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Work in Canada - FAQs

Immigration Essentials for International Students in Graduate Programs at McGill

NEW: Study With A Work Permit

1. I am in Canada and hold a valid work permit, or have recently applied to extend my work permit. Can I study at McGill without a valid CAQ or study permit?

It depends. Effective June 27, 2023, IRCC implemented a temporary public policy measure that allows eligible workers to study in Canada without a study permit. Immigration Quebec is also exempting these eligible workers from the requirement to hold a CAQ.

Who is eligible to benefit from this temporary public policy measure?
To be eligible to study at McGill without a CAQ or study permit under this temporary public policy, you must be authorized to work in Canada with either of the following:

  • You hold a valid work permit and the application associated with that permit was received by IRCC on or before June 7, 2023; or
  • You applied to extend your work permit and received a letter from IRCC with an issue date on or before June 7, 2023 authorizing you to work in Canada while your work permit extension application is being processed.
     

Who is not eligible to benefit from this temporary public policy measure?
Anyone who applied for their work permit (initial or extension) after June 7, 2023, is not eligible to benefit from this temporary public policy measure.

THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • If you elect to study at McGill without a study permit under this temporary public policy, you will not be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit. You must have a study permit and study full-time to be eligible for the PGWP.
  • If you elect to study at McGill without a CAQ and study permit under this temporary public policy, you are not required to be enrolled on a full-time basis. However, please note that departmental policies may still require full-time enrollment as a condition of your program.
  • If you’re a worker who is studying full time and considering applying for Permanent Residency, your work experience will not count toward your eligibility for the Canada Experience Class or for gaining Canadian work experience points under the Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
  • If you’re a worker who is studying full time and considering applying for Permanent Residency, your full-time studies will count toward the Federal Skilled Worker Program adaptability and Express Entry CRS points, but only if you study at a designated learning institution (DLI) that offers PGWP-eligible programs, which McGill is and does.

NOTE: This public policy is in effect until June 27, 2026 and may be revoked at any time, without prior notice. For more details, please visit the Immigration Canada and Immigration Quebec websites.

2. How long can I study at McGill without a CAQ or study permit under this temporary public policy measure?

  1. If you meet the eligibility requirements of this temporary policy, and you held a valid work permit on June 7, 2023, you can study without a CAQ and study permit until the earliest of the two following dates:
  • the expiry date on your work permit; OR
  • June 27, 2026 (the date IRCC’s temporary public policy expires)
  1. If you meet the eligibility requirements of this temporary policy, and you had a work permit extension application in progress on June 7, 2023, you can study without a CAQ and study permit until the earliest of the three following dates:
  • the expiry date on your approved work permit extension;
  • the date your work permit extension application is refused (if applicable); OR
  • June 27, 2026 (the date this temporary public policy expires)

3. My work permit will expire before I complete my program. Do I need a CAQ and study permit?

You will need to apply for a CAQ and apply for a study permit if:

  • Your courses, degree or program length will extend beyond the validity of your current work permit (to cover the period you will be studying after its expiry); or
  • Your work permit extension application is refused.

On and Off Campus Work

1. How many hours can I work as an international student during an academic term?

Full-time students* are authorized to work in Canada full-time on-campus and part-time off-campus (up to a maximum of 20hrs per week) during an academic term. Exceptionally, students who are part-time in their final term but have been full-time in every previous term are authorized to work full-time on-campus and part-time off-campus in their final academic term before graduating.

*For undergraduate and non-thesis graduate students, full-time means you are enrolled for a minimum of 12 credits per academic term. PhD and Masters thesis students are considered full-time in every semester of their program, including the Summer term, regardless of the number of credits they are taking.

NOTE: If you are outside of Canada, you are not restricted to the limits defined by Canadian immigration regulations regarding on-campus and off-campus work. You must, however, respect the allowable hours of work in the country where you are currently residing.

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In 2023-2024 there were two IRCC temporary policies that allowed eligible international students to work full-time off-campus during an academic term. These policies ended on April 30th 2024.

