IRCC Working On 8 New PGWP Changes For International Students

Woman Standing in Hallway While Holding Book

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is surveying 8 possible changes that are considered for the Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program for international students.

These new reforms are being considered to align international students with labour market needs “while reducing the overall volume of PGWP holders.”

These new changes to eligibility criteria are being considered to be implemented for international students already in Canada as well as future cohorts.

The PGWP program has been an important component in attracting international students since it provides work opportunities after the completion of a study program.

However, Canada has made major changes to the program this year to crack down on abuse of the system and now a new 8-point survey has surfaced, indicating that further refinement of this program is under consideration.

Based on questions asked in the survey to colleges and universities, it looks like students would be required to complete programs that are associated with labour shortages and satisfy new language requirements in order to qualify for PGWP after completing their study.

This would suggest programs that are designed to satisfy the educational prerequisites of the positions that are anticipated to experience labour shortages in the future.

Study programs would be classified in accordance with Canada’s national occupational classification (NOC), as indicated by the 8-point survey.

For instance, carpenters would be assigned to one of three disciplines of study: construction trades, carpentry, or woodworking/general.

Question 1: If PGWP eligibility were restricted based solely on occupations in shortage and corresponding programs of study, which occupations should be included based on the needs in your area? Please indicate if there are any occupations in shortage that should have been reflected in the mapping document, along with your rationale.

The first question asks if there are any other jobs that need to be added to the list if occupation-specific eligibility criteria are set in addition to the ones that IRCC and ESDC have already mapped using the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) system.

One part of this survey does suggest that study programs corresponding to occupations eligible for category-based selections in the Express Entry draw are more likely to be there.

After hearing back from educational institutions in different provinces, IRCC is expecting to reach a consensus on adding new occupations in demand, in addition to the ones already listed by ESDC and IRCC, as well as those that are already eligible for Express Entry targeted draws.

Question 2: What, if any, cohorts should be exempted from these changes, such as francophone students, graduate degree programs, or others?

Please indicate the rationale.
The second question of the survey is anticipated to be aimed at deciding exemptions if new PGWP eligibility criteria are set, such as for students with a high level of French proficiency or certain degree programs.

This is somewhat similar to what we have already seen in PGWP changes, like favouring Masters and PhD program graduates by giving 3-year PGWP irrespective of the duration of their study program.

However, new proposed changes are aimed at determining whether occupation-based study program eligibility criteria for PGWP should exempt certain degree programs or be based on fluency in the French language.

Question 3: Should international students be required to demonstrate proof of a job offer aligned with the occupational shortage list in order to hold a PGWP beyond one year?

This question is aimed at solving the issue of the increase in temporary residents, mostly PGWP holders, in Canada.

If this condition is added to the PGWP eligibility criteria, then students will have to submit proof of a job offer in order to continue working on PGWP.

This seems not to be universal, but only for study programs that will be aligned with the occupational shortage list mentioned in the first question.

Question 4: Should any other eligibility criteria (language, provincial support, etc.), apart from a job offer, be applied to PGWP holders seeking to extend their permit past one year?

This is the expansion of eligibility further to question number 3.

It suggests that students may be required to submit another language proficiency test and/or provincial approval to continue working on PGWP after the first year.

Question 5: What is your view of applying these labour market-based changes to PGWP eligibility to all graduates upon announcement this year, rather than grandfathering students who are already studying in Canada at the time of implementation?

The fifth is an important point that is kind of hanging a sword around the necks of existing students already in Canada who are currently enrolled in a study program.

This question indicates that labour market-based changes to PGWP eligibility could be announced this year and the immigration department is considering whether to exempt existing students or not.

Usually, any new government policy would exempt existing cohorts, but it looks like Minister Miller is ready to take a hard step.

Question 6: How often should the occupational shortage list be revised, and at what point thereafter should it be applied to students whose studies are underway?

This seems like a self-explanatory question since labour market needs keep changing.

The department is asking stakeholders to determine the frequency of revisions of occupations in demand and when they should be effective.

For example, this occupation list should be revised annually, every two years, or every 3 years.

And once the list is revised, at what point should it be implemented for students pursuing their studies? like effective from next semester or effective after 6 months of the generation of a new list.

Question 7: Do changes to the PGWP being explored align with the profiles of candidates you’d like to remain working in your jurisdictions in the long term?

This survey question is aimed at determining whether the new eligibility criteria for post graduation work permits will be able to retain students in the region or province of the educational institution for the long term.

Question 8: Is your PNP positioned to offer a viable pathway to permanent residence for international graduates with job offers in these key sectors? Are there any gaps between the labour market needs you have identified and your PNP’s existing streams? Will any PNP stream amendments be required to ensure they remain responsive to graduates and PGWP holders in specific occupations (e.g., regulated occupations)?

Question number 8 of this survey seems to ensure that students are set up for a pathway to permanent residency and are proactively aligned with the eligibility requirements of the provincial nominee program (PNP) of a particular province.

It is also to determine if existing PNP streams are optimally calibrated according to the labour market needs of the province and need reforms for certain occupations, such as regulated professions that require licensing.

This is a good initiative to at least have foreign students set up for success by increasing the odds of transitioning from temporary residency to permanent residency.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top