Post-graduation work permit

COVID-19 FAQ for international students

Find out how COVID-19 impacts immigration, work eligibility, and health insurance.

Read the FAQ

What is a post-graduation work permit?

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows you to remain in Canada and work full time after you complete a certificate, diploma or degree that is at least 8 months in length.

You don’t need a job offer to apply and can work anywhere in Canada in any occupation, even if it’s unrelated to your studies. The only exceptions are jobs at risk of exploitation or jobs which require a medical exam, such as working in school or health care settings.

Why should I apply?

A PGWP is a practical way to apply what you’ve learned at UBC, advance your professional goals and gain Canadian work experience, which you might need to qualify for certain permanent resident programs.

In general, it can be difficult to qualify for other types of Canadian work permits.

If you are unsure if you will stay or return to Canada after studies, consider applying for the PGWP in case your plans change since you will lose the opportunity to apply after 180 days. You do not need to reside in Canada or hold a job at all times to keep the work permit valid.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible for a PGWP, you must have:

  • Completed a program of study that lasted at least eight months and led to a degree, diploma or certificate
  • Studied full-time each academic session without taking time away from studies. This does not include scheduled program breaks, such as winter break or summer break for undergraduate students.
  • Completed at least 50% of your program in Canada, which is calculated based on the number of courses completed in Canada
  • Completed at least 50% of your program in-person

You’re still eligible for the PGWP if:

  • You studied part-time in your final academic session only
  • You took an authorized gap in studies for less than 150 days
  • You were eligible for the temporary policies in place until December 31, 2021 which allow courses moved online due to COVID-19 to count towards the length of your PGWP as well as permit more than 50% of studies to be completed online or outside of Canada. See the following FAQs for details on eligibility:
    • New students who began a program between Summer Session 2020 (May – August, 2020) and Winter Term 1 2021 (September – December, 2021)
    • Continuing students who began a program in Winter Term 2 2019 (January – April, 2020) or earlier

See full eligibility details from the Government of Canada website.

If you are not eligible for the PGWP, learn about the different options you have after completing your studies at UBC.

If you have ever taken time away from studies or studied part-time, draft a letter of explanation and gather supporting documents then consult with International Student Advising before submitting your application.

PGWP length

The length of the work permit ranges from a minimum of 8 months to a maximum of 3 years based on the official length of your program, not the amount of time spent completing program requirements. If you complete a 4 year undergraduate degree, you are eligible for a 3 year PGWP.

If you are a graduate student, request a customized Letter of Completion which indicates the length of your program. If your graduate program has a flexible time frame, such as 12-24 months, request that your letter indicates the number of credits and/or speaks to the intensive nature of your program, draft a letter of explanation, and contact International Student Advising for support.

If you are enrolled while you are outside of Canada

If you go on exchange abroad, have an international co-op/practicum/internship or other work required for your program, conduct research abroad, or are taking online classes outside Canada, studies outside Canada might not count towards the length of your PGWP, even if you are full-time for immigration purposes. You must complete at least 50% of your program in Canada and study full-time continuously (even outside of Canada) to be eligible for a PGWP.

If your courses moved online due to COVID-19, online courses completed inside or outside Canada during the pandemic will not impact the length or your eligibility for the PGWP as long as you meet eligibility criteria for the temporary policies (see ‘Am I eligible to apply’ above).

When should I apply?

You can only apply after your Letter of Completion is available, which confirms that you have completed all program requirements. A letter stating you will soon complete your requirements is not sufficient. The date your Letter of Completion first becomes available is different from your degree conferral, diploma, and graduation ceremony.

Further studies

PGWPs are issued only once in a lifetime. While it is possible to have both a PGWP and a study permit, if you have plans to continue studying in Canada, you may wish to apply after you have completed your second program to make full use of your work permit. If each program is eligible for the PGWP, you can apply based on the length of both programs, so long as you complete the second program within 2 years of completing your first program.

You must extend your study permit before it becomes invalid. If you are waiting for a letter of acceptance for your next program and need assistance with your timeline contact International Student Advising for support. You may be eligible to maintain status between programs as well as work off-campus between programs.

How do I get my Letter of Completion?

Depending on your faculty or program, you may need to apply for graduation, request your letter, or it may be issued automatically.

Usually your Letter of Completion will be available shortly after completing your last program requirement, such as receiving your final grade or submitting your thesis.

Typically, you can access it in the Student Services Centre (under ‘Grades and Records’) or it may be emailed to you from your program or faculty.

If you’re not sure when your Letter of Completion will first become available or how to request or get it, contact an Academic Advisor or Graduate Program Staff.

After you have completed program requirements, be sure to check every day to see if your Letter of Completion stating you have completed all program requirements has become available and save a copy when you first access it. You must stop working immediately as soon as your Letter of Completion first becomes available unless one of the following applies:

  • You apply immediately for your PGWP, and do so within 90 days of program completion with a valid study permit (see “Can I work while I am applying for PGWP” below)
  • You are beginning a new program of study and meet all criteria

After your Letter of Completion first becomes available, you may only apply for the PGWP within a certain time period.

