Staying in Canada after graduation

So you haven’t had enough of the rain, snow and everything that Vancouver and Canada have to offer. But once your final exams are graded and your Letter of Completion is posted on the Student Service Centre, you only have 90 days to change your visa or pack your bags! If you’re graduating soon, here are some tips to help you navigate your next steps.

Visitor status

Technically, you can remain in Canada for 180 days after graduation if you apply for a visitor record. This won’t allow you to work or study though.

Post-graduation work permit

A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allows you to temporarily work in Canada. A PGWP lasts between 9 months and 3 years depending on your program length — an undergraduate student in a 4-year program is eligible for a 3-year permit.

To apply for a PGWP, you must have a Letter of Completion and a valid study permit. If your study permit expires before you receive your Letter of Completion or submit your PGWP application, consider applying for a permit extension. You do not need a job offer to apply for a PGWP. You must have studied full-time (9 credits per term) until your final term.

There is an exemption for students who received a leave of absence or studied part-time between September 2021 and April 2022. Additional pandemic-related changes to presence in Canada and in-person study requirements are available via International Student Advising (ISA) and Immigrations, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). ISA recommends applying as soon as you receive your Letter of Completion so you can work over the summer if desired. If you’re staying in BC, you’ll want to extend your MSP (for free). Otherwise, check your provincial insurance plan.

Permanent residency and citizenship

Permanent residency (PR), in addition to letting you work and live in Canada, acts as your next step towards citizenship. ISA does not provide case-by-case advice regarding permanent residency and encourages you to reach out to an authorized immigration representative. Some resources are available at prepare-leave-ubc. You may apply for PR after graduation, though it requires more qualifications than a PGWP. Consult federal and provincial immigration programs, including pathways catered to specific populations (e.g. Hong Kong residents).

For those seeking Canadian citizenship, you must have resided in Canada as a PR for three out of the past five years (1,095 days), with partial credit given for time spent on a study or work permit. Consult IRCC or an authorized immigration representative for more information.