What is a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is an open work permit that allows students who have graduated from an eligible Designated Learning Institution (VCC's DLI number is O19279717512) to work full time in Canada and gain valuable Canadian work experience. A PGWP is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Students completing a second certificate or diploma, or completing a degree may decide to wait until after completing the full period of study before applying for the PGWP. 


Who Can Apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit?

International students who graduate from VCC are eligible to apply for a PGWP if they meet all PGWP eligibility criteria, provided they: 

  • Had a study permit that has been valid within the last 180 days or maintained status in Canada 
  • Have completed a full-time program of study at VCC that was at least 8 months long, and that led to a Certificate, Diploma or Degree, and 
  • Have maintained full-time academic status as an international student in Canada, with the exception of scheduled breaks, authorized leave, and the final academic term 
  • Have studied at least 50% of their program in-person inside Canada (an exception to the COVID-19 measure to study online until August 31, 2024)  


Length of a Post-Graduation Work Permit

The length of a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) will vary from a minimum of 8 months to a maximum of 3 years, depending on the length of your program(s) of studies in Canada. International students must meet all PGWP eligibility criteria to obtain a PGWP. 

The issuance of a PGWP is ultimately at the sole discretion of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For a complete understanding of PGWP length, please visit Post-graduation work permit (PGWP) validity and application

VCC Programs' PGWP eligibility

  • VCC Certificates of less than 8 months: These programs are not eligible for a PGWP.
  • VCC Certificates of 8 months, but less than 2 years: These programs may be eligible for a PGWP for up to the same length as your program. The eligibility for PGWP is under the discretion of IRCC reviewing your file. Exception: The University Transfer Certificate programs do not guarantee a PGWP as they may not guarantee full-time academic status.
  • VCC Diploma, Associate Degree, Bachelor Degree and Post-Degree Diplomas of 2 years or longer: These programs may be eligible for a PGWP for up to 3 years. The eligibility for PGWP is under the discretion of IRCC reviewing your file.

For the full list of VCC programs, refer to the program listing page.


VCC Documents, Graduation, and Application Timeline

You will need the following documents from VCC to apply for your PGWP: 

  • VCC Program Completion Letter 
  • VCC Electronic Transcript 

Program Completion Letter and Electronic Transcript

Once you have successfully completed your program and all of your grades have been entered by your instructors, the Graduation Audit will begin. Please note that this can take up to 6 weeks to complete. If you are eligible to graduate, you will be awarded the credential and automatically receive your Program Completion letter and your electronic transcript by email from ieservices@vcc.ca. You can use both documents to submit your PGWP application. If you have a hold on your account, you will not automatically receive these documents. Please rectify your hold and contact ieservices@vcc.ca to receive these documents. 


VCC Official Transcript

You can use your electronic transcript for your PGWP application. You don’t need to use the official transcript. However, if you want an official transcript for your records the Registrar’s Office will issue this document. You can request for your official transcript online through your myVCC account or visit the Records Office page to understand the alternatives for requesting  it as well as payment options.  

To receive your VCC official transcript and final awarded credentials by mail, you must ensure your local address is up to date on your myVCC student account portal. Check the tutorial on How to Update your Contact Information Online and ensure you update your address before graduation. 




International students have up to 180 days after graduation to apply for a PGWP. However, it is highly recommended that they apply within 90 days of receiving the program completion letter or before the study permit expires, whichever comes first, as this may grant eligibility for full-time work until a decision is made on the PGWP application. 

A study permit is typically valid for the duration of your study program, plus an extra 90 days. The study permit becomes invalid either on the expiry date indicated on the permit or 90 days after you receive written confirmation of program completion, whichever occurs first. 

It's crucial not to let your study permit expire while awaiting your final grades and graduation. To cover the period you're waiting for graduation, you must ensure that your study permit remains valid. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) typically issues study permits for the duration of the study program, plus an extra 90 days to accommodate for this waiting period. 

Applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) without a valid study permit means you cannot start working until your PGWP application is processed and approved by IRCC. Should your study permit expire, you are given up to 90 days to apply for a PGWP and to restore your status as a student. 



Working Before and After you apply for a PGWP

You can only apply for a PGWP once your VCC Program Completion Letter (graduation letter) and your Electronic Transcript becomes available. 

  1. Before you receive your Program Completion Letter, you are still considered a VCC international student. You may be able to work on-campus and work off-campus as long as you have had work eligibility while studying and you have a valid study permit. 
  2. Once you receive your Program Completion Letter, you must stop working immediately. You are no longer authorized to continue to work in Canada, as you no longer meet the eligibility criteria as a study permit holder under paragraph R186(v). 
  3. After you receive your Program Completion Letterand submit your PGWP application within 90 days, you may be able to start working full-time if you meet all the eligibility criteria:
    • had a valid study permit at the time of the PGWP application submission,
    • had completed your program of study,
    • were eligible to work off-campus without a work permit and
    • did not work off-campus for more than 20 hours a week during academic sessions (unless meeting the IRCC criteria of off-campus work under the new temporary policy). 

If you were eligible to work full-time immediately after submitting your PGWP application, you retain the right to work in Canada even if your study permit becomes invalid during the processing of your PGWP application. This right to work is granted under paragraph R186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations until a decision is made on your PGWP application.  

If your employer requires proof of your work eligibility while you wait for your PGWP to be processed, you may provide a copy of all documents listed on the IRCC website to show a potential employer you’re allowed to work. The list includes a copy of the acknowledgement of receipt from your PGWP application (if you applied online). 


How to Apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit

International students can apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) from inside or outside Canada. However, international students have up to 180 days after graduation to apply for a PGWP. 

