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March 30, 2024

Canada increases duration of interim work authorization letters for international graduates

Canada has recently increased the duration of validity of interim work authorization letters issued to international graduates in the country waiting for a decision on their work permit application.

Work authorization letters will now be valid for a period of 180 days from the time of submitting an application, as opposed to the previous 120 days.

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What is an interim work authorization letter?

Interim work authorization letters are documents issued by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to state that an international graduate can start working before their work permit application received a final decision from IRCC.

These documents are issued to international graduates, who can work full time without a work permit while waiting for a decision on their work permit application, if they apply for a work permit before the expiry of their study permit, provided that they as well meet certain conditions when applying. This allows graduates to begin working before they receive a decision from IRCC on their work permit application.

International graduates who wish to work before applying for their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) must:

Have held a valid study permit at the time of submitting their work permit application;
Have completed their program of study;
Have met requirements for working off campus without a work permit, namely:
They were a full-time student enrolled at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI);
They were in a post-secondary academic vocational or professional training program of at least 8 months in duration;
They received a degree, diploma, or certificate from their course; and
The did not exceed the allowable hours of work for full-time students in Canada—note that from November 15th, 2022, to April 30th, 2024, students were able to work more than the regular allotted 20 hours a week limit, thanks to a temporary public policy enacted by IRCC.

Applicants with an interim work authorization letter are able to continue working in Canada, even after leaving and returning to the country (though it should be noted many candidates will need a valid temporary resident visa to do so). An interim work authorization letter is not a travel document.

What happens if 180 days pass without a decision on an application?

IRCC notes that if 180 days have passed without a decision on the application, applicants may request continued proof of authorization to work from IRCC. This can be done by utilising the IRCC webform.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm