Canada’s Post-Graduate Work Permit is now revised to narrow access for international graduates

The Canadian government is actively considering revising the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program specifically to narrow access to the PGWP and align it with specific labor needs.

This was previously hinted in announcements regarding international education sector reforms and revealed in a document shared with provinces and educational institutions.

According to a document from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) seen by Nairametrics, the intent of these consultations is “to align PGWP eligibility with labour market needs while reducing the overall volume of PGWP holders, and increasing the likelihood that international students have labour market outcomes commensurate with their education and training.”

This adjustment would significantly alter the current PGWP scheme, which allows all international graduates from publicly funded higher education programs to work in any sector without restrictions.

How IRCC is acting on PGWP

The IRCC is now seeking feedback on which occupations should be eligible for the PGWP in different regions, whether any student groups should be exempt from these changes citing examples like French-speaking students or those with graduate degrees and whether additional requirements such as proof of a job offer in a designated shortage occupation or language proficiency should be necessary for PGWP eligibility beyond one year.

Additionally, IRCC is inquiring whether these changes should affect all graduates as soon as they are announced, or if there should be a ‘grandfathering’ approach allowing current students to remain eligible under existing guidelines.

The government is also exploring whether the proposed changes would meet the long-term workforce needs of various jurisdictions and if provinces can provide a feasible path to permanent residency for international graduates with job offers in critical sectors.


Earlier this year, IRCC already implemented a significant change to the PGWP by discontinuing eligibility for students at public-private partnership colleges and capping post-secondary study permits below the master’s degree level.

The Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller noted these measures were necessary as the rapid increase in international students had placed undue pressure on housing, healthcare, and other services.

The potential for post-study work opportunities has been a major draw for international students in Canada.

Study permit in its numbers

Historically, Canada has been highly rated in surveys for its post-study work rights and pathways to permanent residency, with a 2021 survey by the Canadian Bureau for International Education showing that 72.5% of 41,512 international students at 67 post-secondary institutions intended to apply for a post-graduate work permit.

By the end of 2023, there were 1,040,985 study permit holders, marking a 29% increase from the previous year and a 63.2% rise from the 637,780 holders in 2019, pre-pandemic.


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