Exploring Options for PGWP Holders in the Express Entry Program

Canada has been a sought-after destination for international students, offering excellent education and post-graduation opportunities. However, recent developments by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have left Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders concerned about their future.

The End of PGWP Extensions

On December 7, IRCC made a significant announcement confirming that no additional extensions would be offered to PGWP holders. This decision comes as a result of the labor market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and during the subsequent recovery period. It allowed PGWP holders to continue working in Canada while IRCC faced processing delays and paused Express Entry draws.Express Entry is a popular pathway for PGWP holders seeking permanent resident status in Canada. However, with the cessation of extensions, candidates in the Express Entry pool face uncertainty. Those who have not yet received an Invitation to Apply (ITA) and have an expiring PGWP may lose their eligibility to work in Canada. The recent pause in Express Entry draws only adds to the pressure, as candidates without an ITA cannot apply for permanent resident status or maintain their status during application processing.

Options for PGWP Holders:

While waiting for a final decision on their application, Express Entry candidates with expiring PGWPs have a few options to stay in Canada:

  1. Visitor Record:
    Candidates can apply for a visitor record at least 30 days before their PGWP expires. A visitor record typically grants a stay of six months, though individual cases may vary.
  2. Apply for Another Work Permit:
    Candidates can explore the possibility of applying for a new work permit while waiting for an Express Entry draw. This may involve additional time and cost, but it allows candidates to continue working. They can consider an Open Work Permit or explore options for a different type of work permit, such as a closed work permit obtained through an employer’s Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  3. Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP):
    If a candidate has already submitted their application for permanent residence but has not received a final decision, they may be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP). This permit allows them to work in Canada while awaiting IRCC’s decision. BOWPs apply to candidates who have applied through economic immigration programs like Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Quebec Skilled Workers, or the Agri-Food Pilot Program.

While the discontinuation of PGWP extensions may cause concern among Express Entry candidates, there are still viable alternatives to maintain legal status in Canada. PGWP holders should proactively explore these options. Additionally, staying up-to-date with IRCC announcements and changes in immigration policies will be crucial for a smooth transition and a successful application for permanent resident status in Canada.Understand and evaluate your profile and chances through authorised ICCRC-registered immigration consultants. For more information, reach out to Novus Immigration Services. Licensed as the Regulated Canadian Immigration Law and Consultant Firm by the Bar Council of British Columbia, Canada. Discover more about Canadian Experience Class, Express Entry, PNP, Permanent Residence, and the document checklist.