November 26, 2021 Canada has just announced an extension of time for the special covid-19 rule permitting international students doing studies outside Canada to have their study time count towards a PGWP (the permission to work inside Canada after graduating from an eligible** program).
The key announcement is the extension of time. The previous rule allowed international students to be eligible for a PGWP and would count studies completed abroad. But that rule expired December 31, 2021.
Who does it help?
We at CUAC have many of our students worldwide who have applied for study permits for January, 2022 but are still waiting due to delays in processing, largely related to the ongoing pandemic.
For students entering longer programs lie 3 or 4 years, the new rule doesn't have any impact since the PGWP process only requires up to 2 years of full-time study to be eligible for the maximum permit of three years.
However, for students entering a program of 2 years or less, this is extremely important and valuable. Now it means that if they do not get the study permit approval in time for January but start their studies, that their study time will count towards their PGWP even if the approval comes later in January, February or later still, in 2022. Without this announcement their PGWP eligibility would have been shortened to less than two years.
Can you complete a whole program online and still get a PGWP?
Yes, if you were already studying online and the completion of the program will be offered online in 2022, you can finish it online and get the full PGWP as if you studied all of it in Canada.
If you are planning to start a program in 2022 that will finish by August, 2022, you can also do this and all the time of the online study will count towards your PGWP.
The following time won’t count toward the length of a PGWP:
time spent studying outside Canada after August 31, 2022
time spent studying before you applied for a study permit
The above means the Government of Canada is signalling that it is very unlikely that the special rule will be extended. You should make your plans expecting that study time from September, 2022 will not count towards a PGWP unless you complete it in Canada.
Further, there is not change to the rule that only the time spent studying after applied for the study permit will count. This means if you start online study in January, 2022 but you only apply for the study permit in March, 2022 the evaluation of a PGWP application will count the months beginning with March, 2022
**Finally, referring to "eligible" program as noted above, remember to be certain that the program is (i) offered at a Designated Learning Institute (DLI), (ii) specifically qualifies as a program accepted for PGWP purposes, and (iii) is long enough meaning at least 8 months of full-time study, as shorter programs do not qualify.
If you are being served by a CUAC office we always verify that your program is eligible for the PGWP.
Official Government of Canada reference
You may also wish to see our earlier blog about the realities of online study at this like.