at the port of entry and/or flagpole are strongly advised to look into the option and seek advise from competent counsel prior to attempting to make the application. The process, if done properly, could save several months of worry. I recommend reading my colleague Steven Meurren’s excellent piece on flagpoling and its potential risks here.

Problem 2: Poorly-Prepared Application

The challenge with PGWP is that they are a “one shot deal.” Whereas a refusal for a temporary-resident visa or initial study permit can often be addressed through a new application, which may cost an Applicant a few months or a semester of wait time, a failed PGWP Application can possibly alter by several years, a potential foreign students plans in Canada.

For example,  let us assume an Applicant is informed in May 2016 that their program is completed. That Applicant  duly submits an online Application for a PGWP right away. Their study permit expires in July. Should they receive a refusal in September 2016, they will now be out of the range to apply for a PGWP (more than 90 days). Furthermore, they will be ineligible as they no longer hold a valid study permit. The Applicant’s restoration of temporary resident status would only be possible on the basis of a study permit extension (which will require a new acceptance) or switching to visitor status.

Again, I think this is a major gap/flaw in the way the PGWP program currently operates but it gives way to possible strategies (that I have not yet myself explored) that may be employed to try and mitigate the situation.  The way the rules currently operate, I am advising most of my clients to have a “back up plan” ready (i.e. further studies or other work permit options) in the event something goes array with the PGWP Application.

Please note the recent decision in Nookala v. Canada (MCI) 2016 FC 1019  where Madam Justice Mactavish explicitly rejects the strategy of restoring to a study permit for the purposes of obtaining a new post-graduate work permit where no program of study has been entered into at the time of restoration.

Generally speaking the PGWP Application is quite straight forward, and CIC does give further information requests to facilitate this process. However, I can certainly foresee with the new study permit regulation’s greater scrutiny of work and study during the validity of study permits, more PGWP refusals down the road. PGWP Applicants would be wise do double and triple check that all fees, documents, and especially dates before submitting their Application.

12 thoughts on “Recent Experiences with PGWP Problems (Updated – 15 September 2016)”

  1. Hi,
    A couple of my friends are exactly in the situation you mentioned about the gap in the PGWP application. they received the letter of course completion 2 days after their study permit expired. They applied to restore their status and at the same time applied for the PGWP. Their PGWP application was rejected and they are asked to leave canada immediately. Could you suggest any solution to this problem? My take on this is, even though say there was a mistake in the application, a graduate from an eligible canadian university should have the opportunity to explain the problem and fix his mistake. CIC took more than 4 months to process the application which makes the applicant ineligible to apply/explain or do anything more about his/her status.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Nikhil,

      Can you provide more details about their application. Maybe there was a mistake in the application. I am in the same situation (applied Sept24th) where I applied for status restoration and PGWP. But from talking to other people it seems like they have gotten their status restored. Did they provide a letter of explanation?

      1. Hi Hamza:

        Please contact me if you need assistance

        The truth of the matter is CIC’s guidelines aren’t clear (and contradictory). It appears the correct steps will involve restoring status to student status and then attaching a new WP application with substantive legal submissions.


  2. How can a restoration to student status be possible, when one has graduated and not admitted into a new institution where s/he will take courses? The restoration of status form requires you to provide letter of admission and other things, so how does one avoid being charged for MISREPRESENTATION?

  3. If you must have a valid study permit to apply for a pgwp,how will a student whose study permit got expired while the pgwp was being processed,apply for restoration /pgwp,when the study permit is no more valid due to the delay in processing the original application? And why not tell the client upfront that the restoration will not be granted instead of wasting time and money?

    1. Hi Charles:

      I completely agree with you. The issue is that the restoration and the pgwp guidelines don’t take into account each other. There’s not a facilitative way to properly submit a restoration to student with a work permit and showing a letter of enrollment when a student’s classes are already completed.

  4. Hello. what is the likeliood of the government finding out i worked more than 20 hours per week? During the summer i heard international students could now work with their visas, i got a job and have been working 30 hours per week. Its a proper job btw, so i get a t4 and cra has my records. Only for me to find out a few days ago that i am actually restricted to 20 hours. Would they find out when i am applying for pgwp? I am a full time international student by the way. Please i am desperate for answers as i didnt want to go against rules.

  5. Hi, i want to study in Nursing in canada and wanted to know when my PGWP is rejected can apply for another student visa and continue to further my studies.?

    1. Hi Thomas,

      For those have rejected PGWPs or if your school is not eligible – we have been restoring/extending several students to continue studies so yes. Common.

  6. Hi , i have gap of 4 months in my continuous study only for one subject, my college didn’t gave us one subject in april and have to complete that specific subject in September so just want to know that this gap of 4 months for one subject can effect my post graduation work permit.

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