Ottawa to extend by up to 18 months expired, soon-to-expire post-graduation skilled worker permits

By Cristin Schmitz

Law360 Canada (March 17, 2023, 4:12 PM EDT) -- Citing Canada’s skilled worker shortage, Ottawa has announced that foreign nationals with a recently expired or expiring post-graduation work permit will qualify for an additional or extended work permit to stay longer and gain more work experience for up to 18 months.

In a March 17 press release, the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced measures, starting April 6, 2023, to allow post-graduate work permit holders who wish to stay in Canada longer to “opt into a facilitative process to extend their work permit.”

IRCC said foreign nationals whose post-graduate work permit (PGWP) has already expired in 2023, and those who were eligible for the “2022 PGWP facilitative measure,” will have the opportunity to apply for an additional 18-month work permit. 

The department said those with expired work permits will be able to restore their status — even if they are beyond the 90-day restoration period — and will receive an interim work authorization while awaiting processing of their new work permit application.

PGWP holders who are eligible for the facilitative process “will soon receive messages about logging into their online IRCC Secure Account, starting April 6, 2023, to opt in and update key personal information,” the government said.

IRCC acknowledged “issues,” i.e. problems, that some PGWP holders experienced with the facilitative process the department used in 2022. 

“Lessons learned from that process have been applied as we implement a similar one,” IRCC said. “The new public policy will allow anyone who was eligible under the 2022 initiative to apply for an open work permit and to restore their status. Instructions on applying will be available on IRCC’s website in the weeks ahead.”

Post-graduate work permits are not usually extendable but in 2021 and 2022 new policies gave the opportunity for an additional work permit to those with expiring permits.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

“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,” Immigration Minister Sean Fraser explained in a statement. “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.”

At the end of 2022, more than 286,000 international graduates were in Canada with a valid post-graduation work permit.

IRCC said that about 127,000 PGWPs expire in 2023, although about 67,000 PGWP holders have already applied for permanent residence and won’t need to extend their work permit through this PGWP extension initiative.

The government noted tens of thousands of international graduates successfully transition to permanent residence each year, including more than 157,000 in the 2021 record year and almost 95,000 in 2022, the second-highest number ever.

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