Screen shot of bad information for international students

This advice from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is wrong. (Government of Canada website)


Important advice about the Post-Graduation Work Permit is wrong on the federal government website and should be ignored, a senior advisor with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has confirmed.

Recent graduates who travel after applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit can continue to work when they return to Canada, even if the Permit hasn’t yet been approved, said Baly Sarassoro, senior program manager in the International Student section of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“They can leave and come back and still be eligible to work, but they have to have a valid visa or a valid (electronic travel authorization),” Sarassoro told delegates to the annual conference of the Canadian Bureau of International Education.

That’s not what it says on the official federal government website, which warns that recent graduates can legally work as soon as they have applied for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, but they lose that right if they leave the country and return. The entry also warns recent graduates that they may be asked to show that they have enough money to support themselves when they try to cross back into the country.

“That’s not right,” said Sarassoro.

The issue affects more than 50,000 international students who apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit in Canada each year. Students who follow the website advice often delay returning home or traveling after graduation to make sure they are in compliance with Canadian immigration law when they start a new job.

The bad advice is published in the Help Centre, a section of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website that offers detailed answers to questions about visas, permits, permanent residency and other immigration matters. The Help Centre is a main source of legal information for many students, workers, refugees and others who rely on it to guide their immigration decisions.

Canadian law says that no one can enter Canada to work without first getting a Work Permit, but Sarassoro pointed out that there is a specific exemption that covers recent graduates who have applied for the Post-Graduation Work Permit.

The exemption is in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Section 186 (w) allows recent graduates to work in Canada if they applied for a Work Permit before their Study Permit expired, and section 8 (2) allows workers with a section 186 exemption to enter Canada to work even if they don’t have a Work Permit.

Sarassoro said it will take about two months to get the website information corrected.

The exemption for students who have applied for a Post-Graduation Work Permit should not be confused with the work rules for students who are on implied status while waiting for a new or extended Study Permit, he said.

“The work exemption is an exemption. It is not related to implied status.”

In most cases, students are allowed to continue to study and work after their Study Permit has expired if they have applied for a new Study Permit. In that case, students are on implied status and they lose the right to study or work if they leave Canada and return.

This article was updated Nov. 23, 2017

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