Canada’s world-renowned education, high quality of life, and pathways to immigration make it a popular study abroad destination for international students. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that 642,480 international students studied in Canada in 2019.
With schools moving classes online and the Government of Canada closing its borders, the long term effects on international students have been uncertain. ApplyBoard has been working to identify these impacts and find ways to support these students in this challenging time.
Dan Weber, Sr. Director, Innovation and Strategy at ApplyBoard, presented a policy paper in March. He recommended the Government of Canada immediately enact policy to allow students to continue their studies virtually from abroad, and qualify their time spent in full-time virtual education toward post-graduation work permit eligibility. This policy paper contributed to productive dialogue with organizations like Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada, the provincial and federal government, and other stakeholders who agreed with the concept. We’ve been connecting with educational institutions, Recruitment Partners, international students, and other groups to open up meaningful conversations with policymakers, including IRCC.
On April 7, 2020, IRCC announced updates to Canada’s post-graduation work permit requirements that will have a widespread positive impact on international students from around the world.
What Is a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?
Canada’s post-graduation work permit (PGWP) gives international students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) the ability to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable work experience in Canada. Work through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) can also help students on their path to permanent residency. It is important to note that not all DLIs make students eligible for the PGWPP. In addition to graduating from a DLI, the student must meet all other criteria to obtain their PGWP.
Students are typically required to have graduated from a program that was at least eight months long at a DLI, earning them a degree, diploma, or certificate. Students are required to maintain full-time status in Canada until at least their final semester of study to be eligible.
Historically, completing the majority of a program through distance learning, such as online classes, would have made students ineligible for a PGWP. Any online learning was also required to be completed from within Canada. With the majority of post-secondary courses being moved online, and students returning home, international students have recently been left uncertain about their futures in Canada.
Updates to Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Eligibility
On April 7, IRCC announced that completing the majority of a program online would no longer affect post-graduation work permit eligibility:
“If your in-class courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program won’t be affected. This includes students who have a study permit or who have been approved for a study permit for a program starting in May or June but who are unable to travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions. International students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and may complete up to 50% of their program while outside Canada if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.”
This update means that international students who have had their classes moved to an online-only format due to COVID-19 regulations will remain eligible for a post-graduation work permit in Canada. Students can even complete up to 50% of their program from outside of Canada if they can’t arrive in Canada sooner. New students will also be able to apply to study at Canadian institutions with the expectation that they will enter Canada for their studies when travel restrictions have been lifted.
Students will now be able to start or continue their courses from their home countries and come to Canada when it’s safe for them to do so.
The Virtual Student Experience
Most schools are moving courses and resources for May 2020 and September 2020 to an online-only format. This commitment gives international students the freedom to continue applying to their programs of interest, start their studies from their home country, and travel to Canada for their full-time studies in the future.
Classes aren’t the only piece of the student experience being moved online. Many colleges and universities are finding ways to recreate their full suite of support programs for new students, including virtual campus tours, virtual guidance, and online events.
Schools have been seeing a spike in traffic for virtual campus tours since the outbreak began. These resources are a fantastic way to engage students from around the world – the groundwork that is being laid now could benefit prospective international students and the institutions they hope to attend for years to come.
Benefits to International Education
This announcement from the Government of Canada on PGWP eligibility will have a substantial impact on the futures of international students. Moving forward, students can continue their education with no delays, remain eligible for a PGWP, and save money by not travelling or paying rent in the meantime.
“This is a huge step forward by the Government of Canada and is incredibly important to international students, both existing and prospective, schools, Recruitment Partners, and everyone in the international education ecosystem. Spread the word! Canada’s education sector is open for business.” -Dan Weber, Sr. Director, Innovation and Strategy at ApplyBoard
ApplyBoard is proud to continue supporting international students in this time of crisis and excited to help more students than ever on their educational journeys.