- Post-Graduation Work Permit
- Eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit
- The 180-day deadline to apply: Important Information
- How to Apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit
- Your Post Graduation Work Permit and Your Temporary Resident Visa
- Traveling while waiting to receive your PGWP
Students who have completed a McGill degree can obtain a Post Graduation Work Permit. The Post Graduation Work Permit is an open work permit, with the following benefits:
- no job offer requirement
- a duration of up to 3 years (depending on the official length of program completed)
- eligibility for Provincial Healthcare (information on applying for healthcare in Quebec can be found on the RAMQ website)
For complete details, visit the Immigration Canada website.
Eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit
Important Notice: Flagpoling at Canada/US border
International students who are currently in Canada may apply for their Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) by travelling to a US/Canada land border (“flagpoling”). Students who choose to flagpole must do so during the flagpoling hours. Students will also have to respect the current border measures (i.e. take a pre-arrival COVID test, submit their information via the ArriveCAN app, etc.) prior to travelling to the border in order to apply for their work permit. See our Entering Canada page, under the Tab: Travelling to Canada by land for full details. Unvaccinated travellers may be required to quarantine after flagpoling.
In order to apply you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have maintained full-time status in Canada every academic semester, with the exception of your last academic semester (Please see: Part-time status in final academic session). IMPORTANT: If you have a gap in your studies, took a leave of absence or if you were part-time in a semester other than your final term, we recommend that you speak to an Immigration Advisor before applying for your PGWP.
- You must apply for a work permit within 180 days of receiving written confirmation from your institution indicating that you have met the requirements for completing your academic program (e.g. a final transcript or an official letter confirming program completion). See below for more information on how to apply during these 180 days.
- If you are applying from inside Canada at the time of application, you must hold a valid study permit or have valid visitor status.
IMPORTANT! The date of completion of your academic program is NOT the same as the date of convocation (your graduation ceremony). Your official date of completion of studies generally occurs before your convocation date.
IMPORTANT! You can only obtain a PGWP once in your lifetime.
If you plan to complete more than 1 degree/diploma/certificate in Canada, consider carefully when it would be most strategic to take advantage of this one-time opportunity.
Proof of Completion of Program Requirements
Your degree is officially granted once McGill Senate has met to approve degrees. For exact dates as to when Senate will meet, please see the McGill Senate website under Meeting dates. If your last term is:
- Winter, Senate will meet in May;
- Summer, Senate will meet in October;
- Fall, Senate will meet in February.
After Senate has met to confirm your graduation, you can generate a letter directly from Minerva that confirms that you have met all the requirements to graduate (Minerva: Student Menu > Student Records > Letters-Proof of Enrolment > Proof of Enrolment/Graduation).
In addition to your Proof of Graduation letter, you must also include a scanned copy of your official printed transcripts (you can request your official printed transcripts via Service Point's dedicated webform) OR your official electronic transcript ordered from Enrolment Service showing final grades/results with the degree granted remarks. For instructions on how to submit your transcript, please see our Post Graduation Work Permit FAQs.
If you have circumstances that require you to apply for PGWP before Senate has met to confirm graduation, please contact Service Point to request a special letter confirming that you have completed your program. Please note that in order to receive a letter confirming degree completion from Service Point, you must demonstrate that there are extenuating circumstances that require you to obtain proof of program completion before Senate meets. Extenuating circumstances could be one of the following:
- Your Study Permit will expire before Senate meets;
- You have to travel before the expiry of your immigration documents and will only be returning after the expiry of your Study Permit and TRV, if applicable;
- You have a job offer for a job that begins before Senate will meet.
Please note that you can only request this exception letter after your final grades have been posted on Minerva OR your final thesis/project has been accepted by your department.
The 180-day deadline to apply: Important Information
If you wish to apply for a PGWP, you must do so within 180 days from the first date you receive official written confirmation of completion of studies (either Senate meeting date or letter from Service Point, whichever comes first). You can apply for your PGWP as soon as you have proof of completion of your program requirements. You do not have to wait for 180 days to apply.
Within the 180 days from the date you apply for your PGWP, you must hold or have held a valid Study Permit. If your study permit expired prior to you receiving proof of completion of studies, you will not have the full 180 days from proof of completion of your studies to apply for your PGWP.
Your Deadline to apply for your PGWP is:
- 180 days from official written confirmation of completion of studies; or
- 180 days from the expiration of Study Permit
whichever comes first.
The examples below illustrate how to calculate the PGWP application deadline.
