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Can a Study Permit be Changed to a Work Permit in Canada?

June 12, 2023BY Faisal Mustafa

International students in Canada often wonder if their study permit can be changed to a work permit.

The GOOD NEWS is that the Canadian government recognizes the value of international students gaining work experience after completing their studies.

And there are various pathways available for study permit holders to transition to work permit holders.

If you are also an international, want to know–Can a study permit be changed to a work permit in Canada? The answer is–Yes.

This discussion will specify the available pathways and their requirements for obtaining a work permit.

Option 1: Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program

PGWP is a popular pathway for international graduates to get a work permit. Under this program, eligible students who have completed a program of study from a designated Canadian educational institution can apply for a work permit. Keep in mind, in this option, you get a work permit only after completing your studies.

The key points to understand about the PGWP program:

Eligibility for PGWP

  • You must have completed a program of study that is at least eight months long at a designated learning institution in Canada.
  • The program should lead to a diploma, degree, or certificate.
  • The Canadian government must recognize the institution.

Work Permit Duration

The length of the work permit depends on the duration of the program you completed. So, considering that:

  • Graduate programs that are at least eight months long but less than two years long may be eligible for a work permit that is valid for a period equal to the length of their program.
  • On the other hand, graduate programs that are two years or longer may be eligible for a three-year work permit.

Work Opportunities

With a PGWP, as an international graduate, you can work in Canada for any employer and occupation.

Want a work permit before completing your studies? Then you should check out the next procedure.

Read more how to avoide graduate work permit rejection in canada.

Option 2: Securing a Job Offer from a Canadian Employer

This is another arrangement for receiving a work permit in Canada. In this circumstance, as the heading suggests, you need a job offered by a Canadian Employer.

Moreover, in this program, you can get a work permit before completing your studies.

Find below more information about this work permit option:

Job Offer Requirement

  • A candidate must have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer.
  • The job offer must meet certain criteria, including demonstrating that the employer has tried to hire a Canadian citizen or permanent resident before offering the position to a foreign worker. 

Labour Market Impacts Assessment (LMIA)

In many cases, the employer needs to obtain a positive LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Note that the LMIA first verifies that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact the Canadian Labor Market.

LMIA Exemptions

There are certain situations where a job offer may be removed from the LMIA. And the scenarios are:

  • Work permits issued under international agreements like NAFTA, now called CUSMA.
  • Intra-company transfers
  • Certain categories under international trade agreements

Option 3: Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Other than the two options above, international graduates can get a work permit from PNPs. Additionally, several Canadian provinces and territories have their own immigration programs.

Provincial Nomination

In PNPs provinces and territories nominate individuals who meet certain criteria. So that, they can have the skills and experience needed in their local labour markets. If you meet the criteria of a particular PNP team, you may get a nomination for a work permit.

Stream Eligibility

As there are different streams, they have their individual eligibility criteria. And the factors may include:

  • Completing a program of study in the province
  • Language proficiency
  • Work experience

If you are interested in these programs, you must review the requirements of your targeted stream to ensure the criteria.

You can see that each pathway has its own specific requirements and process. As an international graduate by checking the criteria and guideline you can determine the most suitable option for you to obtain a work permit.

To Summarise the Discussion

You have multiple pathways to transition from a study permit to a work permit.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program offers flexibility in work duration and opportunities.

Alternatively, securing a job offer or exploring Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) can also lead to a work permit.

So, review the specific requirements and choose the best option to enhance your career prospects in Canada. Don’t miss out on the exciting opportunities ahead!


For more information, see these questions: 

Can I Get LMIA While on Study Permit?

No, you cannot obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) while on a study permit in Canada. LMIA is typically required for certain work permits that are based on a job offer from a Canadian employer. As a student, you are generally expected to focus on your studies rather than engage in full-time employment that requires an LMIA.

Can I Work after My Study Is Completed?

Yes, you may be eligible to work after completing your studies in Canada. The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allows international students who have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution in Canada to work full-time for a specified period. The duration of the PGWP depends on the length of your study program.

How Many Times Can I Renew My Work Permit in Canada?

The number of times you can renew your work permit in Canada depends on various factors. Some work permits, such as the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), can only be issued once in a lifetime. However, other work permits may have different renewal options. It is essential to consult the specific requirements and regulations associated with your work permit category or consult with an immigration professional for accurate information.

Can I Convert a Study Permit to Work Permit in Canada?

Yes, it is possible to convert a study permit to a work permit in Canada under certain circumstances. For instance, if you complete a qualifying program of study at a designated learning institution in Canada, you may be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This work permit allows you to work in Canada for a specific duration, depending on the length of your study program.

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