VCC International students are encouraged to apply for a PGWP within 90 days of graduation with a valid study permit. After submitting the PGWP application, they may beeligible to work full-time. 

Please note that as of June 21, 2024, international students can no longer apply for a PGWP at a port of entry (airport, land or marine border) when entering Canada.

Once you apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, the online system will ask “Have you recently graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution for which your study program was full-time and a minimum of eight months?”. Selecting “Yes” to this question signals to the system that you have completed your studies and are seeking to apply for a PGWP. 

After answering all the questions from the online wizard, you will be provided with a personalized document checklist. The checklist will require you to upload the “Completion of Studies Letter” and “Recent Education Transcript”. Please upload your VCC Program Completion Letter (graduation letter) and VCC Electronic Transcript (with confirmation of graduation) accordingly. 

Once your application is approved, you will receive a PDF letter in your IRCC secure account indicating that the original document will be mailed to the address you have provided. If your address has changed, ensure you update your address with IRCC through the webform. 

Please review the following documents for instructions on how to submit a post-graduation work permit application online from inside Canada: 

You may apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit from outside Canada: 

We encourage you to review Guide 5487 - Applying for a Work Permit Outside Canada for instructions. 

If you apply on paper, read the instruction guide based on the country you are submitting your PGWP application from. Once you select the country from where you are submitting your application, the system will generate a list of documents and forms you need to submit. Submit your completed application with all required documents and the fee receipt to the address given in the application package. 




Important Considerations

Review the following important considerations related to the post-graduation work permit.

If you're planning to travel outside Canada, it's crucial to consider that the processing time for graduation audits is up to 6 weeks. This audit must be completed before the Program Completion Letter and electronic transcript are issued. Without these documents, you will be ineligible to apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). We strongly advise submitting your PGWP application before leaving Canada to ensure a smooth transition. 

After applying for a PGWP,  you may be able to leave and return to Canada before the decision is made on your PGWP application as long as you have a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Please visit the IRCC Help Centre for more details.  

Effective May 1, 2022, the Medical Services Plan (MSP) policy will be updated so that individuals who remain in B.C. with maintained status will have access to temporary MSP coverage until a decision is made by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on their application for extension. 

Who is eligible 
The spouse or common-law partner of an international student, who has graduated from a recognized institution and qualifies for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), could also qualify for an open work permit if they meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit AND you (the main applicant): 

  • Are authorized to work in Canada 
  • Are employed or will be employed in a job that falls under category 0, 1, 2, or 3 of the Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) in the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system when the family member applies 
  • Have a work permit valid for at least six months after the family member's application is received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) 
  • Are living or plan to live in Canada while working 


When to apply: 

When you apply for your PGWP, your family member may also submit their application online at the same time, on the condition that they have arrived in Canada and meet the eligibility requirements for a work permit upon entry. 

Should they opt to apply for an open work permit after your PGWP application has been filed, they are permitted to do so even if you are awaiting a decision on your PGWP or if you are employed without a work permit while transitioning from a full-time student to a PGWP holder. However, it is important to note when applying after the initial PGWP submission: 

  • The processing of your family member's open work permit application is contingent upon the approval of your PGWP. 
  • If the decision on your PGWP is still pending by the time their application is assessed, there is a risk that the open work permit application may be refused. 

They can also choose to apply after you receive your PGWP. Please note that your family member’s open work permit won’t be valid longer than your PGWP. 


Documents to prepare: 

As a PGWP holder, to support your family member’s open work permit application, you may need to provide the following: 

  • Evidence of a genuine relationship with your family member, and 
  • Proof that you can or will be legally authorized to work in Canada. This is not required if you and your family member apply at the same time or if you are a PGWP holder. 
  • Proof that you can work in Canada for at least 6 months after IRCC receives the family member’s work permit application. This is also not required if you and your family member apply at the same time, and 
  • Proof that you are or will be working in an occupation in eligible TEER category of the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system such as a letter from your employer that either confirms you are employed or offers you a job. This letter must include your employment details, your occupation, a description of your duties, and the specific NOC or TEER category under which your job is classified.  

You may be employed part-time. Although there is no standard minimum of hours required, IRCC officers have to be satisfied that your wages or funds will be sufficient to financially support yourself and your family members while in Canada. 

How to apply: 

When submitting your application for an open work permit online along with your family member's application, it's essential to provide accurate responses to specific questions to ensure both applications are processed together. 

Firstly, when asked if you intend to include a family member's application with yours, select "Yes" for the question "Do you want to submit an application for a family member?" 

Secondly, for the question "Why is your family member visiting Canada?" choose the option "Work with an Open Work Permit." 

Correctly answering these questions activates the system to generate the appropriate document checklists for your family member under your application, ensuring streamlined processing of both applications. 

IRCC Temporary Policy:  

On December 2, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a temporary policy set to begin on January 30, 2023. This policy, effective for two years, extends the eligibility for open work permits to include the spouses and working-age children of certain work permit holders under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). Specifically, family members of the main applicant who are employed in a job categorized under the category 4 or 5 of TEER (high-wage stream only) in the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system, can now also apply for an open work permit. “High-wage stream” refers to positions with wages at or above the provincial or territorial median hourly wage.  



Next Steps

Review your post-graduation work permit to ensure all your information is correct. It is recommended that you make a copy of it and store the original in a safe place.  

Renew your Social Insurance Number (SIN). 

Renew your Medical Services Plan (MSP). 

Apply for a new Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to re-enter Canada (if applicable). 

Visit the VCC Career Guidance page to help you prepare your Resume and Cover Letter. 


The content on this page reflects the information available at the time of its publication. It is important to acknowledge that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and other government departments regularly revise their policies. For the latest information, please visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. 

Latest Updated: May 26, 2024