Canada Amends Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Eligibility for Public-Private Partnership College Programs


Effective May 15, 2024, international students enrolling in study programs under a public-private curriculum licensing agreement, also known as public-private partnerships or P3s, will no longer qualify for post-graduation work permits upon completing their studies. 

This announcement, issued on March 22, 2024, reconditions a January 2024 amendment to PGWP eligibility, published by IRCC to better align relevant Work Permit Programs with other recent and significant reforms to the International Student Program. 

The IRCC policy update notice of January 22, 2024, stated:  

  • Starting September 1, 2024, international students beginning a study program under a curriculum licensing arrangement will not be eligible for a post-graduation work permit upon graduation. 
  • Graduates of master’s degree programs will soon be eligible to apply for a 3-year work permit. 
  • Open work permits will only be available to spouses of international students in master’s and doctoral programs. The spouses of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible.

The recent IRCC update on March 22, 2024, amends the initial effective date of the first item listed above.  

According to this update, public-private partnership college programs will no longer qualify for PGWPs upon completing their studies as of the revised date of May 15, 2024, instead of the initially announced date of September 1, 2024. 

What is a Public-Private Partnership College Program? 

  • In some provinces, public colleges can license their curriculum to be delivered by an affiliated private college. For example, curriculum licensing agreements (public-private partnerships) allow students to graduate from a program delivered by a private career college on behalf of a public PGWP-eligible institution. In these cases, students physically attend a private college but graduate with a diploma from a public institution.

Why is IRCC updating its policies regarding PGWP eligibility of Public-Private Partnership College Programs? 

  • This decision addresses concerns regarding the proliferation of public-private college partnership programs, their exploitation as loopholes for work permit eligibility, and their potential to serve as pathways to Canadian permanent residence status (PR). Under these arrangements, students attend private colleges licensed to deliver curricula from associated public colleges. While these programs have attracted many international students, they have also raised questions about the quality of education provided by these private institutions, the lack of sufficient student support offered by such affiliated programs, and their strain on Canadian resources.  
  • The Auditor General of Ontario also raised concerns in a 2021 Audit about the lack of oversight into program quality and student services at these institutions, concluding that “The Ministry has established a comprehensive policy framework for the public college sector but does not have sufficient oversight to confirm colleges comply with the enrollment requirements of the Public College-Private Partnerships Directive. It also does not require that these arrangements undergo quality assurance audits in a timely manner. The Ministry lacks a formal and comprehensive long-term strategy and action plan to sufficiently mitigate the long-term financial sustainability risks that the high reliance on international student enrollment poses to the sector.”  
  • Based on the above findings, IRCC made changes to restrict PGWPs for P3s institutions, anticipating that without the ability to apply for a PGWP, there will be a reduction in the number of international students enrolling in them.

Who is Eligible for a PGWP after Graduating from a Public-Private Partnership College Program? 

  • International students currently enrolled will remain eligible for a PGWP if they meet other program eligibility criteria. 

What Other Exemptions Apply? 

  • Curriculum licensing agreements within the same province: If you began a program of study at a private college delivering curriculum on behalf of a public college in the same province before May 15, 2024, you may be eligible for a PGWP, provided you meet all other program eligibility criteria. If you begin one of these programs on or after May 15, 2024, you will NOT be eligible for a PGWP. 
  • Curriculum licensing agreements between provinces: If you began a program of study at a private college delivering curriculum on behalf of a public college in another province on or before January 31, 2023, you may be eligible for a PGWP, provided you meet all other PGWP eligibility criteria. If you began one of these programs after February 1, 2023, you are not eligible for a PGWP. 

Who is NOT Eligible for a PGWP after Graduating from a Public-Private Partnership College Program? 

  • Effective May 15, 2024, new students enrolling in these types of program will not be eligible for a post-graduation work permit. 

How to Verify if a Program is Offered by an Ineligible Public-Private Partnership College? 

  • IRCC will continually reassess the eligibility of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), updating the provincial DLI lists regularly on its website. This will ensure transparency and enable students and representatives to verify program eligibility for post-graduation work permits. 

It is critical to note that not all designated learning institutions AND not all programs of study make you eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. Visuals extracted from the current list of non-eligible Designated Learning Institutions are enclosed below with relevant explanations. 

If listed as “No” under “Offers PGWP-eligible programs,” it confirms all programs offered under this DLI number DO NOT meet PGWP eligibility. 

  • If listed as “Yes,” it confirms all programs offered under this DLI number meet PGWP eligibility. 
  • If listed as “Yes (details),” please click on the underlined details link as this will show you which specific programs of study under this program meet PGWP eligibility.
  • Please note that many institutions have multiple DLI Numbers based on their campus locations, other college affiliations, etc. Therefore, it is important to verify the details of the specific DLI Number attached not only to the relevant college but also to the specific campus within that college. 

The IRCC policy update of March 22, 2024, further states that it will continue to work with provinces and territories to proactively identify programs that have been affected by this clarification and concludes with a reminder that these PGWP eligibility policy amendments do not prevent graduates from applying for alternative work permits upon graduation, if they qualify for such pathways. For occupations experiencing labor shortages in Canada, graduates may pursue employment supported by an employer’s approved labor market impact assessment (LMIA). Further alternatives are also available, for which you can find the full list of Canadian work permit types issued by IRCC. 

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