2. I have completed my program in the Winter term, but my study permit expires at the end of summer. Can I work in the summer?

No. If you were always enrolled full-time (except for your final term), you may work an unlimited amount of hours on-campus and/or a maximum of 20h/week off-campus until you receive proof of program completion (i.e., the proof of graduation letter available on Minerva after Senate meets to grant your degree OR the special letter of program completion from Service Point before Senate meets). Once you receive proof of program completion, you are no longer authorized to work on the basis of your study permit*.

*Students who meet all the PGWP eligibility requirements may be eligible to begin to work after submitting an application for the PGWP and for the entire time their PGWP application is pending.

3. I'm about to complete my program. Can I work after the end of my final semester of studies?

It depends.

If you were enrolled full-time in every term except your last term, and have always respected the allowable hours of work during your studies, you can continue to work full-time on campus and/or part-time off-campus (maximum of 20 hours per week) after the end of your final semester until the first date you receive written confirmation from McGill that you have complete your program. Once you receive written proof of program completion, you must then stop all work activity – whether or not this work is paid or unpaid.

You can start working full-time on campus and/or off-campus:

  • After you have obtained your PGWP; or
  • As soon as you have submitted an online PGWP application as long as you meet certain conditions. These conditions include holding a valid study permit at the time of application, applying from inside Canada, having been full-time throughout your studies (with the exception of your final term of studies), and having respected the allowable hours of work during your studies.

4. I don't have a Social Insurance Number and Service Canada Offices are closed. How can I get one?

Service Canada is now processing SINs online. Please visit the Service Canada website to apply online.

5. Can I take less than 12 credits per term and study part-time?

Under the current conditions for CAQ holders, international students must make their studies their principal activity. This means that in order to respect your CAQ conditions, you must maintain full-time student status every term for the duration of your program, with the exception of your last term.

Under the current eligibility requirements to work on-campus and off-campus, international students must maintain full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

Under the current eligibility requirements for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP), international students must maintain full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

We, therefore, recommend that all international students maintain full-time student status for the duration of their program with the exception of their last term, so as not to compromise their ability to extend their CAQ, maintain authorization to work on and off-campus or their eligibility for the PGWP.

If you must be part-time due to extenuating circumstances such as health issues or a family emergency, please contact us so that we may best advise you. You may also wish to review our part-time studies information sheet.

6. Do I need a medical exam before starting my on-campus or off-campus job?

It depends.

If the job you plan on doing brings you into close contact with vulnerable people, you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician - even if you are not prompted to do so when submitting your study permit application. Examples of such jobs include:

    • clinical laboratory workers;
    • patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes;
    • medical students admitted to Canada to attend university;
    • medical electives and physicians on short-term locums;
    • workers in primary or secondary school settings, or workers in child-care settings;
    • domestics;
    • workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled;
    • day nursery employees; and
    • other similar-type jobs.

If you already have a Study Permit it is important to verify the conditions of your permit. If it does NOT have the condition that states that you are restricted from working in the industry where you will or intend to be employed (e.g., healthcare, primary or secondary education, daycares, senior homes, etc.), then you may use it to work in Canada (if meeting all other requirements to do so). If it DOES state this condition, then you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician and apply for a new Study Permit (and pay all applicable fees) so that the condition is removed in order to work in your intended job.

You can find a list of panel physicians in your area on the Immigration Canada website.

Post-Graduation Work Permit

1. I am a master's student completing a program that has an official program length of less than 2 years, how long will my post-graduation work permit (PGWP) be issued for?

Starting on February 15, 2024, international students who are graduating from a master’s degree program that is less than 2 years in length may now be eligible for a 3-year post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

To be eligible for the PGWP, you must have completed a program that is at least 8 months in length and maintained continuous, full-time student status in every term except your final term, among other eligibility criteria.

For more information about the PGWP, visit our PGWP webpage and watch our recorded PGWP webinar. You can also visit IRCC’s PGWP webpage.

