Canada’s Renewed International Student Program and the PGWP Criteria Upgrade

Discover how Canada is revitalizing the International Student Program and PGWP criteria to attract and support international students. Learn about IRCC’s transformative changes.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced a series of changes to the International Student Program (ISP) and the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program, aimed at enhancing program quality, safeguarding students from fraudulent activities, and aligning the PGWP with evolving labor market needs.

Starting December 1, 2023, designated learning institutions (DLIs) will be required to directly verify each applicant’s letter of acceptance with IRCC. This enhanced verification process will help protect prospective students from letter-of-acceptance fraud and ensure that study permits are issued only based on genuine letters.

By the fall 2024 semester, IRCC will introduce a “recognized institution” framework that will benefit DLIs that demonstrate a high standard of services, support, and outcomes for international students. These DLIs will benefit from priority processing of study permits for their applicants.

In the coming months, IRCC will complete an assessment of the PGWP Program criteria and begin introducing reforms to better align it with the needs of the Canadian labor market, as well as regional and Francophone immigration goals. These reforms may include changes to the eligibility criteria, processing times, and work authorization conditions.

These changes are part of IRCC’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the ISP and the PGWP Program, and to ensuring that they continue to attract talented international students to Canada.

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Canada’s Renewed International Student Program

  1. Objective: Canada is recognized for its high-quality educational institutions, welcoming and diverse society, and opportunities for work or immigration after graduation. The International Student Program has faced challenges in ensuring integrity and protecting students from fraud​​. (Source)
  2. New Measures (Effective December 1, 2023):
    • Verification Process: Designated learning institutions (DLI) will need to confirm each applicant’s letter of acceptance directly with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This aims to protect students from letter-of-acceptance fraud​​. (Source)
    • “Recognized Institution” Framework: For the fall 2024 semester, a framework will be adopted for DLIs that offer superior services and support for international students. These DLIs will benefit from priority processing of study permits​​. (Source)
    • Post-Graduation Work Permit Program Assessment: IRCC will assess and introduce reforms to better align the program with the Canadian labor market and immigration goals​​. (Source)

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Enhanced Confirmation Process for Letters of Acceptance

In response to concerns surrounding counterfeit acceptance letters, the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will mandate that Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) promptly verify each applicant’s acceptance letter with the department.

This direct verification approach is intended to bolster the detection and prevention of fraudulent letters, thereby safeguarding students from potential misinformation and exploitation.

Recognized Institution Framework

In a strategic move to simplify and expedite the application process for prestigious educational institutions, the IRCC plans to adopt a “recognized institution” framework by the fall semester of 2024.

This framework is poised to provide DLIs with a range of benefits, such as priority processing of study permit applications.

Review of Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Criteria

The post-graduation work permit, a program designed for international students who’ve completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program, offers an invaluable opportunity to work in Canada.

This work experience is not only instrumental in their pursuit of Canadian permanent residency but also provides them with a deeper understanding of Canadian work culture, enhancing their skillset and boosting their chances in the job market.

Understanding the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

The post-graduation work permit is a highly beneficial program designed for international students who have successfully completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program.

With this program, they can obtain valuable work experience in Canada, a crucial step in their journey towards achieving Canadian permanent residency.

PGWP Criteria Upgrade

  1. Extended Work Permits (Announced March 17, 2023):
    • International graduates with an expiring or recently expired PGWP are now eligible for an additional or extended work permit for up to 18 months​​. (Source)
    • This extension, effective from April 6, 2023, helps retain high-skilled talent in Canada​​.
  2. Eligibility for Expired Permits:
    • Foreign nationals with PGWPs expired in 2023 or those eligible for the 2022 PGWP facilitative measure can apply for an additional 18-month work permit​​.
    • This includes restoration of status beyond the 90-day period and interim work authorization while awaiting new permit processing​​.
  3. Impact on Labor Market and Permanent Residency:
    • These graduates are integral to addressing Canada’s labor shortage. The extension allows them to continue contributing to the economy and prepares them for permanent residency opportunities​​.
  4. Facilitative Process and Policy Background:
    • Eligible PGWP holders will receive instructions to opt in and update personal information via their online IRCC Secure Account​​.
    • The policy draws from lessons learned in 2022, providing a pathway for eligible individuals to apply for an open work permit and restore their status​​.

These updates signify Canada’s commitment to enhancing the educational and professional experiences of international students, while addressing labor market needs and strengthening the integrity of its immigration programs.

PGWP Eligibility Criteria

To get a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada, international students need to meet these requirements:

1.     Finish a program at a recognized school in Canada that lasts at least eight months.

2.     Be a full-time student during the whole program.

3.     Get a document from your school proving you finished the program.

4.     Graduate from a school that’s known and approved by the government, whether it’s public or private.

PGWP Growth and Benefits

In the past few years, more and more international students are using the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

A study by Statistics Canada showed that from 2008 to 2018, the number of people with PGWPs kept going up. This program has many advantages, such as:

  • You can work in Canada to get Canadian work experience.
  • It might help you become a permanent resident of Canada.
  • Your work can also help the Canadian economy.


The updates from IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) show that they want to make sure the International Student Program is honest and keeps bringing in skilled international students.

They’re also looking at the PGWP rules to match them better with Canada’s job market and immigration plans, which is a good thing.

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