What to Know About the Extended Work Authorization Letters for International Graduates in Canada?

What to Know About the Extended Work Authorization Letters for International Graduates in Canada?

For international graduates in Canada, securing a work permit is crucial to gaining valuable professional experience and building a career. In certain situations, these graduates may receive an extended work authorization letter, also known as an interim work permit, allowing them to continue working while their work permit application is being processed. This interim work letter serves as a temporary solution, granting legal employment authorization during the transition period.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of retaining international talent and has implemented measures to facilitate the work permit application process. This article will delve into the concept of interim work authorization, its eligibility criteria, and the procedures to follow after 180 days. Additionally, it will highlight the key benefits of this extension for international graduates, empowering them to navigate the Canadian job market seamlessly.

What is interim work authorization in Canada?

The Canadian government has extended the validity period of interim work authorization letters for international graduates from 120 days to 180 days, starting from the date of application submission. This extension is part of a policy update to assist international graduates and provide them with greater flexibility while waiting for decisions on their work permit applications.

Key points about interim work authorization letters:

  • Holders can continue to work in Canada even after temporarily leaving the country, though re-entry may require a valid temporary resident visa.
  • These letters do not allow for international travel, and graduates may need a valid temporary resident visa to re-enter Canada.

The extension aims to support international graduates by:

  • Providing a longer window to work legally while their work permit is being processed.
  • Offering increased flexibility to manage their affairs, including potential short trips outside Canada.
  • Allowing them to maintain employment and income during the transition period.

By extending the validity of interim work authorization letters, the Canadian government acknowledges the valuable contributions of international graduates and aims to facilitate their integration into the workforce.

Eligibility Criteria for PGWP

To be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada, international students must meet the following criteria:

  • Apply within 180 days of graduating from a designated learning institution (DLI) program that is at least 8 months long.
  • Have held a valid study permit at some point during those 180 days and maintained full-time student status during their studies, with some exceptions.

International graduates outside of Canada can also apply for the PGWP if they have been approved for a study permit and meet the program requirements.

Certain programs, such as English/French as a second language, general interest courses, and distance learning programs, do not qualify for the PGWP. Additionally, starting in September 2024, international students who begin a study program that is part of a curriculum licensing agreement will no longer be eligible for a PGWP after graduating.

Other key eligibility requirements include:

  • Having a social insurance number (SIN)
  • Completing studies in an academic, vocational, or professional training program that is at least 8 months long (or 900 hours for certain Quebec programs) at an eligible DLI
  • Maintaining full-time student status during the program

It's important to note that IRCC has announced that graduates of master's and other short graduate-level programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year PGWP, up from the current criteria.

Benefits of Extension

The extension of interim work authorization letters from 120 days to 180 days offers several benefits for international graduates in Canada:

Increased Flexibility and Job Security: The longer validity period provides international graduates with greater flexibility and job security during the transition period. It allows them to maintain their employment and income while awaiting a decision on their work permit application, reducing potential financial strain and career disruptions. 

Ability to Manage Affairs and Travel: With the extended duration, international graduates have more time to manage personal affairs, such as:

  • Short trips outside Canada for family emergencies or personal reasons, without jeopardizing their employment status upon re-entry (provided they hold a valid temporary resident visa).Addressing any additional documentation or requirements related to their work permit application process.
  • Smoother Transition and Career Continuity: The extension aims to facilitate a smoother transition for international graduates, enabling them to continue their professional development and career progression without significant interruptions. This continuity can be beneficial for both the graduates and their employers, fostering talent retention and minimizing disruptions in the workforce. 
  • Increased Competitiveness in the Job Market: By providing a longer window of legal employment authorization, international graduates can enhance their competitiveness in the Canadian job market. They can gain valuable work experience, build professional networks, and demonstrate their skills and commitment to potential employers, increasing their chances of securing long-term employment opportunities.
  • Support for Integration and Retention of Talent: The extension reflects the Canadian government's recognition of the valuable contributions made by international graduates and their importance in addressing labor market needs. It aligns with broader efforts to attract and retain skilled talent, supporting the integration of international graduates into the Canadian workforce and economy. 

Procedures after 180 Days

If a decision on the work authorization letter application is delayed beyond the 180-day mark, applicants are advised to request continued proof of authorization to work from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRCC) through their webform. This webform allows international graduates to request an extension of their legal employment status while theirwork permit application is still being processed.

To apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), graduates need to provide the following documentation:

1. Proof of completing their studies, such as:

  • Degree/diploma
  • Official letter from their school
  • Transcript 

2. Payment of required fees:

  • Processing fees
  • Biometrics fees

If the PGWP has job restrictions due to not having a medical exam, graduates can take the following steps to have the restrictions removed:

  • Get a medical exam
  • Apply for an openwork permit in Canada

This process allows international graduates to obtain unrestricted work authorization, enabling them to pursue employment opportunities more freely within Canada.

Important Key points to Remember!

For international graduates navigating the work permit application process in Canada, it's crucial to keep the following key points in mind:

1. Timely Application Submission: Ensure you apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) within 180 days of completing your studies at a designated learning institution (DLI). Failing to meet this deadline may result in ineligibility for the PGWP.

2. Maintain Legal Status: During the interim period while your work permit application is being processed, it's essential to maintain legal status in Canada. This means complying with the conditions of your study permit or interim work authorization letter. Any violation could jeopardize your application or future immigration prospects.

3. Document Preparedness: Gather all required documents well in advance, such as:Having these documents ready can help expedite the application process and avoid unnecessary delays.

  • Proof of graduation (degree, diploma, official letter, or transcript)
  • Biometrics and processing fee payments 
  • Medical examination results (if required) 

4. Communication with IRCC: Maintain open communication with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) throughout the application process. If your application is delayed beyond 180 days, promptly request continued proof of work authorization through the designated webform.

5. Travel Considerations: While holding an interim work authorization letter, be mindful of travel plans. These letters do not permit international travel, and you may require a valid temporary resident visa to re-enter Canada after leaving the country. 

6. Future Updates: Stay informed about any policy changes or updates related to work permits and immigration regulations. The Canadian government periodically reviews and adjusts its policies to better support international graduates and address labor market needs. 

By keeping these key points in mind, international graduates can navigate the work permit application process more effectively, ensuring compliance with regulations and maximizing their chances of a successful transition into the Canadian workforce.

 

FAQs

What are the updated regulations for international students in Canada for the year 2024?

In January 2024, the Canadian government introduced a temporary cap on the issuance of study permits for a two-year period. This cap restricts the number of study permits, also known as Canadian student visas, to approximately 360,000 for the year 2024.

Will Canada continue to extend work permits for international student graduates?

The Canadian government has stated that the facilitative measure allowing extensions of Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) will not be extended beyond its current terms. This means that individuals can only obtain one PGWP in their lifetime. Those with a PGWP expiring in 2024 who wish to continue working in Canada must apply for a different type of work permit for which they qualify.

What are the changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program in 2024?

Effective from February 15, 2024, graduates from master's degree programs that are less than 2 years in length (with a minimum duration of 8 months) may be eligible for a 3-year PGWP. The validity of the PGWP is contingent on the level and length of the completed study program, as well as the expiration date of the graduate's passport, with the earlier date prevailing.

Are international students allowed to work over 40 hours per week in Canada in 2024?

Yes, international students are permitted to work more than 40 hours per week in Canada, provided their work permit does not restrict their working hours. However, certain conditions may apply, such as job opportunities on campus which might be exclusively available to full-time students.