How to obtain a Canada Work Permit with a Master’s degree

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With its flexible rules and current policies, master’s students can stay back in Canada to work after their studies. This is good news for international students who desire to stay back in the country after their education. The Canadian system encourages students to work and remain in the country and this is possible with the acquisition of a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). Holders of this permit can stay back in Canada after their studies for as long as 3 years. Afterward, they can upgrade to a permanent residence status. 

Generally, Canada is one of the top study destinations for international students with prominent universities, adequate infrastructure, and quality education. If you desire to pursue your master’s degree and are still uncertain about the study destination, then you might just want to consider going to Canada. This blog explores the various ways you can acquire a postgraduate work permit in Canada after your studies. To access more informative pieces like this one, subscribe to our newsletter for notifications. 

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Also read: How To Obtain A U.S. Work Permit With A Master’s Degree

Why do you need a post-graduation work permit in Canada?

Before we explore how to option a PGWP, let’s see the reason why it’s important in the first place. We’ve listed out some of the reasons and benefits you stand to enjoy when you apply for a post-graduation work permit in Canada. 

  • One of the top benefits is the opportunity to apply for permanent residency through the PGWP. If you’re planning on relocating using the education route, then Canada is an excellent choice for you. 
  • The country has a growing economic structure and is home to top companies like Cisco Systems, Google, Microsoft, Nike, FedEx, etc. There are many opportunities you can harness after studying in the country. 
  • You have the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real-life experiences when provided the opportunity to work in the country. 
  • Finally, Canada has a low unemployment rate which guarantees that job seekers have high chances of getting jobs. Also, recent government policies have provided opportunities for STEM students to work in the country. 

Also read: Here’s All You Need To Know About Studying Abroad.

Types of Work Permits in Canada

For you to be able to live and work in Canada legally as an international student, you need a permit. The two types of work permit available in Canada after your master’s degree are: 

1. Employer-Specific Work Permits

The employer-specific work permits allow its holders to work based on the information provided in the document. This implies that holders of this work permit can only work with a specific employer and in one position through the duration of the permit. The predefined conditions on this document include the following: 

  • Name of employer
  • Duration of your work
  • Location of your work

2. Open Work Permits

On the contrary, holding an open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada except those who have been labeled as ineligible. This can be as a result of failing to comply with the stated rules in the country, International students who have completed their education and have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI)in Canada can apply for an open work permit. An example of an open work permit is the post-graduation work permit  (PGWP) for master’s students.

Also read: Finland Work Visa: Eligibility, Application Process, Types And FAQs

The Post Graduation Work Permit Explained

Obtaining a post-graduation work permit in Canada allows you the opportunity to live and work full-time in the country after you graduate from an institution of learning. With a post-graduation work permit, there are no restrictions on the type of jobs you can do and where you can work in the country. Consequently, applicants are only entitled to one permit in Canada in their lifetime after the completion of their studies in the country. 

Eligibility requirements 

Contrary to other types of work visas in other countries, you do not need a job offer before you can apply for a PGWP in Canada. However, there are some eligibility conditions you must fulfill and they include: 

  • Applicants must apply within 180 days after they receive their degree, diploma, transcript, or official letter from the school. 
  • Applicants must have graduated from a designated learning institute (DLI) to include: 
  • a public post-secondary institution which may include a college or university, trade or technical institution, or CEGEP (in Quebec).
  • a private post-secondary institution in Quebec that operates similarly to public institutions in Quebec.
  • a private/ public secondary or post-secondary institution in Quebec with a qualifying program of 900 hours or longer that leads to a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS) that can be less than 900 hours if combined with a DVS.
  • a Canadian private institution that is authorized to award Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degrees under provincial law.
  • Applicants must have completed an academic, vocational, or professional training program at an eligible institution with the duration being at least 8 months and lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • Applicants must have maintained full-time student status while studying in Canada during each academic session of the program.
  • Applicants must have received a transcript and an official letter from the DLI confirming that they have fulfilled the program requirements.
Applying outside Canada 

International students can apply for a PGWP from outside Canada. Instances like this may arise if the applicants have traveled back to their home country after the completion of their program. However, they must meet the above requirements and must provide additional documents that may be requested. 

Special Eligibility Cases

Sometimes, students may be eligible for a post-graduation work permit even when they do not meet all the requirements stated above. Some of these special cases include: 

  • If they have completed a study program in less time than the normal length of the program.
  • If they have an authorized leave from the study program.
  • If they get transferred from a non-DLI to a DLI the total time spent at the DLI is at least 8 months.
  • If the study program has an overseas component but the students earn a credit from a Canadian school.

Also read: Study & Work With A Postgraduate Diploma In Canada – All You Need To Know

Applying for a PGWP in Canada?

Application for a post-graduation work permit in Canada can be done online and offline respectively. The steps involved in the application include: 

  1. Visit the official Government of Canada immigration and citizenship website.
  2. Create a new account and select the type of work permit that you want to apply for.
  3. Complete and submit the form by filling in the correct information.
  4. Provide biometric details and pay the application and biometric fees.
  5. Prepare and attach the documents mentioned in the next section.

Also, keep in mind that you might be called for an interview or asked to provide any further documents or information. If your work permit is approved, you will get a letter to this effect that allows you to work in Canada, If you happen to be outside the country when you applied, you will have to show the letter to the officials to enable you to get your permit. 

Documents needed to apply for a PGWP

Below is the list of the documents you need to apply for a post-graduation work permit in Canada: 

  • Proof of identity such as a valid passport or travel document that guarantees you re-entry to the issuing country.
  • Two recent photographs of yourself and accompanying family members to fulfill the visa application photograph specification.
  • Proof of employment showing that you are eligible for the job.
  • Proof showing that you have completed your program of study which may include a final transcript and a supporting letter from the institution or notice of graduation.
  • A copy of Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) if you plan to work in Quebec.
  • Proof of relationship for accompanying family members such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, or Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409) depending on the situation.
  • Documents that are not issued in English or French must be accompanied by an English or French translation and a certified copy of the original document.
  • Appear to provide biometric information such as your fingerprints and photographs at a biometric collection service point.

Additionally, be ready to also provide any other documents that may be requested by the officials. 


You will be allowed to work in Canada while your PGWP is still processing if you have any of the following:

  • A valid study permit and have applied for a PGWP Canada within the first 90 days after your Letter of Completion became available.
  • Completed your program of study.
  • Were eligible to work off campus without a work permit while studying in Canada.
  • You didn’t work more than 20 hours during academic sessions.

What is the processing time of the PGWP?

Processing a post-graduation work permit can take as long as 108 days for both the online and offline applications. 

What is the Validity period of a PGWP?

The validity period of a post-graduation work permit in Canada is between 8 months to 3 years. It is majorly dependent on the duration of your study program in the country. 

Also Read: A Step-By-Step Guide To Selecting The Right Study Abroad Program.

What To Do If Passport Expires Before PGWP?

It is important to note that when applying for a post-graduation work permit in Canada, you must ensure that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your PGWP. However, if your passport expires before your PGWP:

  • You will be issued a PGWP that’s valid only until your passport expires.
  • You will be told by the immigration authorities if your passport needs to be extended for full validity.

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MPower Finance and Prodigy Finance are some of the best student loan providers for international students. They also do not require a cosigner or collateral before an application. Reach out to us today, and let’s help you begin the process. 


  • Mercy Awofiranye is a creative writer with over five years of experience. Currently, she specializes in creating helpful content for students in the education space. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and learning new things.