Your Next Steps As A Graduate Student Completing in Fall 2019

December 18, 2019

As an international graduate student who has applied for graduation in Fall 2019, please carefully review the information below regarding the post-graduation work permit (PGWP), inviting your family members and friends to your convocation ceremony, and medical insurance after completion of your studies at SFU. 

  1. Applying For a Post-Graduate Work Permit

What is a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)? 

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 PGWP? 

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) December 19, 2019, the final grade deadline for Fall 2019 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 or valid visitor status) at the time of your application. 

You also have the option to apply for the post-graduation work permit from outside of Canada. 


** Keep in mind that your study permit will automatically expire 90 days after you have completed your program, or on the expiry date printed on your study permit, whichever comes first.** 

Click the image to enlarge/ download the above PGWP Timeline in a PDF format and customize your own application timeline.

If you would like to start working while you await processing of your work permit application, you must apply before your study permit expires and meet certain eligibility requirements specified in the application timeline linked above.

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 (showing your final marks), 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
    • Will be available once your graduation application is approved
    • You cannot access this letter once the Senate letter is sent to you
    • Must be manually requested and downloaded via
  • Senate Letter/Formal Notification of Graduation
    • Emailed to your SFU email address in early February after your degree is awarded by the Senate


Review the links below on how to request the above documents and apply for your post-graduation work permit online: 

☑   Click here  for instructions on how to access your credential completion letter
☑   Click here for instructions on how to request a transcript
☑   Click here for instructions on how to apply for a PGWP and required supporting documents
☑   Click here for details on how to generate an online application checklist and complete the application form

Do I need to provide biometrics for my post-graduation work permit?

As of December 3, 2019, biometrics collection services have been implemented for in-Canada applications including post-graduation work permit. If you have not already provided your biometrics in the past and are not exempt from the requirement, you will need to give your biometrics for your post-graduation work permit application. 

To give your biometrics within Canada, it must be done in person after you submit your online application (which must be accompanied by an $85 biometrics fee) and receive an instruction letter from IRCC.  Biometrics collection in Canada is done by appointment only at the designatedService Canada centres.  Processing of your application will only begin after you pay for and 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.

  • Check here for biometrics requirements including a list of exemptions
  • Check here for biometrics requirements for in-Canada applications
  • Check here to find out how to give your biometrics

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.

 Click here to check if you are eligible to work off campus in your final term

 Click here to check if you meet the eligibility requirements to work after applying for your work permit

 Click here for a timeline of work eligibility after program completion

Can I travel and return to Canada while waiting for my post-graduation work permit? 

To return and re-enter Canada, you must have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization), unless you are otherwise exempted. Your temporary resident visa remains valid until its expiry date printed on the visa. If you have an eTA, click here to check the validity of your eTA.

If you are planning to travel outside of Canada but your TRV or eTA is already expired, you may be eligible to apply for a new TRV or a new eTA before leaving Canada. Click here for instructions on how to apply for a new TRV or eTA.

Upon your return to Canada (with a valid eTA or TRV), your temporary resident status in Canada may change pending the decision on your post-graduation work permit application:

  • If your post-graduation work permit has been approved, you may enter as a worker
  • If your application is still being processed,
    • You may enter Canada as a student if your study permit is still valid
    • You may enter Canada as a visitor if your study permit is expired

To prepare for your arrival at the port of entry, we strongly recommend that you carry documentation to show you submitted a post-graduation work permit application within Canada such as a copy of your application, the submission confirmation letter via MyCIC account, the fee payment receipt, etc. Click here for more information about travelling outside of Canada while waiting for your post-graduation work permit.

A few reminders about applying for a post-graduation work permit 

   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

   Effective December 3, 2019, biometrics collection services have been implemented in Canada. Check here for more information about biometrics requirements for in-Canada applications. 

   Review the online resources handouts on how to apply for the PGWP 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. Extend your study permit if needed

   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 application

☑   Connect with an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist should you have any questions

  2. Inviting Family Members and Friends to Your Convocation Ceremony

If your family or friends wish to visit you in Canada for your convocation ceremony, most of them may need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada.  If they are from a country whose citizens require a TRV to enter Canada, they can apply at the Canadian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission responsible for their country of nationality or residence. Details on where to apply can be found here.

In addition, IRCC requires foreign nationals to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when applying for a temporary resident visa outside of Canada. In support of their TRV applications, your family members or friends need to give their biometrics at a biometric collection service. Click here for more information on the biometrics requirements.

You can assist your family or friends with their TRV application by providing a number of supporting documents including a letter of invitation (see link below). It is important for your family members to apply well in advance and consult the specific visa office instructions for details on any additional requirements, forms, or documents. This will allow you and your family members to avoid any unexpected delays or disappointments.

If your family or friends need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada by air, they may submit an application online. More information on the requirements and application process can be found here.  

☑  Click here for IRCC’s website on visiting Canada

☑  Click here to find out if your family or friends need to apply for a TRV or an eTA

☑  Click here for documents you can prepare to assist your family members (includes a sample invitation letter)

☑  Click here for the processing times on TRV or eTA applications

  3. Medical Insurance After Completion of Your Program

You must have adequate medical insurance coverage during your time in Canada. If you are currently covered by the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) and need to extend your coverage, you should complete the MSP Account Change Request form online here. Your study permit or work permit must have at least six months of validity remaining in order to extend your MSP.

If you are covered by plan for the Fall 2019 term, please note that your coverage will end on December 31, 2019. Therefore, you should apply for BC MSP as soon as possible. Click here for more information on how to apply for MSP. 

☑  Click here to access the online application for BC MSP. 

If you are not eligible to extend or apply for BC MSP coverage now (i.e. your current study permit will expire within 6 months) or if 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 International Insurance)

If you are enrolled under the Graduate Student Society (GSS) Health and Dental Plan during the Fall 2019 term, you may continue to use your GSS secondary plan until August 31, 2020. You must have valid primary health coverage (e.g. BC MSP or in order to use the secondary benefit plan. If you wish to opt-out of your GSS secondary plan and receive a partial refund of your full-year plan fee, you must complete an opt-out form online during the Spring 2020 Change-of-Coverage-Period

Contact GSS for more information about the opt out process.