2. Is Winter 2024 your final term of studies? Are you hoping to work in Canada after the term has ended?

If you have maintained full-time status in every term of your program with the exception of your final term and you have always respected the limit of allowable work hours during your studies, you are authorized to continue to work until the first date that you receive official confirmation of program completion. You must then stop working.

You can resume working only once you have submitted an application for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) from inside Canada while holding a valid study permit (and you meet all the eligibility requirements) OR once you have obtained your PGWP (if you do not meet all the eligibility requirements).

*Official confirmation of program completion can either be a Proof of Graduation Letter that you can generate yourself on Minerva the day after Senate meets on May 23, 2024 or a Post Graduate Work Permit Letter that you may be able to obtain from Service Point before Senate meets (if you meet certain conditions). Remember: It is the date one of the above letters is made available to you - NOT the date you print or download the letter - that is the day you must stop working.

Please see our WORK FAQs and Post-Graduation Work Permit Cheat Sheet for more information on the PGWP and for details on how many hours you can work on and off-campus while you wait to receive proof of program completion.

***IMPORTANT***

If you are full-time and authorized to work in the Winter 2024 term but you have not been full-time in every other term of your program, you must stop working once the Winter 2024 term officially ends on April 30, 2024.

3. When will my transript show degree granted?

The “Degree Granted” remark will appear on your transcript after the Senate Steering Committee has met to officially confer graduates with their degrees. Students who are approved for graduation can generate a Confirmation of Graduation letter in Minerva as proof of program completion the day after Senate has met to grant their degree.

  • For students who complete their degree requirements in the Fall term, “Degree granted” will appear on their transcript after the Senate Steering Committee meets in February.
  • For students who complete their degree requirements in the Winter term, “Degree granted” will appear on their transcript after the Senate Steering Committee meets in May.
  • For students who complete their degree requirements in the Summer term, “Degree granted” will appear on their transcript after the Senate Steering Committee meets in October.

IMPORTANT: The exact date in February, May and October that the Senate Steering Committee meets differs from one academic year to the next. Please visit the Convocation & Graduation FAQ page under the tab, Transcript & Diploma - "When will my transcript show degree granted?" for more specific information.

4. When will I receive official confirmation of program completion?

Official confirmation of program completion occurs on the business day following the day Senate Steering Committee meets to officially grant your degree OR the date you are issued a Post-Graduation Work Permit letter from Service Point - whichever comes first.
 

  • Once Senate has met, you can then download a Proof of Graduation Letter from your Minerva account (Minerva: Student Menu > Student Records > Letters-Proof of Enrolment > Proof of Enrolment/Graduation).
     

If you have requested a Post-Graduation Work Permit Letter from Service Point, it will be emailed directly to you.

5. May I travel and return to Canada while PGWP is processing?

You can leave Canada and return, as long as your visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is still valid. Your study permit is not a visa and doesn't allow you to travel back to Canada.

If your visa or eTA is expired, you have to get a new one before you return to Canada.

When you return to Canada:

  • You may be authorized to enter as a student if your study permit is still valid; OR
  • If your PGWP application has been approved while you were away, you may be authorized to enter as a worker and can begin working in Canada; OR
  • If your PGWP application is still processing, you may be authorized to enter as a visitor, and you can work without a work permit until a decision has been made on your application if you meet the conditions to work while your PGWP application is processing.

    NOTE: The officer may ask you for proof that you applied for a post-graduation work permit, such as a copy of your application or the fee payment receipt.


If the officer believes there is reason to refuse your re-entry, you won’t be authorized to enter Canada.

6. I have submitted my final thesis and my department has approved me for graduation. Do I need to wait for Senate to meet to apply for the PGWP?

No.

Once you have submitted your final thesis and your department has approved you for graduation, you can request a Post-Graduation Work Permit Letter from Service Point before Senate meets to grant you your degree. You can then use that letter to apply for the PGWP.

7. I want to apply for the PGWP. However, my study permit will expire after I complete my program but before Senate meets to grant degrees. What should I do?

