On March 17 IRCC announced a new public policy that allows existing Post-Graduate Work Permit holders (PGWP) with valid or recently expired permits to apply for an extension that can be valid for an additional 18 months. The policy rationale is driven by Canada’s need to fill gaps in its labour market, especially for workers in the health and construction industries.

Normally, PGWPs are non-renewable. During COVID-19, the government allowed extensions to PGWP holders for the first time. Building on the success of that program and Canada’s sharp labour market needs, the government has now decided to allow PGWP holders to once again extend their work permits.

The new policy is both facilitative and expansive. PGWP holders whose permits expired in 2023 and who were eligible for the 2022 extension can still apply for renewal under the new policy. Moreover, even individuals who are past the 90-day Restoration period are allowed to apply for an extension. IRCC’s guidance suggests that individuals who availed themselves of the 2022 extension can once again apply for this new extension.

Individuals can extend for another 18 months or up to the date of their passport expiry, so it’s important to make sure passports have enough validity to take advantage of the 18 month opportunity.

Renewal applications under this public policy take effect as of April 6, 2023.

The extension opportunity under this public policy is of high value for many foreign students in Canada, as it allows them to continue to accumulate skilled work experience that translates into higher points for their immigration applications.

Critics of the program note that adding so much processing resources to foreign students in Canada has the negative effect of taking resources away for the processing of Skilled Worker applicants who are still overseas. That said, the government has decided that an individual who is already in Canada, who has earned a Canadian educational certificate or degree, and, in most cases, who has already accumulated work experience in Canada is a higher priority than a skilled worker who is still living and working overseas.

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