Post-Graduation Work Permit

Don't Get Denied! Understanding Post-Graduation Work Permit Refusals In Canada

Post Graduation Work Permit Refusals

Are you a recent post-secondary graduate who is looking to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in order to work and live in Canada? Applying for a PGWP can be a complicated process and understanding the reasons why an application can be refused can help you avoid some serious trouble.

Trust us, we’ve seen it all.

What is a Post Graduation Work Permit?

A Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) is a temporary open work permit that allows international students who have completed a study program at a designated learning institution in Canada, to gain Canadian work experience for up to three years. With a PGWP, individuals are allowed to work in any job, in any Canadian city, and for any Canadian employer. In order to obtain a PGWP, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having completed a study program that is at least 8 months in length and has the primary goal of obtaining a degree, diploma or certificate.

If an international student meets all of the eligibility requirements, they can apply for a PGWP when their studies are complete. Applications submitted must include evidence of their completion of an eligible program as well as other supporting documents. If an application is approved, the applicant will receive a PGWP that is valid for up to three years.

However, if an individual’s application is refused, they may not be eligible for a PGWP at all. In some cases, there may be avenues for appealing the refusal. It is important that any applicant understand why their application was refused in order to determine the best course of action for them. Common reasons for PGWP refusal include failure to meet the program requirements, failure to provide sufficient documentation, being enrolled in the wrong program or school, having previously been issued a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), missing the window in order to apply, or being a part-time student in any term other than the final academic semester.

Who is Eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit?

If you are a recent graduate of a Canadian institution, you may be eligible to apply for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Understanding who is eligible for a PGWP is important for recent graduates, as the issuance of a PGWP allows you to stay in Canada for up to an additional three years on an open work authorization, and provides a valuable window of opportunity to gain Canadian work experience which can be used to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence (through programs such as Express Entry - CEC or the Provincial Nominee Program)

In order to be eligible for a PGWP, there are a few criteria to meet: First, you must have obtained a degree, diploma or certificate from an eligible school. Second, you must hold or have held a valid study permit or equivalent document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) within 180 days of the date of application. Third, you must have completed a program of study of at least eight months in length and led to a degree, diploma or certificate. Fourth, you must have maintained full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of your program, with the exception of your final academic semester or during an authorized leave of studies. Lastly, you must have received a transcript and an official letter confirming that you have met the requirements to graduate.

It is important to note that applicants who have completed programs under certain government funding or programs, other than through student loans, are generally not eligible for a PGWP (ex. Government of Canada Awards Program or Equal Opportunity Scholarship). Furthermore, individuals who have completed the majority of their program through distance learning or who completed a program of study delivered by a non-Canadian institution located inside of Canada are generally not eligible for a PGWP.  Finally, applicants who have failed or been expelled from their program of study, or who do not meet the academic requirements of their program may be refused a PGWP.

Refusal Ground #1 - Ineligible School or Program

In order to be eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), the school you obtained your degree or diploma from must not only be a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), but also offer PGWP-eligible programs. If your school is not on the DLI list, then your application will automatically be refused.

The rules for which schools are eligible use to be quite complicated, but IRCC has simplified this process by providing a searchable database here.  Search by the name of the school.  It will list one of three options:

  1. Offers PGWP-eligible Programs (No)
  2. Offers PGWP-eligible Programs (Yes)
  3. Offers PGWP-eligible Program (Yes, details)

If the school lists “Yes (details)”, you must click on the “details” link and it will take you to a new page which lists which specific programs are eligible for PGWPs at that school.

If the school is listed as “No”, it means that there are no eligible programs at that school for PGWP.  Conversely, if the school is listed as “Yes”, it means that generally, most, if not all programs at the school are eligible for PGWPs, provided that the programs meet general PGWP eligibility.

A screenshot of the IRCC searchable DLI database showing which schools offer PGWP-eligible programs
An example screenshot of the IRCC searchable DLI List

It is important that you can verify with 100% certainty that the school and program you are enrolled in is eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit program or your PGWP application will be refused.

Refusal Ground #2 - Not Full-Time Status in Final Semester

Although studying at a Canadian post-secondary institution is a great way to get permanent residence in Canada, it's important to remember that studying on a student visa does not guarantee you a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). In order for you to be eligible for a PGWP, you must have maintained full-time status throughout your final semester of study.  This is commonly misunderstood and a huge shock to students when their application is refused on these grounds.