If you have completed all your program requirements and your department has approved you for graduation, you can request a Post-Graduation Work Permit Letter from Service Point before Senate meets to grant your degree. You can then use this letter to apply for the PGWP before your study permit expires.

However, if you are uncertain as to if you’ll be able to obtain the Post-Graduation Work Permit Letter before your study permit expires, you may wish to proceed with one of the following options:

  • OPTION 1: Apply to extend your CAQ as soon as possible and then apply to extend your study permit before your study permit expires; OR
  • OPTION 2: Apply to extend your stay as a visitor before your study permit expires.
    NOTE: If you change your status to a visitor, you must apply for your PGWP from outside Canada; OR
  • OPTION 3: Leave Canada before your study permit expires and apply for the PGWP from outside Canada.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR OPTION 1:
Apply to extend your CAQ and apply to extend your study permit before it expires.

  • In your CAQ application, in addition to the required documents, include a cover letter that explains that the current term is your final term and that you are renewing your CAQ for an additional 90 days to be able to apply for the PGWP. You will need to submit proof of enrolment for the current term, and if possible, a letter from your Department that confirms that the current term is your final term.
  • Once you receive your CAQ approval, you must apply to extend your study permit before your current study permit expires. In your study permit extension application, include a cover letter that explains that the current term is your final term and that you are requesting an additional 90 days to be able to apply for the PGWP.
  • See our CAQ Renewal Guide and Study Permit Renewal Guide for more information and instructions on submitting a CAQ renewal and study permit extension application.

NOTE: If you apply to extend your study permit from inside Canada before it expires, you will be on maintained status once your study permit expires and can thus remain in Canada until a decision is made on your application.

  • If you obtain proof of program completion, have received your new study permit in the meantime, and then apply for the PGWP from inside Canada while holding a valid study permit and within your deadline, you may start to work full-time while waiting for your PGWP to be issued, if eligible.
  • IMPORTANT: You cannot apply for the PGWP from inside Canada while on maintained status.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR OPTION 2:
Apply to extend your stay as a visitor before your study permit expires

  • See the Immigration Canada website for instructions on how to submit an application to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor (visitor record) while you wait to receive official notification of program completion.
  • If you change your status to a visitor before applying for the PGWP, you cannot apply for the PGWP from inside Canada. You must apply for the PGWP from outside Canada.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR OPTION 3:
Leave Canada before your study permit expires and apply for your PGWP from outside of Canada

  • If you choose this option, you do not have to apply to extend your study permit or change your status to visitor
  • You can apply for the PGWP once you have obtained proof of program completion
  • Once your application is approved, you will receive a TRV or eTA (if applicable) and a work permit approval letter. You will need to present the letter to the border agent when returning to Canada to have your Post Graduation Work Permit issued.

8. Some of my studies at McGill were or will have been completed online from outside Canada due to COVID-19. Am I still be eligible for the PGWP?

YES. You can complete up to 100% of your studies online from outside Canada and remain eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

Normally, time spent studying outside of Canada is deducted from the length of the PGWP and only online courses completed from within Canada (less than 50% of your program) can count towards the total length of the program when determining the length of the PGWP.

However, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions, IRCC announced a series of new facilitative measures that allow students who were forced to begin their program, continue their studies, or complete their program remotely from outside Canada to maintain their post-graduation work permit eligibility.

As per IRCC’s most recent update to their PGWP facilitative measures:

All of the time you spent studying online from outside Canada between spring 2020 and August 31, 2022, counts toward the length of a PGWP. This applies even if you’re completing 2 study programs.

If you’re completing 2 study programs, you can finish 100% of your studies online if the programs were ongoing or started between March 2020 and summer 2022, and


The following time won’t count toward the length of a PGWP:

  • time spent studying outside Canada after August 31, 2022
  • time spent studying before you applied for a study permit


NOTE: Only the time you spent studying outside of Canada after IRCC received your study permit application counts towards the length of your PGWP and your study permit application must be also be approved.

9. I applied for PGWP and wasn't always full-time (excluding final semester) but got an IRCC letter stating I can work while my PGWP is pending.

No. In order to work while your PGWP application is pending, you must meet certain conditions. If you do not meet all of these conditions, then you cannot work while your application is pending even if you receive the IRCC Acknowledgement of Receipt letter stating that you can work.

10. The letter from IRCC states I can work until X date while my PGWP application is pending. After X, should I stop working and wait for my PGWP?

In order to work while your PGWP application is pending, you must meet certain conditions. If you meet all these conditions, you can work while your PGWP application is pending. Concerning the date included in the Acknowledgement of Receipt letter, IRCC has confirmed that:

Officers should understand that the validity date of the letter in no way overrides the authority of paragraph R186(w), which allows foreign nationals who meet the requirements to continue working until a final decision is made on their work permit application

In other words, if you meet all the PGWP eligibility requirements, you may continue to work for the entire time your PGWP application is pending, regardless of the date indicated on your Acknowledgement of Receipt letter. For more information, please see IRCC’s website.

11. I began/completed a program at McGill, online, from inside Canada in Summer/Fall 2020, Winter/Fall 2021, or Winter 2022. Am I still eligible for PGWP?

Yes. Normally, if more than 50% of a student’s program of study’s total courses are completed by distance learning (online) from inside Canada, the program may be considered a distance-learning or online program, and the applicant would be ineligible for a post-graduation work permit.

However, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing public health restrictions, IRCC has announced a series of new facilitative measures that allow students who were forced to begin their program, continue their studies, or complete their program online from inside Canada to maintain their post-graduation work permit eligibility even if they complete more than 50% of their program online.

As stated on IRCC’s website, these facilitative measures for students studying online from Canada include the following:

If you’re inside Canada

You’re still eligible for the PGWP if either of the following situations apply to you:

  • Your in-person classes in Canada have been moved to an online-only format and you are taking your classes online because of COVID-19.
    • It’s highly recommended that you attend in-class options when offered.
  • You had to put your studies on hold, or study part-time, during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters because of COVID-19.

NOTE: As of the Fall 2020 semester, you must be studying full-time to be eligible.

12. I will be applying for my Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) while on maintained status. Can I work in Canada while my application is processing?

No. If you are currently on maintained status (i.e., you are awaiting a decision on your study permit extension application), and wish to apply for your PGWP before your new permit is issued, you can apply from inside Canada but cannot work while your application is pending.

This is because In order to work while your PGWP application is pending, you must meet certain conditions, including the requirement to hold a valid study permit at the time you submit your application. Because an applicant on maintained status no longer holds a valid study permit, applicants in this situation cannot work until they have obtained their PGWP.

13. I am applying for my PGWP and am required to submit my official transcript. How can I ensure my transcript will be considered "official"?

You can submit a copy of your official eTranscript (order an electronic official transcript).

For your official eTranscript, we recommend that you include cover letter explaining that you are providing a copy of the electronic version of the official transcript. 

NOTE: it is possible that the "COPY" watermark will appear on the eTranscript when you combine the eTranscript with other documents into one PDF, when you save the eTranscript to your computer, and/or when the immigration agent opens the file. You should mention this possibility in your cover letter and also ensure that you view/save your eTranscript according to the instructions provided by MyCreds when you order your eTranscript.

You should create one pdf document (that includes your Cover Letter and eTranscript) and upload the document in the “Transcript” section of your Document Checklist.

14. I'm about to complete my program. Can I work after the end of my final semester of studies?

It depends.

If you were enrolled full-time in every term except your last term, and have always respected the allowable hours of work during your studies, you can continue to work full-time on campus and/or part-time off-campus (maximum of 20 hours per week) after the end of your final semester until the first date you receive written confirmation from McGill that you have complete your program (either the proof of program completion letter from Service Point or the proof of graduation letter after Senate meets). Once you receive written proof of program completion, you must then stop all work activity – whether or not this work is paid or unpaid.

You can start working full-time on campus and/or off-campus:

  • After you have obtained your PGWP; or
  • As soon as you have submitted an online PGWP application and as long as you meet certain conditions. These conditions include holding a valid study permit at the time of application, applying from inside Canada, having been full-time throughout your studies (with the exception of your final term of studies), and having respected the allowable hours of work during your studies.

