Options to stay in Canada after your PGWP expires
If you want to stay in Canada beyond your Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), you have several options depending on your ambitions and personal circumstances.
The PGWP is a one-time deal with no renewals. In general, it lasts for the duration of your academic program. So, if you completed a one-year certificate, you will receive a PGWP for one year. It is good for a maximum of three years.
A PGWP, as an open work permit, allows you to work for any employer in Canada. However, if you wish to file for Canadian immigration, it will help you if you work in a “skilled” occupation.
This term “skilled” now applies to occupations in Canada that are classified as skill levels 0, A, and B on the National Occupational Classification (NOC). When the new occupational classification system goes into force in 2022, these skill levels will alter. On the government website, you can verify the skill level of your occupation.
Although there are immigration possibilities for persons who work in other occupations, having work experience in a skilled occupation can qualify you for Express Entry, Canada’s most popular immigration method.
We are not here to tell you which path to Canadian immigration is best for you. There is no such thing as an easy way out. However, the purpose of this post is to lay out all of your alternatives for staying over your PGWP so you can make an informed selection based on your personal preferences.
Fill out an immigration application
When you apply for certain immigration programs, you will be eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP), which permits you to continue working in Canada if your PGWP expires before you are accepted for permanent residence.
Many people consider Express Entry to be an immigration program, however, it is actually an application management system for three federal immigration programs as well as some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). The three Express Entry programs are as follows:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP);
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC); and
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).
To be eligible for one of the three Express Entry programs, you must first be eligible for one of the three programs. Once you are in the applicant pool, you will be assigned a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
Only after receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) from Canada’s immigration agency, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, may you apply for immigration (IRCC).
To be eligible for an ITA, you must have at least the minimum number of CRS points required in a certain Express Entry lottery. IRCC holds these draws usually every two weeks, inviting the highest scorers to apply for Canadian immigration.
Provincial Nominee Program
With the exception of Nunavut and Quebec, most Canadian provinces and territories run Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).
PNPs are classified into two types. Enhanced PNPs look through the Express Entry pool to find applicants to invite to apply for a provincial nomination. Express Entry candidates who receive a provincial nomination receive an automatic 600 points toward their overall score. This award propels them to the top of the Express Entry candidate pool, positioning them to receive an ITA in a subsequent draw.
People who may not meet the requirements for Express Entry may be able to come to Canada through a standard PNP. These programs allow you to apply directly to the province for a provincial nomination, which will subsequently support your application for permanent residency to the federal government. Some of these basic PNPs are also available to those who do not have job experience in a “skilled” profession category.
PNPs do not always require prior experience in the province or a job offer, but both are advantageous. Choosing a PNP is a combination of determining what you qualify for and deciding which province you wish to live in.
Quebec has its own system of immigration. To immigrate to Quebec, you must first get a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ), which will be used to support your immigration application to the federal government. Despite the fact that Quebec is the most self-sufficient province in terms of immigration, only the federal government may grant permanent residency status.
You may be eligible for the Quebec Experience Program if you speak French and have studied and worked in Quebec (PEQ). For Quebec PGWP holders, this is a popular choice. You have the option of applying as an international student or as a temporary foreign worker. International students must meet particular educational qualifying standards, demonstrate their French language ability, and indicate their will to settle in Quebec. Workers must have at least two years of full-time experience in a skilled occupation and be currently employed at the time of application. They must also demonstrate their proficiency in French.
If you speak French and have specialized work experience, you may be qualified to immigrate to Quebec through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP).
Atlantic Immigration Pilot
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot makes it easier for firms in Atlantic Canada to hire foreign workers. If you are hired in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia, you may be eligible. This program has three streams: one for skilled employees, one for intermediate skilled workers (occupations with skill level “C”), and one for Atlantic region graduates.
Spousal sponsorship may be appropriate if your spouse or common-law partner is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. If you apply as an in-land applicant, you may be eligible to take advantage of an open work permit designed expressly for wives and common-law partners of Canadians in the immigration process.
Stay as a temporary resident
Assume that none of these options are suitable for you at this time. You may be able to prolong your stay in Canada with a different work permit.
Work permits: LMIAs and trade agreements
In order to obtain a work visa in Canada, your employer will frequently be required to do a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This procedure is frequently time-consuming and expensive.
However, there are alternative work permit possibilities available through the International Mobility Program that make the procedure easier. These work permits exist to further Canada’s broad economic, social, and cultural policy goals. These work visa programs include workers whose presence would provide Canada with a “substantial social or cultural benefit.” Film and television workers, as well as entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals, are some examples.
Canada also has trade treaties that allow nationals of certain nations to work in Canada without the need for an LMIA. Citizens of the United States and Mexico, for example, may be eligible for a CUSMA Professionals work permit provided they have secured employment in one of the 60 qualifying occupations. Canada has trade agreements with the European Union under CETA, as well as with the United Kingdom through CUKTCA.
In addition, if you are from a country with whom Canada has a bilateral agreement, you may be allowed to continue on an International Experience Canada (IEC) program.