Can I get a Post-Graduation Work Permit if I took a term off?


The Question

What are my options for applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit if I missed a semester in my 1st year? I'm in 3rd year now. Can I still be eligible?

Polestar's response

Update: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has clarified the rule about whether a student is still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit if they take time off. The answer is no, they are not. It doesn't matter why the student missed a term, they do not qualify. In practice, some officers are continue to issue the Post-Graduate Work Permit to students who had to miss a term for a good reason, but the policy is that they should not. Old answer: Sometimes Canadian immigration law is not clear. This is one of those times. You can't get a PGWP if you have studied part-time, but the issue of taking a term off is muddier. Because it's unclear, we asked a selection of lawyers and regulated Canadian immigration consultants how they view the law on this issue. One lawyer believes that students are eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit as long as they study full-time without a break for the last eight months of their program. One lawyer believes that students may become ineligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit if they take a term off at any point in their diploma or degree program. One consultant believes that the government has indirectly approved terms away by allowing universities to list students on "authorized leave" on compliance report. She argues that this shows the government recognizes that students have not stopped their education if they must briefly leave to deal with illness, maternity leave or financial issues. One consultant said that students in her university are regularly granted a Post-Graduation Work Permit even though they have taken a term off. Vancouver immigration lawyer Will Tao wrote and excellent column about this complex issue. The law says that you must have a valid Study Permit at the time you apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. Section 220.1 (1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations requires that to keep your Study Permit, you must "remain enrolled at a designated learning institution" and "actively pursue" your program of study. The application guidelines for the Post-Graduate Work Permit require that you "have continuously studied full time in Canada ... and have completed a program of study that is at least eight months in duration" at the right kind of school. Those guidelines also state that you are not eligible if you "studied for more than eight months but not continuously (took a semester off)." Read our page on Post-Graduation Work Permits to understand more about this important step in immigration. We'll update this answer -- and let you know -- if IRCC clarifies the issue on its website, or if there is case law that clarifies the issue.  

Answered by Kelly Toughill, RCIC on October 20, 2017 Kelly Toughill, RCIC

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