NEXT STEPS AFTER GRADUATION: INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS
Last updated: JULY 30, 2020
As an international graduate student who has applied for graduation in Summer 2020, please carefully review the detailed information below regarding the post-graduation work permit and other relevant information in preparation of your next steps after graduation.
Due to COVID-19, our office is closed for in-person advising services, but our advisors still remain available to support you remotely via LiveChat, virtual appointment, phone or email. We wish you all the best with your future endeavours. Should you have any questions, please connect with an International Student Advisor for assistance.
1. APPLYING FOR A POST-GRADUATION WORK PERMIT
What is a post-graduation work permit?
Full-time international students may be eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit upon completion of their studies in Canada. The post-graduation work permit is an open work permit of up to three years in length, and you don't need a job offer to apply. Click here to review the eligibility requirements to apply for a post-graduation work permit.
When should I apply for my post-graduation work permit?
The post-graduation work permit is once in a lifetime opportunity. You must apply within 180 days after completing your degree requirements. The calculation of this 180-day period begins from:
(A) the day your thesis grade is updated to 'CO' in goSFU (if your program includes a thesis), or
(B) August 26, 2020, the final grade deadline for Summer 2020 term (for non-thesis programs)
To apply for a post-graduation work permit within Canada, you should have valid temporary resident status in Canada (e.g. a valid study permit, valid visitor status, or implied status) at the time of your application.
You may apply for the post-graduation work permit within Canada while holding implied status, provided that you have applied to extend your study permit or change your status to visitor before your study permit expires or becomes invalid.
You also have the option to apply for the work permit from outside Canada. However, your study permit must be valid or have been valid at some point in the 180 days prior to submitting your application.
** Keep in mind that your study permit will automatically become invalid 90 days after you have completed your program, or on the expiry date printed on your study permit, whichever comes first.**
If you would like to start working while you await processing of your post-graduation work permit application, your study permit must be valid at the time of your application (i.e. you must apply for the work permit before your study permit expires or becomes invalid) and meet certain eligibility requirements specified in the application timeline linked below.
Click here to download the PGWP Timeline in a PDF format and customize your own application timeline.
My study permit will expire before I can submit the post-graduation work permit application. How should I proceed with my post-graduation work permit application?
If your study permit will expire or become invalid before you can submit your post-graduation work permit application, you have several options on how to proceed.
Option 1: Apply to extend your study permit within Canada, if eligible
If you are still within your final term, you may submit an application to extend your study permit within Canada for an additional 90 days (i.e. you may request your study permit to be extended to the end of November 2020) which is also known as “bridge extension”. If you apply to renew your study permit prior to its expiry date, you can continue to remain in Canada on implied status while waiting for a decision to be made on your application.
While holding implied status, you can submit your post-graduation work permit within Canada even if no decision has been made on your study permit extension application. However, you can't work while your post-graduation work permit application is in process. You may start working once you receive your work permit.
Option 2: Apply to change your status to visitor
To remain in Canada longer, you may also apply to change your status to visitor. To do so, you must submit an application for a visitor record before your study permit expires or becomes invalid.
You may continue to remain in Canada and submit your post-graduation work permit on implied status while your visitor record application is in process. However, you will not be eligible to work during the transition period to the post-graduation work permit. You must wait to receive your work permit first before you can start working.
Option 3: Apply for the post-graduation work permit outside Canada
You may also apply for your post-graduation work permit outside Canada. You are not required to have a valid study permit at the time you submit your work permit application overseas. However, your study permit must be valid or have been valid at some point in the 180 days prior to submitting your application.
If you plan to apply for the work permit from outside Canada, you should either leave Canada before your current status expires, or apply to extend either apply to extend your study permit if eligible(option 1), or change your status to visitor before your study permit expires or becomes invalid (option 2).
For more information on how to submit a post-graduation work permit outside Canada, please follow the instructions here.
My study permit has already expired and I am on implied status now. Can I apply for the post-graduation work permit?
If you are on implied status (e.g. you have applied to extend your study permit prior to its expiry date), you can submit the post-graduation work permit application and may continue to remain in Canada while waiting for a decision to be made on your applications.
If you were eligible to work in your final term, you may continue to work on implied status up to 20 hours per week until you receive your credential completion letter. Once you have received your credential completion letter, you must stop working immediately and can't resume working until you receive your post-graduation work permit.
How can I apply for my post-graduation work permit within Canada?
In most cases, you should apply online and in support of your application, you will need the following documents from SFU:
- A final transcript (an unofficial transcript showing your final marks is fine), and
- An official letter confirming the successful completion of your academic requirements. You may use one of the following for this purpose:
- Credential Completion Letter
- Must be manually requested and downloaded via goSFU.ca
- Available to you once the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) receives and processes the Degree Recommendation from your program
- You cannot access this letter once the Senate letter is sent to you
- Senate Letter/Formal Notification of Graduation
- Emailed to your SFU email address on September 15 after your degree is awarded by the Senate
- Credential Completion Letter
Review the links below on how to request the above documents and apply for your work permit online:
Click here for instructions on how to access your credential completion letter
With the exception of part-time studies in your final term or an approved leave, continuous full-time enrollment is a requirement to be eligible for the post-graduation work permit. If you were not able to maintain continuous full-time enrollment in each Spring or Fall term throughout your studies at SFU, it is strongly recommended that you include a letter of explanation with your application detailing your unique circumstance(s). Depending on the circumstances, supporting documents may also be submitted as evidence of reason/s for any gaps in your full-time enrollment.
