Special measures to retain PGWP holders
by Michael Scott
The ongoing labour shortage in Canada has caused a rethink in Canadian immigration programs and policies. If the country is to recover from the COVID pandemic, it is important for Canada to attract and retain new immigrants.
An example of the changes prompted by the shortage is the move by immigration authorities to enhance ways to accommodate Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders whose permits are expiring. In the past, it was not possible to apply for an extension to the PGWP, which was given based on the length of time the applicant had studied inside Canada. Normally the permits are one-time-only issuances where international student graduates of eligible full-time programs can get an open work permit for up to three years. It is now possible for permit holders to apply for a new work permit or extend the one they currently have.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced special measures in April to address the issues related to expiring PGWP permit holders. Just last week, the minister confirmed that technical issues were causing a delay in the implementation of the special measures. The measures are relevant to permit holders whose existing PGWPs are set to expire between September 20, 2021 and December 31, 2022. The new measure will allow eligible PGWP holders to extend their work permit or apply for a new work permit for an additional 18 months.
IRCC does not permit applicants to apply for the PGWP at a port of entry. Rather, all applications must be submitted online by December 31, 2022. Applicants who are currently inside the country will also be allowed to work during the interim period when their permits are being extended or a new one is being issued.
The new measures will affect different applicants in differing ways. Consider the following applicant situations:
1. You hold a PGWP set to expire from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022,
and have a valid address inside Canada and a passport that is valid through April 2024, then:
You are advised to wait for notification from IRCC. You will receive an e-mail request to confirm your mailing address. If there are no changes then you can wait for IRCC to issue an updated work permit by mid-October;
2. You hold a PGWP set to expire from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022,
but you need to update (change) your address and/or passport validity, then:
IRCC will send you an e-mail message to confirm your mailing address and you must follow instructions to let IRCC know that your address must be updated.
If your passport validity doesn’t allow IRCC to extend your work permit, you will receive a separate e-mail request in September. You will be given instructions on how to respond. Check the current validity of your passport to apply for an extension if it expires before April 2, 2024, in order to prepare for the passport request;
3. You hold a PGWP set to expire between October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022,
but you are not able to update your address or passport validity, then:
You will need to apply online to extend your work permit. You could receive a work permit extended to your passport expiration date, or you could wait until you have renewed your passport;
4. You hold a PGWP set to expire from October 2, 2022, to December 31, 2022, but IRCC did not contact you, then:
If you have not received a message from IRCC by mid-September, you are not eligible for the special measure. There may be issues related to your admissibility to Canada that need further review. You have the option to applying online for your work permit under the current changes;
5. You hold a PGWP that has expired or will expire from September 20, 2021, to October 1, 2022, then:
You can apply online for a work permit. Note that applications for open work permits opened on August 2, 2022. If you are in Canada, you must also apply for restoration of your status at the same time. Under the current circumstances applicants are allowed to restore their status, even if it expired over 90 days ago.
Applicants can work in the interim
It is possible for applicants to work in the interim. IRCC will be sending email notices to PGWP holders whose documents have expired or are set to expire from September 20, 2021, to December 31, 2022. The e-mail will confirm that the applicants are allowed to work in Canada in the interim. You should attach this notification and explanation with your applications for work permits or extensions but do not neglect to pay the restoration fee if it applies to you.
Changes impact applicants
The changes also impact on applicants who have applied for the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident (TR2PR) pathway whose applications are not yet finalized. They can also apply for an open work permit to ensure that they do not lose their permission to work while they await a decision on their permanent residence application. It is important that the applicants also have passports that will expire on December 31, 2022 and beyond. Otherwise, they can apply for an extension to the existing expiration date or applying after they have updated the passports.
It is important to note that IRCC is doing what it can to retain foreign student graduates beyond the normal dates of their PGWP issuance. It is a recognition that the country needs a continuing supply of the brightest and the best from round the world, especially those who have already made a commitment and a contribution to the Canadian economy. Immigration can and should work for the benefit of the country and we can applaud the Minister and his staff for their creative solutions to keep PGWP holders in Canada.
Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: email@example.com.