Online courses started before study permit approval count toward PGWP

International students who have to study online due to coronavirus closures will not be penalized when applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

The time that international students spend studying online from outside Canada now counts toward a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

When Canada initially relaxed the PGWP requirements to include online study as part of the eligibility criteria, it only counted after international students were approved for their study permit.

Now the time international students put into their courses before getting their study permit counts as long as their program starts in 2020. They also have to apply for the study permit before September 15 and at least half of their program must be completed in Canada.

Up until December 31, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will not deduct the study time completed outside Canada from the length of the PGWP.

Canada’s immigration department has made sweeping changes to the eligibility criteria for the PGWP in light of the challenges international students face while trying to complete their studies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Among these challenges is the transition from in-person classes to online study. Before the pandemic hit, the PGWP only recognized in-person classes. This is no longer viable with so many Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) switching to online courses.

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If you haven’t applied for a study permit yet

Most international students must apply for their study permits online as ports of entry are not issuing visas during the pandemic.

Canada will accept incomplete applications for study permits. The new two-step study permit system allows international students to start studying without being fully equipped with a study permit. The full study permit, which will eventually be needed if international students want a PGWP, will be issued once all documents are submitted and the application is approved.

How a PGWP can lead to permanent residence

The PGWP gives international student graduates the opportunity to work in Canada for up to three years after the end of their study program.

PGWP holders can use all their years of Canadian experience toward an application for immigration. Most immigrants to Canada go through economic-class immigration where Canadian work and study experience are highly valued toward an application in the Express Entry system.

Express Entry manages applications for Canada’s three Federal Skilled Immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class.

PGWP holders can be eligible for any one of these programs depending on their experience. They must first submit a profile into the Express Entry system and become an Express Entry candidate.

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Measures in place to support international students in Canada

Express Entry candidates are given a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Candidates are ranked based on factors that the Canadian government has determined will support the labour market. Points are awarded based on a candidate’s age, work experience, education, and language ability in English or French.

The highest-scoring candidates are issued an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence through an Express Entry draw. The next draw is expected to happen this week, based on how the government has been holding draws about every two weeks this year.

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