Reprieve for International Students Whose PGWPs are Expiring: 18 Month Extensions will be Granted

by Ronalee Carey Law

 April 2022

Today, IRCC announced that it plans to grant 18-month extensions for post-graduation work permits that expire in 2022. This announcement will be welcome news for international graduates who have been anxiously awaiting news of a program to help them stay in Canada while waiting to apply for permanent residence.

Extension applications can be submitted as of ‘summer 2022.’  According to the announcement, the temporary policy will be available to those ‘in Canada.’  It is not clear if those students whose PGWP permits have already expired and who have left Canada will be able to apply. 

Until clarification is provided, we must presume anyone whose PGWP has or will expire before they can submit a PGWP extension application should apply to remain in Canada as a visitor. A restoration application will be needed for anyone whose PGWP is expired when they submit their application for a Visitor Record. Restoration applications are available for 90 days after the PGWP expires. Anyone who is past the 90-days must leave Canada and re-enter as a visitor, applying first for an eTA or visitor visa if required.

Those with visitor status in Canada will not benefit from maintained status and will only be able to start working once they have their new PGWP. Those who will apply for their new PGWP before their current PGWP expires will have maintained status and will be able to continue working so long as they remain in the country until they receive their new PGWP.

The announcement also states that Express Entry draws will resume in ‘early July.’  The announcement refers only to ‘invitations’; presumably, they will be for all programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades program. From December 2020 to September 2021, there were draws for the Canadian Experience Class but not for the FSWP or the FSTP. 

If ‘no program specified’ draws are held, international graduates will be looking at stiff competition, as there are currently over 200,000 applicants in the Express Entry pool. Of these, almost 50,000 have points over 450. If CEC-specific draws are held, this will reduce the minimum score required for an invitation to apply for permanent residence, as the pool of applicants will be lower.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Allowing PGWP extensions will negatively affect current international students. Upon graduation and acquiring a year of Canadian work experience, current students will be competing against individuals who have had the opportunity to acquire four years of work experience in Canada. One year of work experience gains 35/40 comprehensive ranking system points (depending on whether the applicant is single or has a spouse or common-law partner). Those with four years of Canadian work experience get 63/72 points. 

The announcement also contained welcome news for TR to PR applicants. They may obtain work permits valid until the end of 2024. Their spouse or common-law partner will be able to apply for an open work permit. Applicants who prefer to leave Canada until their application is complete may do so. These policy changes will also take effect ‘this summer’.

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