If you were unable to maintain full-time enrollment status (e.g. withdrawal to part time or taking the term off) in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19, the following documents and/or explanation may be helpful to include in your application:
- A detailed letter of explanation to the immigration officer explaining why you were not able to maintain full-time enrollment
- SFU’s announcement on updates and changes to academic policies and procedures for the Spring term (e.g. in-person instruction cancelled for the Spring 2020 term), and any other relevant correspondence you have received from SFU
- When processing your application, IRCC may contact you to request additional documents, such as a supporting letter from SFU. SFU is currently working to confirm the necessary information for a supporting letter and details will be posted on our COVID-19 FAQ page when available.
Under normal circumstances, valid biometrics (fingerprints and photo) are required for IRCC to complete processing of your application. If you have not already provided your biometrics in the past 10 years and are not exempt from the requirement, you will need to give your biometrics for your post-graduation work permit application. Click here to find out how to give your biometrics.
If you gave biometrics in the past as part of an application to come to Canada (e.g. applying for a temporary resident visa or a study permit outside of Canada), they may still be valid. To check whether your biometrics are still valid and when they will expire, visit the Check Status Tool on the IRCC website.
Due to COVID-19, all in-Canada biometrics collection appointments are temporarily suspended until further notice. On July 15, 2020, IRCC announced a temporary public policy exempting applicants in Canada from the requirement to give biometrics. With this temporary measure, you will be temporarily exempt from the biometrics requirement if you are applying for the post-graduation work permit from within Canada. In addition, you don’t need to pay for the biometrics fee even if it is included in your online document checklist.
- Visit the IRCC website on the temporary in-Canada biometrics exemption
Please note that this exemption will only apply if you are applying from within Canada. If you will be applying for your post-graduation work permit outside Canada, biometrics enrollment will still be required unless you are exempt or you already have valid biometrics with IRCC. If you are unable to complete biometrics enrollment due to temporary closure of biometrics collection sites, you must proceed with your biometrics enrollment as soon as biometrics collection is available.
Please note that your application will not be refused or closed if you are not able to give your biometrics within the period indicated on your original biometric instruction letter (BIL). For more information about biometrics collection outside Canada, visit here for more information.
As some visa application centers (VAC) and US application support centers (ASCs) are reopening again, check here for updates on when biometrics collection will start again.
Can I work before applying for the post-graduation work permit?
If you were eligible to work in your final term, you may continue to work up to 20 hours per week until the first date you receive your credential completion letter. Your study permit must also remain valid during this period.
You must stop working when your credential completion letter is issued via goSFU. Keep in mind that you will not receive an automatic notification when the credential completion letter becomes available. You must request the letter online via goSFU.
Can I start working once I have applied for the post-graduation work permit?
After submitting your post-graduation work permit application, you may start working on a full-time basis only if you meet certain eligibility requirements set by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). If you don’t meet those requirements, you must wait to receive your work permit first before starting or resuming work.
A few reminders about applying for a post-graduation work permit:
Closely monitor any changes or possible extensions to the current travel restrictions and exemptions
Speak with your Graduate Program Assistant to find out when the credential completion letter will be available to be generated online
Check your passport expiry date as the post-graduation work permit will not be issued beyond the validity of your passport
Review the online resources handouts on how to apply for the PGWP within Canada and the step-by-step instruction guide
Review and customize your own post-graduation work permit timeline
Make sure that your study permit is valid throughout the entire duration of your program of studies in Canada. Extend your study permit if needed, or apply for a visitor record if your study permit will expire before you submit your post-graduation work permit application.
Review and check your work eligibility during the transition period to the post-graduation work permit
Click here for processing times for post-graduation work permit applications (due to COVID-19, the posted processing times are no longer accurate, however, IRCC is continuing to process applications as quickly as possible)
Connect with an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist remotely should you have any questions
2. IMPACTS OF COVID-19 AND TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
To help you navigate through this challenging time, visit our COVID-19 FAQ for additional information on what resources and supports are available at SFU and how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact immigration and medical insurance for international students.
How will COVID-19 impact my post-graduation work permit application?
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released a resource online outlining how COVID-19 is impacting their operations including information about travel restrictions and immigration-related impacts. Please carefully review the information and closely monitor the site for future updates.
- Check here on how COVID-19 is affecting IRCC and its operations
It is important to keep in mind how COVID-19 may impact the eligibility and processing of your post-graduation work permit:
-Enrollment status in the Spring 2020 term:
If you had to put your studies on hold or were forced to drop to part time because of COVID-19 in the Spring 2020 term, IRCC has confirmed that the part-time enrollment status will not negatively impact your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit. Visit IRCC’s website for more information.