CASE SCENARIO 1: Study Permit expires after receiving proof of completion of studies
Mohammed’s last registered term was Fall 2018. The expiry date on his study permit is August 31, 2019. His degree was granted on February 21, 2019.
When is his deadline to apply for the PGWP? His deadline to apply for his PGWP is August 21, 2019. This is because 180 days from February 21, 2019, when his degree was granted, is August 21, 2019. Watch out! Mohammed’s study permit becomes invalid 90 days from proof of completion of his studies.
See section on When does my Study Permit become invalid below and timeline below:
The earliest Mohammed can apply for his PGWP is on February 21, 2019, once his degree has been granted. The latest he can apply is August 21, 2019, which is 180 days from when his degree was granted.
CASE SCENARIO 2: Study Permit expires before receiving proof of completion of studies
Ana’s last registered term was Summer 2018. Her study permit expired on August 31, 2018. Her degree was granted on October 24, 2018.
When is her deadline to apply for the PGWP? Her deadline to apply for her PGWP is February 27, 2019. This is because she must have held a valid study permit 180 days from the date she applies for the PGWP. 180 days from August 31, 2018, which is when her study permit expired, is February 27, 2019. Watch out! Ana does not have until April 21, 2019, to apply for her PGWP.
See timeline below:
The earliest Ana can apply for her PGWP is on October 24, 2018, once her degree has been granted. The latest she can apply is February 27, 2019, which is 180 days from the expiry of her study permit.
You can apply for your PGWP either from within Canada or from outside of Canada. Depending on where you apply from and what you choose to do during those 180 days, there are important consequences to be aware of.
If you do not apply for your PGWP while your study permit is still valid, you must do one of the following before your study permit becomes invalid:
1. Apply to change your status to a visitor or
2. Leave Canada.
See timeline below:
Applying for your PGWP as a student from within Canada
If you apply online for your PGWP from within Canada while your study permit is still valid, you can work full-time while waiting for a decision on your application as long as you have been continuously full-time throughout your studies, with the exception of your final term.
Applying for your PGWP as a visitor from within Canada
If you do not apply for your PGWP while your study permit is valid and you decide to stay in Canada as a visitor, you may apply for your PGWP online from within Canada as long as you are still within the 180 days from the date you completed your studies. However, in this case, you will not have the authorization to work while you wait for a decision on your PGWP application as you will not meet the conditions set out in s.186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Applying for your PGWP from outside of Canada
You may apply for your PGWP from outside of Canada as long as you are still within 180 days from the date you completed your studies. You do not require a valid study permit or valid visitor status in order to apply for your PGWP from outside of Canada.
How to Apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit
You can apply for a post-graduation work permit, Online OR at a Port of Entry (Land Border* or Airport**)
*Canada/US land border (Lacolle/Champlain, St. Armand/Phillipsburg, or Stanstead).
** If applying at an airport, you must be returning from an international flight.
Applying At a Port of Entry:
To be eligible to apply at the border, you must be TRV-exempt*
*Even if you were required to have a TRV/Entry Visa to enter Canada, you are TRV-exempt if you are traveling only to the US and back with a valid Study Permit or Work Permit - see IRPA Section 190 (3) (f)). Please note, however, that not all agents are familiar with this exception and may require you to apply online once you're in Canada. This is why we recommend that foreign nationals who require a TRV because of their nationality apply only at the US/Canada Land Border - Lacolle/Champlain . All other nationalities that do not require a TRV can apply at any Port of Entry.
Please bring the following documents:
1. Valid Passport (The PGWP cannot be granted past the validity of your passport. If your PGWP was granted for a shorter period of time than you were eligible for because your passport was expiring, you will need to apply for a new work permit and pay the fees again, once you have obtained your new passport. You should include a letter of explanation stating that your PGWP expired prematurely because of the expiry date of your previous passport)
2. Proof that you have a valid immigration status:
If flagpoling at the US/Canada Land Border -- Lacolle Champlain:
- Valid study permit; OR
- Proof of valid visitor status (e.g. visitor record, proof that you applied for visitor status from within Canada)
--> If you are uncertain as to whether you have a valid immigration status when flagpoling, please contact an immigration advisor at ISS.
If applying at the airport, you should have one of the following documents:
- Valid study permit and valid eTA if entering as a student; OR
- Valid eTA if entering as a visitor
*Not all foreign nationals are eligible to apply for their PGWP at an airport. If you are not sure if you are eligible to apply for your PGWP at an airport, please contact ISS.
