Post-Graduate Work Permits, Financial Support Exclusions, and Travel Exemptions & Restrictions

Pre-pandemic, international students were met with minimal financial and community support resources, exorbitant tuition fees, and an overall lack of concern for wellbeing. Unfortunately, even after nearly a year, little has changed for international students, creating unimaginable challenges to individuals facing isolation, poverty, and deportation, after looking to a Canadian post-secondary education as a pathway to success.    

We know that in fighting for a Just Recovery for Students, and ultimately Education for All, relief programs in Canada need to extend to include and protect every student studying in this country. Below is a brief overview of the minimal support resources available to international students, as well as a summary of the added challenges faced by many.


Post-Graduate Work Permit Extensions (VICTORY!)

On January 27, 2021, following student and migrant worker advocacy efforts to stop the mass deportation of post-graduate migrant students, the Honourable Marco Mendocino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced that Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP) could be extended up to 18-months.


Deadline for application: July 27, 2021


What is PGWP?

PGWP allows international students who have graduated from eligible Canadian post-secondary institutions to gain work experience. This is not only favourable in permanent residence applications for international students but also contributes to meeting the number of work hours required for application (1,560 hours, or approximately 30h/week for 12h).


What are the Eligibility Criteria for Open Work Permit Applications?

18-month open work permits require international students/graduates to meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a current PWGP that expired on or after January 30, 2020. Or a PWGP that will expire within 4 months of the date of application for this current work permit
  • Have been living in Canada as of January 27, 2021, when the public policy took effect, and have not left the country since then

Must have either:

  • Active temporary resident status
  • If temporary resident status expired, must have already applied to restore it or will be applying to restore status at the same time as an open permit application
  • Must specify in the application that they are applying for an open work permit under this public policy
  • Have a valid passport

This open work permit will only be issued for up to 18months from the date of approval OR until the passport expires, whichever comes first 

  • i.e., if a graduated student’s passport expires in 6 months, then the open work permit will only be granted for those 6 months
  • Ensure to have a valid passport before applying in order to receive the full 18month extension!

For more details and a full explanation of PGWP extension eligibility requirements, visit:

Financial Support Inclusions

The following are financial support resources or accommodations that have been made available to international students since March 2020:

Program Duration Exclusions Benefit
Off-Campus Work Hours Extension April 22, 2020 – August 31, 2020
  • International students working in non-essential service jobs
20 hour off-campus work hour cap removed from international students in essential service jobs

Financial Support Exclusions

The following are financial support resources or accommodations that international students have been excluded from accessing since March 2020:

Program Duration Exclusions Benefit
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) March 15, 2020 – December 2, 2020 (last day for application)
  • International students
  • Do not otherwise meet work qualifications
    • Domestic students
    • Recent graduates 
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) May 10, 2020 – September 30, 2020 (last day for application)
  • International students
  • Recent graduates
$1,250/month or $2,000/month for students with dependents and/or disabilities
Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) Failed Program
  • International students
Up to $5,000 for 500 hours of volunteer service
Canada Student Summer Jobs (CSSJ)
  • International students
  • Students over 30
Federal government just invested an additional $450 million into the program
Canada Recovery Benefit September 27, 2020 – September 25, 2021 (last day for application)
  • International students
  • Do not otherwise meet work qualifications
    • Domestic students
    • Recent graduates 
$1,000 every 2 weeks, maximum of 13 periods (need to reapply every period)


Travel Exemptions & Restrictions

On October 20, 2020, Canada reopened its borders to international students who meet the criteria for essential travel.

What is considered essential travel?

  • Must meet two requirements: 
  • Students must have a valid study permit or letter that shows they are approved for a study permit
  • Students must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI – university or college approved by the provincial or territorial government to admit students) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan 
  • The COVID-19 readiness plan includes:
    • 14-day quarantine stay, with included transportation to the location 
    • Info and support including how to get items in quarantine (food & med)
    • Health insurance
    • Remaining healthy while in Canada
  • Travel is not considered essential if:
    • The destined study program has been cancelled or suspended
    • Entering Canada for any reason other than to study
    • The student left the country and is attempting to return to their studies but their DLI does not have an approved COVID-19 readiness plan

For more details and a full explanation of travel restrictions, visit:

For a full list of Designated Learning Institutes (DLI) with provincially- or territorially-approved COVID-19 readiness plans, visit: