A lot of international graduates of post-secondary institutions in Canada qualify for post-graduate work permits or PGWPs. PGWPs are valid for entire length of the students’ academic programs with a maximum of 3 years. PGWPs are considered as open work permits, which means graduates can work for any employer in Canada, but they are as well covered by the recently implemented rules that ban working in any sex trade-related industry.
A good number of these graduates usually apply for permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, a Provincial Nominee Program or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.
The Need for a Labour Market Opinion or LMO
Because Permanent Resident (PR) applicants do not have temporary residence status in Canada within the processing period, they and their prospective employers often struggle to get a positive Labor Market Opinion (LMO).
Sometimes, these graduates lose their jobs and their chances of getting PR status if their employers cannot or do not want to pay them according to the required wage rates for the issuance of LMOs, or if employers cannot prove to Service Canada that they have exhausted all means to look for suitable candidates who are either Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
However, there are steps that may be taken to avoid these scenarios. There are two existing programs designed to extend the temporary residence status of those who hold PGWPs and work in skilled positions – the bridging open work permit and the PGWP LMO. But first, applicants must prove to Service Canada or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that they are qualified for these programs and that they want to be considered.
Bridging Open Work Permits
With a bridging open work permit, a PR applicant can extend his temporary resident status in Canada while CIC processes his application, and there will be no need for his employer to get an LMO.
A temporary foreign worker who is currently employed in Canada is eligible to apply for a bridging open work permit if he is a foreigner in Canada, has a valid status in Canada with a work permit that expires in 4 months and has received an “acknowledgement of receipt” or a positive eligibility decision on his PR application.
A bridging open work permit is open and valid for a period of one year.
Post-Graduate Work Permit Program’s Labour Market Opinion (PGWP LMO)
An employer who wants to retain a foreign worker after his work permit expires has to get a positive LMO. This generally means the employer will have to advertise the job and pay the worker a rate required for the issuance of the LMO. If an employer intends to offer a permanent job to a PGWP-holding employee in a skilled position, the LMO rules can vary.
One, this employer does not need to advertise the job. Two, there is no need to pay the worker the prevailing wage rate, and the employee may be paid the entry-level rate. Three, the position need not be related to the worker’s educational background.
PGWP LMOs are usually issued for 2 years, which is often enough for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to make a final decision on a PR application. Otherwise, the applicant can also apply for a bridging open work permit.
Both permits offer great opportunities for international graduates, although they are relatively new and may not be as popular as the others. They are both good alternatives for any PGWP holder who wants to extend his temporary work status in Canada.