If you’re one of the students affected by COVID-19 and studying remotely, and not sure if you’d be eligible for the PGWP, you’re not alone.
Thousands of students have been studying remotely from their home countries, while studying with their respective programs in Canadian colleges and universities. Many have enrolled in a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) eligible program and have been asking if their study period outside Canada, due to travel restrictions, would still count toward their PGWP.
Objectives of the Temporary Public Policy
This temporary public policy aims to:
- allow eligible PGWP holders and former PGWP holders, including those who changed their status to visitor or fell out of status, to apply from inside Canada for an open work permit for a period of up to 18 months or until the expiry of the applicant’s passport, whichever is shorter; and
- exempt eligible foreign nationals from the requirement that a work permit not be issued if they have not complied with certain temporary resident conditions or work permit criteria.
General Requirements for PGWP
As a rule, students will only be able to qualify for PGWP if:
- have a valid study permit,
- have been approved for a study permit by virtue of being accepted into a program with a DLI, and
- submit a study permit application prior to beginning their program and eventually be approved.
It is important to note that the time spent studying while being outside of Canada can only be counted towards PGWP duration after the IRCC receives the study permit application. The PGWP is issued for a minimum period of 8 months, based on the duration of the program a student has enrolled in, which again should be of a minimum 8-month duration.
The general eligibility requirements of PGWP remain the same as before.
Studying while outside Canada
Under normal circumstances, distance learning courses are not eligible for PGWP. For all other courses, at least 50% of the course must be completed in person while being in Canada. However due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions the IRCC has made temporary policy changes exempting students from this rule.
Exemptions for International Students during COVID
To be eligible for this exemption, students should either:
- be enrolled in a PGWP-eligible programs in progress in March 2020, or
- have begun or will begin PGWP-eligible programs between spring 2020 and fall 2021.
Thus, students who meet the above exemptions will not be required to meet the 50% distance learning rule; instead, up to 100% of their programs can be completed from outside Canada. But there’s a catch. Any time spent studying from outside Canada may be counted towards the overall length of the post-graduation work permit until December 31, 2021. If the student continues to study from outside Canada beyond this date, will be deducted from the length of the post-graduation work permit.
Students enrolled in multiple programs
Students enrolled in multiple programs that are eligible for PGWP may be able to:
- complete 100% of their programs from outside of Canada (if both programs were either in progress in March 2020 or began between spring 2020 and fall 2021), and
- combine the length of their programs of study when applying for a PGWP in the future.
Again, each course must be longer than 8 months in duration to be eligible for the PGWP.
Part-time or course cancellations due to COVID
Several numbers of students enrolled in a PGWP eligible course prior to the pandemic have been affected by the restrictions to classroom limits or course cancellations. As such they would have become part-time students due to no fault of their own. This policy maintains that if they were enrolled in the winter, spring, and summer 2020 semesters at a DLI, their eligibility towards a PGWP will not be impacted. They will be able to maintain their status as full-time students as it was the case when they enrolled in the program, for PGWP eligibility purposes.
What you need to apply for PGWP
As most schools are either closed or have restricted access, international students may face difficulties in obtaining a letter of completion or final transcripts from the DLI.
To address this situation, this temporary policy facilities PGWP applicants who fall under the abovementioned criteria to submit their application without a letter of competition or final transcript. The IRCC officer will require this information later when the application is being processed. Students will have sufficient time to apply for and receive these documents.
Students applying to restore their status can also apply without a letter of completion or final transcript.
Want to learn more about PGWP and how to apply? Speak with us today.