Within 90 days after your letter of completion becomes available

Apply before your study permit expires.

If your study permit expires before your Letter of Completion will become available or within the 90 days after your letter first becomes available but you won’t have enough time to apply for your PGWP before it expires, apply to extend your study permit for an additional 90-day bridging period. Apply well in advance, ideally four months before your study permit expires. Include a letter of explanation stating you are extending your study permit to apply for the PGWP.

Having a valid study permit at the time of application is one of the requirements to be eligible to work full-time after submitting your PGWP application online.

Within 180 days after your letter of completion becomes available

Your study permit becomes invalid 90 days after your Letter of Completion first becomes available, even if the expiry date on your study permit is several months later.

If you don’t apply for the PGWP within 90 days of your Letter of Completion becoming available with a valid study permit, before the 90 day period is over or before your study permit expires (whichever comes first) you must:

You must submit your application for the PGWP within 180 days of your Letter of Completion first becoming available, inside or outside of Canada. Your study permit must have been valid within the 180 day period before you apply for the work permit, which could mean your timeline to apply for the PGWP may be sooner than the 180 day period after receiving your Letter of Completion.

If you haven’t submitted an immigration application or you did not leave Canada before your study permit became invalid, contact International Student Advising for support.

Can I work while I am applying for the PGWP?

Working before you apply

If you are eligible to work in your final term, you can continue working up to 20 hours a week off campus and/or full time on campus until your Letter of Completion becomes available.

Once your Letter of Completion first becomes available, you’re no longer eligible to work and must stop working immediately until further action is taken.

If you are working after finishing your last program requirement, such as your last final exam, it is important that you check whether or not your letter becomes available every day to avoid working after it has been issued. If accessing your letter in the SSC, save a copy of the PDF letter when it first becomes available.

If you’ve worked after your Letter of Completion became available but before you’ve applied for the PGWP, contact International Student Advising for assistance.

Working after you’ve applied

After submitting your PGWP application online, you may immediately begin working full-time while your application is being processed if at the time you submit your application:

  • You have a valid study permit and apply within the first 90 days after your Letter of Completion first became available, and
  • You have completed your program of study, and
  • You were eligible to work off campus without a work permit during your studies, and
  • You did not work off campus for more than 20 hours per week during academic sessions.

If you apply while you are on implied status for your study permit extension, you will not be able to work in Canada until you receive a valid PGWP. Alternatively, you could wait for your study permit to be processed before applying for the PGWP then you would be able to work after submitting your application if you meet the above criteria, as long as you still apply within 90 days after program completion.

To avoid a gap in work eligibility between receiving your Letter of Completion and applying for the PGWP, prepare your PGWP application in advance so that you can apply as soon as your letter becomes available. You can work continuously if you apply the same day your Letter of Completion first becomes available.

If you plan to work in a job which requires a medical exam, you cannot start working in that position until you’ve received your work permit with correct conditions, however if you meet the above criteria you can work in other jobs which don’t require a medical exam while you are waiting for your work permit.

What happens when you finish UBC (pdf)

If you have dependents

Be sure to extend your dependent’s documents before they expire. There are additional criteria you must meet before you can apply for or extend your spouse/common-law partner’s work permit while on a PGWP, namely you must have at least 3 payslips in a high skilled position (NOC 0, A or B). Contact International Student Advising for support.

Learn about a work permit for your spouse or partner

Learn about inviting friends and family to visit

Ready to apply?

If you are in Canada

So long as you apply before your study permit becomes invalid and within 90 days after your Letter of Completion becomes available, you’ll be able to remain in Canada on implied status until a decision is made on your PGWP. Even if your study permit expires after you apply, you can still stay and work in Canada, if eligible. Make sure to request an MSP extension while you are waiting for your PGWP, since your MSP expires the same date your study permit expires.

You can continue to use the Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) you’ve received as a student until the expiry date, it does not become invalid if you’ve finished studies. If your TRV will expire, you will need to wait until your PGWP is approved then submit a separate application for a TRV.

If you will travel after applying or are outside of Canada

See our FAQ on the differences between applying for a PGWP from inside or outside of Canada.

Be sure to review our FAQ on travelling to Canada as a worker before making travel plans.

Go to post-graduate work permit tutorial

Before submitting your application

Contact and International Student Advisor to schedule an Application Review session to go over required documents, how to fill out the form, avoid common mistakes, get your questions answered and leave the session ready to click on ‘submit’.

Contact International Student Advising

After applying

If your contact information changes after submitting your application, be sure to update it via IRCC’s webform.

After receiving your PGWP:

While the PGWP is usually only available once in a lifetime, certain PGWP holders may be eligible for another open work permit valid up to 18 months. Applications must be submitted by July 27, 2021.

International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

View the guide

If you have questions

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Contact an advisor

The information on this page may change


The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.