December 6, 2023

From 6 April, existing postgraduate work permit holders will be able to extend their visas. In addition, aliens whose PGWP expired in 2023 and those who have already extended or were eligible to extend their visas under a similar policy announced in 2022 will be able to request an extension.

The announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at addressing Canada’s labor shortage.

“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,” said Sean Fraser, Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

“At the same time, we are providing international graduates with expiring or expired work permits with some extra time to remain in Canada to gain valuable work experience and potentially qualify for permanent residency.”

PGWP holders usually have to apply for a different type of work permit if they want to stay in the country after their visa expires.

Larissa Bezo, president and CEO of the Canadian International Education Agency, said the organization “warmly welcomes” the news.

“Today’s announcement serves to underscore Canada’s desire to retain highly skilled talent from coast to coast to coast,” she said. “Extending graduate work permits for up to 18 months creates another opportunity for our international students to make meaningful connections across our communities and gain valuable Canadian work experience.”

“We need to use every tool in our toolbox to support employers”

Philipp Reichert, director of global engagement at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, said it was a “great update” that would “help all current holders continue to work and gain experience and potentially then qualify for the various PR stream options.”

With a temporary work permit, it will also “relieve stress for a lot of them,” he said.

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

IRCC estimates that approximately 127,000 PGWPs will expire in 2023. Of these, 67,000 have already applied for permanent residency and will not need to renew their work permits through this initiative.

Eligible visa holders will receive a message from IRCC instructing them to log into their immigration account and apply.

The permit extension will give international graduates a chance to gain additional Canadian work experience that can provide a pathway to permanent residency in the country.

IRCC predicts that immigrants will soon account for 100% of the country’s labor force growth and could make up half of Canada’s total population within the next decade.

The country welcomed a record 437,000 new permanent residents in 2022, but some warned that Canada does not have the capacity for the number of international students who wish to become Canadian residents.

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