15. If I am part-time in any given term(s) during my studies, do I remain eligible for the PGWP?

Under the current eligibility requirements for the post-graduation work permit (PGWP), international students must maintain full-time student status every term for the duration of their program, with the exception of their last term.

If you must be or were part-time due to extenuating circumstances such as health issues or a family emergency, please contact us so that we may best advise you on how to submit your application.

You may also wish to review our part-time studies information sheet.

16. If my current TRV (Entry Visa) says "Student" and is still valid, do I need a new TRV if I am changing my status to "Worker"?

Your TRV is valid until its expiry regardless of whether it was issued to you as a student or as a worker. You can leave and re-enter Canada with a TRV marked “S-1 Student” even if you have changed your status to a worker.

17. I have a valid PGWP or will be applying soon. What level of job must I have for my spouse to be eligible to apply for or extend their Open Work Permit?

You can now work in a job at any skill level in order for your spouse to be eligible for an OWP.

As of January 30, 2023, IRCC has temporarily removed all restrictions on the level of job a foreign worker must have in order for their spouse to be eligible to apply for or extend their Open Work Permit.

For more information, see Changes to open work permit eligibility for family members of foreign workers.

18. Do I need a medical exam when applying for my Post-Graduation Work Permit Job?

It depends.

If the job you plan on doing brings you into close contact with vulnerable people, you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician - even if you are not prompted to do so when submitting your PGWP application. Examples of such jobs include:

    • clinical laboratory workers;
    • patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes;
    • medical students admitted to Canada to attend university;
    • medical electives and physicians on short-term locums;
    • workers in primary or secondary school settings, or workers in child-care settings;
    • domestics;
    • workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled;
    • day nursery employees; and
    • other similar-type jobs.

If you already have a Post-Graduation Work Permit it is important to verify the conditions of your permit. If it does NOT have the condition that states that you are restricted from working in the industry where you will or intend to be employed (e.g., healthcare, primary or secondary education, daycares, senior homes, etc.), then you may use it to work in Canada (if meeting all other requirements to do so). If it DOES state this condition, then you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician and apply to change the conditions on your work permit (and pay all applicable fees) so that the condition is removed in order to work in your intended job.

You can find a list of panel physicians in your area on the Immigration Canada website.

Co-Op Work Permit

1. Can I complete my program's mandatory co-op/internship from outside of Canada?

If you will be completing a mandatory internship outside of Canada, you do not need a Coop Work Permit to do so. However, please check with your program coordinator prior to accepting any offers to ensure your internship is approved for credit.

2. Do I need a medical exam before starting my coop internship?

It depends.

If the job or work placement you will be doing for your internship brings you into close contact with vulnerable people, you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician when applying for your Co-op Work Permit - even if you are not prompted to do so when submitting your study permit and coop work permit application. Students with work placements or clinicals in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Education must undergo a medical exam. Other examples of such jobs include:

    • workers in health-care settings;
    • clinical laboratory workers;
    • patient attendants in nursing and geriatric homes;
    • medical students admitted to Canada to attend university;
    • medical electives and physicians on short-term locums;
    • workers in primary or secondary school settings, or workers in child-care settings;
    • domestics;
    • workers who give in-home care to children, the elderly and the disabled;
    • day nursery employees; and
    • other similar-type jobs.
       

If you already have a Co-op Work Permit, it is important to verify the conditions of your permit. If it does NOT have the condition that states that you are restricted from working in the industry where you will be employed (e.g., healthcare, primary or secondary education, daycares, senior homes, etc.), then you may use it to complete your mandatory internship. If it DOES state this condition, then you will need to undergo a medical exam by a panel physician and apply for a new Coop Work Permit so that the condition is removed in order to be able to begin your mandatory internship. There is no fee to apply for a new Coop Work Permit.

You can find a list of panel physicians in your area on the Immigration Canada website.

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