3. Proof of Graduation Letter from Minerva or Proof of Program Completion Letter from Service Point confirming that you have completed all the requirements of your program of study.
4. A printed copy of your official transcript issued by Service Point. You can request your official printed transcripts via Service Point's dedicated webform. For more detailed instructions please see our Work FAQs.
5. $155 + new $100 fee (as of Feb. 21, 2015) = $255 (payable by cash, credit card or Canadian debit)
6. $85 fee for biometrics: IMPORTANT! Immigration Canada has expanded their biometrics program. You may be required to provide biometrics when applying for your PGWP at a port of entry. For more information please see our News page (See May 14, 2018 update)
Optional documents: Immigration officers occasionally ask students whether they have enough funds to pay for their living costs while looking for work. It is recommended to have a copy of your latest bank statement or any other document proving that you have sufficient funds to pay your rent while looking for work (there is no specific amount required by Immigration Canada).
If you do not have access to a car, there is a bus service to the Canada/US border from Montreal.
Biometrics requirement expanded to inside Canada applications. As of December 3, 2019, you must submit biometrics in order to extend or apply for an immigration document from inside Canada – e.g. study permit, work permit, visitor record, and temporary resident visa (TRV/Visitor Visa/Entry Visa). See the ISS News Section (December 3, 2019 entry) and Immigration Canada’s website for more information. U.S. citizens are currently exempt from having to provide biometrics. For a full list of exemptions, see Immigration Canada’s website.
Students may apply online either from within Canada or from outside Canada. Please note that processing times (Work permit extension (new employer)) will vary by country.
- Determine your eligibility to apply online for the PGWP by completing the online eligibility questionnaire.
- Once approved for online application apply through your MyCIC account
- Assemble your documents according to your personalized MyCIC document checklist, and follow the subsequent steps.
IMPORTANT: New guidelines now require applicants to include both their official electronic transcript ordered from Enrolment Service showing final grades/results and proof of completion of studies when applying for the PGWP, including when applying online. You will also need a scanned copy of your official printed transcripts (you can request your official printed transcripts via Service Point's dedicated webform) OR a copy of your official e-Transcript which can be ordered directly through Minerva. Please note, your e-Transcript may display a "COPY" watermark when opened by the immigration agent. You should therefore include a cover letter explaining why your official e-Transcript has a "COPY" watermark and combine with your e-Transcript into one pdf document. For more detailed instructions please see our Work FAQs.
Once you have applied from inside Canada and are waiting to receive your PGWP, you can begin to work full-time only if:
- you hold or held a valid* study permit at the time you applied for your PGWP, and
- you maintained a full-time student status every semester with the exception of your last term
*IMPORTANT! Your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after completion of studies or the day on which it expires, whichever comes first, as per section 222 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
Your Post Graduation Work Permit and Your Temporary Resident Visa
If your current TRV (Entry Visa) says "Student" and is still valid, you will not need a new TRV if you are changing your status to "Worker". Your TRV is valid regardless of whether it was issued to you as a student or worker. You can enter Canada with a TRV – “student” with a work permit.
If you apply for your PGWP from outside of Canada, and your TRV or eTA expires you will be automatically issued a new TRV or eTA. You do not need to complete a separate application or pay additional fees. It will be issued by the officer at the same time as the documents you need for your entry to Canada as a worker (see Immigration Canada website).
Traveling while waiting to receive your PGWP
If you have applied for your PGWP (and your study permit has expired) and you plan on traveling outside Canada while your application is in process, you can leave Canada and return.
However, in order to return and enter Canada, you must:
- have a valid eTA OR
- have a valid TRV to enter Canada OR
- be a Citizen of the United States (exempt from both the eTA and TRV).
Once you arrive at the Canadian border, the following scenarios may happen:
- You may be allowed to re-enter Canada as a temporary resident if Immigration Canada has not yet made a decision on your PGWP application. The officer at the port of entry may ask you to prove that you have enough financial capacity to support yourself in Canada. If you applied for your PGWP before your study permit expired and you are allowed to re-enter Canada as a temporary resident, you may be allowed to work while waiting for a decision on your PGWP application. See the information above on working while waiting for the PGWP.
- You may be allowed to re-enter Canada as a worker if your work permit has been approved while you were away.
- You may be asked to apply for a new work permit at the port of entry, if eligible.
Note: It is possible that you will not be able to enter Canada. The decision to allow you to enter Canada while your PGWP application is pending is at the discretion of the border services officer.