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Canada Announces Changes to PGWP Eligibility Amid COVID-19

Andy Budgell

On July 22, the Government of Canada announced additional updates to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility for international students.

After a student applies for a study permit, any time spent studying online from outside of Canada now counts towards the length of their PGWP. Previously, only time spent studying online once a student received approval counted towards their study permit.

For time spent studying alone to count towards a PGWP, students must:

  • Complete at least 50% of their program in Canada (this includes online classes completed abroad)
  • Apply for a study permit by September 15, 2020
  • Start a program in spring, summer or fall 2020

Students won’t have time deducted from the length of a PGWP for studies completed outside Canada until December 31, 2020.

ApplyBoard’s co-founder and CMO, Meti Basiri, reviews the changes and what they mean.

Applying for a Study Permit

Students applying for a study permit from outside Canada should:

  • Include as many required documents as possible
  • Submit a letter of explanation for why the other documents were not included

Completed applications are processed first. Incomplete applications are processed in two stages. This two-stage process only applies to study permit applications:

  • Submitted by September 15, 2020
  • For programs starting in spring, summer or fall 2020

Stage 1: Eligibility
An officer will review an application for:

  • A letter of acceptance (LOA) from a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • A Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (for students studying in Quebec)
  • Proof that the applicant has sufficient money to pay for:
    • Tuition fees
    • Living expenses for themselves and any family members who travel with them Canada
    • Return transportation for themselves and any family members who travel with them to Canada
  • Any family ties the student has in Canada
  • Evidence the student won’t overstay their visa when it expires

The student will receive a notification in their online account if they pass the first stage. Please note, this doesn’t ensure that an application will be approved and that a study permit will be issued.

The Government of Canada intends to pass most applications through stage one prior to the start of the fall 2020 semester.

Stage 2: Admissibility and Changes to Eligibility
An officer will review an application for:

  • A medical exam (if necessary)
  • Police certificates (if necessary)
  • Biometrics
  • Any information that changed after the application was reviewed for eligibility

An application will be approved if it passes the second stage. Once travel restrictions change, students can:

  • Travel to Canada to start their studies, or
  • Continue their studies in Canada if they’ve already commenced online

Travelling to Canada

International students with a valid study permit, or who received approval for a study permit on or prior to March 18, 2020, are exempt from travel restrictions.

All travellers entering Canada by air, including international students, must:

  • Pass a health check conducted by the airline prior to boarding their flight. Passengers exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to enter Canada by air.
  • Quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Students must be able to share a quarantine plan upon request when entering Canada. Anyone who cannot demonstrate a quarantine plan should not travel to Canada.

Click here for more information on what you need to know before travelling to Canada by air. Additional information on travel restrictions and exemptions can be found here.

Working in Canada

Students with Authorization to Work
Students can continue to work even if COVID-19 has forced them to drop down to a part-time student or take a break in studies as long as they are:

  • A full-time student
  • Authorized to work on- or off-campus while studying

Students employed off-campus can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session, and full-time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.

International Students Providing Essential Services
Until August 31, 2020, international students are temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours if they’re:

  • A study permit holder in an academic session 
  • Eligible to work off-campus
  • Providing an essential service

For a list of essential services and functions, please click here.

Read our blog: “Top Questions About Studying in Canada During COVID-19”.