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  • Andrew Carvajal

Learning Moments - COVID-19 policy that allows holders of a PGWP extend their status as a worker

This article by Andrew Carvajal is part of the Immigration Education Alliance (IMEDA) weekly column titled "Learning Moments".

Hello fellow practitioners. Today’s column deals with the COVID-19 policy that allows former holders of a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to extend their status as a worker.

Reader’s question

I have a client whose PGWP expired on October 15, 2020 and he is currently in Canada. On October 14, 2020 (a day prior to the expiry of his status) we applied for a PGWP extension which would allow my client to continue working under implied status (hoping for him to be invited under Express Entry). We also decided to apply for a Visitor Record to keep him in status as the work permit extension would likely be refused.

My questions are: is my client eligible for the new 18-month work permit for former PGWP holders? Also, can my client continue to work while awaiting a decision on his work permit application?


In January of this year, the government introduced a temporary policy that will allow those with an expired (or soon to be expired) PGWP to obtain a new open work permit for another 18 months. This will in turn allow international students to stay in Canada and accumulate work experience in order to eventually transition to permanent residence. The requirements of the policy are simple and involve the following:

1. Have a PGWP that expired on or after January 20, 2020, OR a PGWP that expires in 4 months or less from the date of the new work permit application.

2. Had been in Canada as of January 27, 2021, when the public policy took effect, and have stayed in Canada since then.

3. Hold a valid temporary resident status or be applying to restore status.

4. Submit an application under the policy between January 27 and July 27, 2021.

Our reader’s client would meet the mentioned criteria as this person: (i) had a PGWP that expired after January 20, 2020; (ii) is currently in Canada and is in status, or could apply to restore their status, and; (iii) is able to submit the application after January 27 and before July 27, 2021.

What we foresee, given the situation described by our reader, is one of three possible scenarios:

1. If both applications that were submitted in October 2020 to extend the client’s status were refused and the person is out of status, he may apply to restore his status as a worker under the new open work permit policy. It does not matter if the usual 90-day window to apply for restoration has passed, since there is a separate COVID-19 policy that has extended that window until August 31, 2021. Bear in mind that under this scenario, the form international student has already lost his status as a worker and therefore cannot work in Canada until the new work permit is approved.

2. Considering that this person also submitted a Visitor Record application, if that was approved (and the October work permit extension refused), then the client holds a valid temporary status as a visitor. In this case, he can also apply for the open work permit for former PGWP holders without the need to restore temporary resident status. He may not work, however, until the work permit is approved.

3. If the client is currently under implied status as a worker because there has not been a decision on the October application to extend the PGWP, then the client is still eligible to continue working until that application is refused. He can also apply for the new open work permit under the COVID-19 policy for former PGWP holders. He cannot use his October application for a work permit under the new policy, since the policy requires that the work permit application be filed after January 27, 2021. If either of his applications for a work permit is approved while on implied status, then the client will not have to suspend his work.

To summarize, the client may apply for the new 18-month open work permit for former PGWP holders. He can do this because of the expiry date of his PGWP and regardless of whether he still has valid temporary status, or he is applying to restore his status.


Twitter: @CarvajalLaw


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