The number of international student graduates getting a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) has increased dramatically, a new Statistics Canada study says. The PGWP allows eligible international graduates to work anywhere in Canada for up to three years, depending on the length of their study program.
With a Canadian education and work experience, PGWP holders can get access to many of Canada’s economic-class immigration programs. It is not extendable, nor renewable, and you can only get it once in a lifetime.
Statistics Canada studied the labor market participation of PGWP holders from 2008 to 2018. The number of PGWP holders who reported income in this time grew more than 13 times in size from 10,300 in 2008 to 135,100 in 2018. Meanwhile, the participation rate has remained relatively steady with three-quarters of PGWP holders reporting earnings every year.
The median annual earnings received by PGWP holders in this period has increased from $14,500 in 2008 to $26,800 in 2018, adjusted to reflect the difference in dollar value over the decade. These earnings suggest an increase in the average amount of labor input.
Nearly three-quarters of all PGWP holders became permanent residents within five years of receiving their PGWP. These high rates of transition to permanent residence could be because Canadian work experience improves PGWP holders’ chances of being selected as immigrants, the study suggests. Also, PGWP holders may have stronger motivation to seek permanent residency than those who did not apply for a PGWP.
Most PGWP holders came from two source countries: India and China. These two source countries made up 66% of all PGWPs issued in 2018, up from 51% in 2008. The share of Indian international students who became PGWP holders grew more than four times in size from 10% in 2008 to 46% in 2018. It was the opposite for the share of international students from China who got PGWPs, falling from 41% to 20%. Over the study period, international students from India intending to study at the postsecondary level increased much faster than those from China.
The large majority of PGWP holders intended to work in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec respectively. For PGWPs issued in 2018, 56% were for international graduates intending to work in Ontario, up from 44% in 2008. PGWP holders intending to work in British Columbia decreased from 19% in 2008 to 16% in 2018. Quebec also experienced a decrease in interest from 13% in 2008 to 11% in 2018.