PGWP Applicants Must Now Provide Authorized Leave Documentation

by Ronalee Carey Law

January 2022

On January 10, 2022, IRCC published a program delivery update affecting those applying for a post-graduation work permit.  The instructions for IRCC staff  now state the following:

If the applicant took a period of leave that was authorized by their DLI at any time during their studies, they must include documentation proving the leave was authorized by the DLI with their application.

These new instructions to immigration officers are highly problematic for two reasons: 

  • They ignore the Federal Court decision Munyanyi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2021 FC 802. In that decision, a refusal of a PGWP was found to be unreasonable. The applicant was a student at a university that did not require its undergraduate students to request an authorized leave to take a semester off.  The Federal Court chided the immigration officer for not considering this when refusing the PGWP application for lack of documentation that the leave was authorized.   

IRCC must mandate that Canadian post-secondary institutions offering programs to international students have a formal policy regarding authorized leaves.  Until they do so, they should not be denying PGWPs to students who do not have documentation from their designated learning institution. 

  • IRCC has not updated the information on its website meant to be read by international students. The webpage Study in Canada as an international student has no information about complying with the terms of study permits. One must consult the webpage Work in Canada after you graduate: Who can apply to find out that taking an unauthorized leave from studies can result in ineligibility for a PGWP.  International students would not read this webpage until after graduation.  By then, it would be too late, as they cannot request a letter from their school retroactively.  Consider the student experiencing mental health issues and dropping their semester’s courses rather than having failures in their transcript.  This student would be considered to have taken an unauthorized leave.  According to the new instructions, they would be granted no mercy from IRCC.

Further, and most problematic, the instruction guide for PGWP applicants makes no mention of a requirement to provide documentation concerning an authorized leave.  Regarding documents to be included with the application, it refers to the Document Checklist.  This checklist is similarly silent:

 

Post Graduation Work Permit Applications Must Also Include the Following. Document stating you have completed all of the requirements for your programs of study. This must include: Checkbox A final transcript, and Checkbox A letter from the institution and/or the formal notice of graduation. NOTE: if you have completed more than one program, please upload the transcript and the letter from the institution of your choice in the appropriate fields. The other transcripts/letters of completion must be submitted in the additional documents field. Checkbox Proof of Payment.  NOTE: When applying to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, you must pay a CDN $100.00 open work permit holder fee in addition to the $155.00 work permit processing fee.

 

IRCC is instructing its officers to reject PGWP applications when documentation about an authorized leave is missing despite the instructions to applicants and document checklist making no mention of the requirement to provide this documentation.  Certainly, this will come before the Federal Court again. 

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