Canada Introduces New Measures on PGWP Eligibility for Students Studying Online

In a bid to support and encourage international students during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has implemented several measures to enhance their experience and opportunities. One significant move, announced on February 12, 2021, focuses on post-graduation work permit (PGWP) eligibility, allowing students who complete their entire program online from abroad to remain eligible. These measures are part of Canada’s broader commitment to international education, acknowledging the substantial contributions of international students, who contribute over $21 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

Previous Initiatives:

The Canadian government has consistently demonstrated its dedication to the welfare of international students. Prior to the recent announcement, measures included allowing students to study online from their home countries until April 30, 2021, without affecting future PGWP eligibility, provided at least 50% of their courses were completed in Canada. Additionally, open work permits were offered to former international students holding or having held a PGWP.

New IRCC Measures:

Recently, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced further measures to ensure that international students do not miss out on opportunities post-graduation due to the ongoing pandemic. These measures allow students to complete their Canadian study programs online from abroad and still qualify for a PGWP. This flexibility acknowledges the challenges presented by the pandemic while safeguarding the future prospects of international students.

Eligibility Criteria for PGWP:

The new measures apply to international students enrolled in PGWP-eligible programs. To qualify, students must:

  1. Be enrolled in a PGWP-eligible program.
  2. Have started or will start a study program in any semester from spring 2020 to fall 2021, or have a study program already in progress in March 2020.
  3. Possess a study permit or have applied for a study permit before starting their study program, with approval at the time.
  4. Meet all other PGWP criteria.

High Demand for PGWP:

The PGWP is highly sought after among international students, granting them the right to work in Canada for a maximum duration of three years after completing an eligible academic program at a designated learning institution.

Words from the Minister:

The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, emphasized the significance of the new policy. He stated, “This new policy means that students hoping to work in Canada after graduation won’t miss out on opportunities while ensuring that our economy and society continue to benefit from all that international students bring.” Mendicino conveyed a clear message to international students and graduates, encouraging them not only to study in Canada but to consider making it their home.

Changes in Permanent Residency Rules:

Recognizing the valuable contributions of international students, the Canadian government has also made efforts to facilitate their path to permanent residency (PR). With strong employment and language skills, bolstered by their Canadian education and work experience, international students are well-positioned to apply for PR status. Canada has recently invited approximately 27,300 workers for PR, aiming to create more opportunities for skilled workers and boost the economy.


Canada’s commitment to international students is evident through these progressive measures, ensuring that their educational journey and post-graduation prospects remain robust despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic. As Canada continues to prioritize the contributions of international students, the nation stands as an attractive destination not just for education but also for building a promising future.

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