-Distance learning in and outside Canada for the Spring and Summer 2020 term:
Your eligibility for the post-graduation work permit will not be impacted by taking online courses in the Spring or Summer 2020 term due to COVID-19.
Under normal circumstances, distance-learning courses completed outside Canada are excluded from the time accumulated toward the length of the post-graduation work permit. However, on an exceptional basis, IRCC has confirmed that time spent studying outside Canada in the Spring and Summer 2020 term will not negatively impact your eligibility or length of the post-graduation work permit, provided that you have a valid study permit and have completed at least 50% of your program of study in Canada. Visit here for more information on this temporary policy change.
Due to service disruptions caused by COVID-19, IRCC’s current processing times are no longer accurate and IRCC is unable to process applications normally.
However, you may remain in Canada with an expired study permit while waiting for your post-graduation work permit to be processed, as long as you submit your post-graduation work permit before your study permit expires or becomes invalid.
-Biometrics Collection in and outside Canada:
Please visit here for more information on how COVID-19 may impact biometrics collection for your post-graduation work permit application.
Travel restrictions and exemptions
To manage the outbreak of COVID-19, travel restrictions have been implemented to stop non-essential travel to Canada by foreign nationals with only a few exemptions.
If you plan to travel abroad while your post-graduation work permit application is being processed within Canada, please review the travel restrictions and exemptions to make an informed decision about your travel plan.
If you will apply for your post-graduation work permit outside Canada, upon approval of your post-graduation work permit, please ensure that you are exempt from the travel restrictions and can travel back to Canada (if the travel restrictions are still in place when you plan to return to Canada).
- Check here to find out what you need before travelling to Canada.
- Check here for travel restrictions and exemptions for temporary workers
Depending on how the COVID-19 situation evolves, the current travel restrictions may be changed or extended further. Therefore, it will be important to closely monitor these in preparation of your return to Canada. If you are not exempt from the travel restrictions, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.
3. CONVOCATION CEREMONY
Convocation ceremonies will be held from October 8 to October 9 for Fall 2020. Click here for more information about the Fall convocation.
- Visit the Convocation COVID-19 FAQs page for convocation-related inquiries.
If your family or friends wish to visit you in Canada, keep in mind the current travel restrictions which prohibit non-essential travel to Canada by most foreign nationals. Depending on how COVID-19 pandemic evolves, these restrictions may be lifted, changed, or extended further. It is strongly recommended that your family or friends closely monitor the travel restrictions and exemptions if they intend to travel to Canada.
In the event that the travel restrictions are still in place, your family members will not be able to travel to Canada unless they are exempt from the restrictions (even if they have valid Temporary Resident Visas or Electronic Travel Authorization).
Should the travel restrictions be loosened or lifted, refer to the following resources that may help your family/friends prepare for their visit to Canada:
Click here for IRCC’s website on visiting Canada
4. MEDICAL INSURANCE AFTER COMPLETION OF YOUR PROGRAM
Primary Medical Insurance:
You must have adequate medical insurance coverage during your time in Canada. As a resident of British Columbia who is residing in BC for six months or longer, it is mandatory for you to enroll yourself in the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). In most cases, your MSP coverage is issued to match the expiry date of your current immigration document (e.g. your study permit). Thus, if you are currently covered under MSP but have recently renewed your study permit, you must extend your coverage with MSP by submitting a copy of your renewed study permit via the online MSP Account Change Request form.
- Click here for more information on how to apply for MSP
- Click here to access the online application for BC MSP
- Click here to access the MSP online Account Change Request Form to extend your MSP coverage
In response to COVID-19, BC MSP has announced important information about providing temporary MSP coverage to individuals who are currently under implied status and providing COVID-19 treatments for non-MSP residents. If you are currently in B.C with an expired study permit and your MSP has expired, you may be provided temporary MSP coverage if meeting all the criteria. You must contact Health Insurance BC directly to request this temporary coverage.
- Click here to review important information about temporary MSP coverage during COVID-19
Please note that your study permit or post-graduation work permit (upon approval) must be valid for at least six months in order to extend your MSP. If you have less than six months remaining on your study permit at the time of your MSP application, you may still be eligible to enroll with MSP, provided the overall duration of your study permit is six months or longer. Note that when your MSP application is processed, your coverage and fees will be backdated to the date you become eligible for MSP (however, backdating will not extend prior to September 1, 2019).
If you are not eligible to extend or enroll with MSP (e.g. there is a gap in your MSP coverage), we strongly recommend that you obtain short-term private medical insurance to cover you in the interim (You may be eligible to purchase short-term medical insurance with guard me International Insurance).
If you are currently outside of BC or you just returned to BC, please contact Health Insurance BC directly to inquire your eligibility to enroll with MSP.
Secondary Medical Insurance:
If you are currently covered under the Graduate Student Society (GSS) Health and Dental Plan during the Summer 2020 term, you may continue to use your SFSS secondary insurance until August 31, 2020. You must have valid primary health coverage (e.g. BC MSP or guard.me) in order to use the secondary benefit plan.