Canadian Immigration News

International Graduates Granted Reprieve after Refusal of Post-Graduation Work Permit Applications  

Canadian Immigration newsA group of former international students whose applications for Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWPs) were refused are now able to re-submit their applications. Canada’s Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, has established a public policy to reconsider applications for three-year open work permits from certain graduates.

A PGWP is a Canadian open work permit targeted towards international graduates from eligible programs at recognized institutions in Canada. The permit allows the holder to work for any employer anywhere in Canada, and may be issued for up to three years.

This new public policy means that international graduates who meet certain conditions may apply again for a three-year open work permit and restoration of Temporary Resident status, in addition to having the related fees waived. Foreign nationals may be eligible for consideration if:

  • They were refused a PGWP between September 1, 2014 and March 15, 2016;
  • The reason for the refusal of the application was because the applicant completed the majority of the coursework by distance learning; and
  • The entirety of the applicant’s program of study, including transfer credits, was not considered before the application was refused on the grounds that the majority of coursework was by distance learning.

Eligible foreign nationals may apply from within Canada or from outside Canada. The fees associated with restoration of temporary resident status, work permit application, and open work permit holder applications are waived — these fees together usually come to a total of $455 CAD. In addition, the public policy waives the requirement to apply for a restoration of status within 90 days of the expiration of status. Consequently, eligible graduates who are in Canada without status may still apply.

Applications under this public policy must be made by March 17, 2017. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has committed to processing complete, eligible applications within 40 days.


n 2015, a group of students from Niagara College, Ontario, saw their applications for PGWPs refused because, according to the immigration officers examining the applications, the study programs were largely comprised of distance learning courses. While the immigration regulations state that a graduate is not eligible for a PGWP if he or she “participate[s] in a distance learning program either from abroad or from within Canada,” this condition is not explained further.

In December 2015, a judge ordered a judicial review of an application submitted by one of the affected graduates, which had been refused because five out of the six courses he took at Niagara College were deemed to be distance learning. However, as a student, the applicant had also taken courses at another college, and it appeared that the immigration officer had not taken these courses into consideration. The court ruled that all courses, including transferred credits, ought to be considered in the assessment of an applicant’s eligibility for a PGWP.

A group of these students filed a class-action lawsuit against Niagara College in the summer of 2015, alleging that the college misrepresented its general arts and science transfer program. They claim the college assured students that graduates from this program would be eligible for the PGWP, and that the college does not offer distance learning. However, numerous applications were denied on the grounds that distance learning courses were not considered eligible under the conditions of the PGWP regulations. No further developments in the lawsuit have been reported since the summer of 2015.