It is very important for you to remember that if you do not maintain full-time status during their final semester, your application for a PGWP is likely to be refused, as you have failed to meet the criteria for eligibility. This is a little-known requirement by many international students, who, as soon as they have completed their degree or diploma, assume that they can apply for a PGWP.

The only exception to this rule is if you were part-time in your final semester only or during a period of authorized leave.  Commonly, graduating students may only need to complete 1 or 2 courses in their final semester, and if you were full-time in all other academic semesters, your PGWP application will not be refused on this ground alone.

Refusal Ground #3 - Having previously been issued a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

A student is only eligible for one Post-Graduation Work Permit in their lifetime.  What happens sometimes is that students complete a program, get a PGWP, fail to transition to Permanent Residence, and then try and head back to school in order to re-qualify for a second PGWP.  This is not possible and your application for a PGWP will be refused if you try and apply for a second time after having already been issued one previously.

Refusal Ground #4 - Not meeting 180-day Study Permit Criteria

Your PGWP application will be refused if, within 180 days of the date of making your PGWP application, you do not meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Hold a valid Study Permit
  2. Held a valid Study Permit
  3. Authorized to study in Canada without a Study Permit pursuant to R188(1)(a) and (b)

The requirement previously is that your PGWP application needed to have been submitted within 90 days of graduating, but those rules were recently changed to reflect a new application window and rules, which we see as being more lenient in the event of a refusal or returned application.

Requesting Reconsideration of the Refusal

For international students who have had their Canadian Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) refused, there is the option to request a reconsideration of the refusal, although it is not an official channel to remedy the issue. Generally, an objection must be made in writing as soon as possible after receiving the refusal. The request, generally submitted through Webform, should include a detailed explanation of why the refusal should be reconsidered by citing specific facts and proof to support the claim. This usually includes documentation to prove that you have, in fact, met all eligibility requirements, such as transcripts, diplomas, or detailed letters of explanation surrounding a leave of absence or part-time studeies.  Mistakes do happen, and we’ve seen them.

If the reconsideration of the refusal is accepted, the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) will be issued to you directly. If the reconsideration is rejected, you have the option to file for Judicial Review of the decision in Federal Court. If there is still time remaining in the 180-day eligibility window, there is also the option of re-applying with the amended information.

Requesting for Judicial Review

If your Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) application has been refused, you have the right to file a request for a judicial review of the refusal decision. A judicial review is a court process where the court reviews the reasons for the refusal and considers whether the refusal was justified or not.

To request a judicial review of a PGWP refusal, you must file a Notice of Application for Leave and for Judicial Review with the Federal Court of Canada. To be effective, the Notice of Application for Leave and for Judicial Review must be filed within 15 days of receiving the refusal decision.

When the Notice of Application for Leave and for Judicial Review is filed, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will have to respond. The Minister’s response will be known as the Record of the Minister and must be filed with the court within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Application for Leave and for Judicial Review.

The Federal Court will then set a date for the judicial review. At the judicial review, the applicant must provide evidence to show that the decision to deny their PGWP was incorrect. The court will then consider the applicant’s evidence and the Minister’s response and make a decision.

It is important to remember that filing a request for judicial review of a PGWP refusal is a serious matter and should only be done if the applicant has strong evidence to support the application.


In conclusion, understanding post-graduation work permit refusals in Canada can be a complex process. However, it is an important process for those students who are looking to extend their stay and continue to work in Canada after graduation. Getting a post-graduation work permit can be tricky, as certain eligibility criteria must be met in order for the permit to be issued. A refusal can be a difficult situation and can be caused by a few reasons, such as being enrolled in an ineligible school or program, not being full-time in the final semester or missing the window to apply. However, those affected by the refusal of a post-graduation work permit do have some remedies to appeal the decision or to re-apply. It is advisable to consult with an immigration professional l if your post-graduation work permit has been refused, in order to make sure that your rights as an international student in Canada are adequately protected.

Can You Help Me?

Yes, we can and would love to. One of the simplest ways to ensure that your application for your PGWP is successful is to hire us to assess and verify your eligibility, prepare a comprehensive application, and to represent your PGWP application before IRCC.

Given the level of investment that was made into going to school in Canada, it only makes logical sense to ensure that your PGWP application goes off without a hitch.

You can check out our Full-Service Representation for Post-Graduation Work Permit Service here or you can simply consult with us during a scheduled 30-minute appointment.

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