Express Entry: Navigating Options as Your PGWP Expires

Express Entry: Navigating Options as Your PGWP Expires

Dec 18, 2023

As of December 7, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have issued crucial updates regarding Canada’s international student program, particularly in relation to Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders. It’s essential to delve into the recent developments to understand the implications and explore potential pathways for those navigating the Canadian immigration landscape.

The Evolution of PGWP Extensions

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC has been proactive in supporting PGWP holders by providing extensions. These extensions were a response to the unprecedented labor market disruptions and processing delays experienced during the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery. The extensions allowed PGWP holders to sustain their employment in Canada, providing a valuable bridge during uncertain times.

However, the recent announcement from IRCC signals a shift in this policy. Notably, IRCC confirmed that it would not be offering additional extensions to PGWP holders. This decision marks the conclusion of a series of extensions, with the most recent one, granted on April 6, providing an 18-month open work permit for those whose PGWP is set to expire on or before December 31, 2023.

Understanding Post-Graduation Work Permits

Post-Graduation Work Permits are a lifeline for international students graduating from Canadian institutions. These permits enable graduates to stay and work in Canada, gaining valuable Canadian work experience. The standard validity of PGWPs is determined by the duration of the candidate’s academic program. However, beyond the special extensions, these permits are typically not renewable.

In 2022, the significance of PGWPs in the immigration landscape was evident, with 98,000 PGWP holders transitioning to permanent residency. This constituted nearly 82% of all temporary residents who became permanent residents that year. It underscored the vital role PGWPs play in the integration of international students into the Canadian workforce.

Impact on Express Entry Candidates

Express Entry remains one of the most favored pathways for PGWP holders aspiring to attain permanent resident status in Canada. However, the cessation of PGWP extensions has raised concerns among candidates, especially those in the Express Entry pool whose PGWPs are approaching expiration.

The recent pause in Express Entry draws, spanning from October 26 to December 6, has added another layer of complexity. Candidates without Invitations to Apply (ITAs) face the challenge of losing their eligibility to work in Canada, as the pause in draws impedes their ability to apply for permanent resident status or maintained status during the processing of their application by IRCC.

While IRCC did conduct three draws between December 6 and December 8, including category-based selection draws, the uncertainties created by the pause highlight the importance of exploring alternative options for Express Entry candidates.

Exploring Options for Express Entry Candidates

Express Entry candidates facing the expiration of their PGWPs have several options to consider. Understanding these alternatives is crucial for a strategic and informed decision-making process:

  1. Visitor Record: Applying for a visitor record at least 30 days before the PGWP expires is a viable option. A visitor record typically has a validity of six months, though individual cases may vary.
  2. Apply for Another Work Permit: While waiting for an Express Entry draw, candidates can explore the possibility of obtaining a new work permit. Despite the additional time and costs involved, candidates who wish to continue working can explore different types of Open Work Permits. Additionally, candidates can consider requesting their employers to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for a closed work permit, allowing them to continue working for the same employer.
  3. Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP): For candidates who have already submitted their application for permanent residence but await a final decision from IRCC, applying for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) is a potential avenue. BOWPs enable candidates to continue working in Canada while awaiting IRCC’s final decision. This option is applicable to those who have applied through various economic immigration programs, including Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), Quebec Skilled Workers, or the Agri-Food Pilot Program.

Looking Ahead

As the era of PGWP extensions concludes, Express Entry candidates must carefully evaluate these options to ensure a smooth transition while awaiting their immigration status in Canada. The evolving landscape requires adaptability and informed decision-making to navigate the complexities of the immigration process.

How Dev Immigration can help

Dev Immigration, as a dedicated immigration company, stands as a valuable ally for individuals navigating the complexities of the evolving Canadian immigration landscape, especially in light of recent changes to PGWP policies. Our team, led by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs), possesses in-depth knowledge of immigration processes and stays abreast of policy updates. For Express Entry candidates facing the expiration of their PGWPs, Dev Immigration offers tailored guidance and strategic solutions. Whether it’s exploring alternative work permits, understanding eligibility for bridging programs, or ensuring compliance with evolving regulations, our experts provide personalized assistance. Dev Immigration’s commitment is not just to facilitate immigration but to empower individuals with the information and support needed to make informed decisions on their journey to Canadian permanent residency.

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