Work after your studies

Studying in British Columbia can be a very exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some students return home after their studies, others stay and look for work here.

study and work in bc

Post-graduation work permit

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) allows you to remain in Canada and work full-time after you complete a certificate, diploma, or degree program that is at least 8 months in length.

A PGWP is a practical way to advance your career goals and gain Canadian work experience after completing your studies. For students who are interested in applying for Canadian permanent residency (PR), it provides an opportunity to gain one year of skilled work experience in Canada, which might be helpful for certain PR programs.

You can only apply for the PGWP once in your lifetime. If you are unsure if you will stay or return to Canada after your studies, consider applying for the PGWP in case your plans change, since you will lose the opportunity to apply 180 days after your letter of completion first becomes available. You do not need to live in Canada or hold a job at all times to keep the work permit valid.

The length of the work permit ranges from 8 months to 3 years based on the length of your full-time program, not the amount of time spent completing program requirements.

Am I eligible?
To apply for a work permit after your graduation, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have been enrolled in full-time studies in BC;
  • You must have successfully completed a program that lasted at least eight months from a public institution such as a college, trade/technical school, university or a degree program at a private institution;
  • If you are taking studies that lead to a degree in a private institution, it must be approved and authorized by the province of BC;
  • You must apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving a transcript or an official letter from your institution indicating that you have met all academic requirements for your program;
  • You must have completed and passed your program of study and have received a notification from your institution saying you are eligible to obtain your degree, diploma or certificate; and,
  • You must have a valid study permit when you apply for your work permit.

For more information about the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

View the list of designated learning institutions and programs in BC that are eligible for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

How do I apply?

Apply online

  1. Determine if you are eligible for a post-graduation work permit.
  2. Collect all required documents.
  3. Register for, or log into, your MyCIC account.

Paper application

If you can’t apply online, you can complete and mail a paper application.

Become a permanent resident after graduation

If you would like to become a permanent resident of Canada, and intend to work and reside in BC after you study, you may qualify to apply to the international student stream of the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP).

The BCPNP allows nominees to apply for Permanent Resident status through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) under the fast-tracked Provincial Nominee stream – which can be faster than applying through many federal immigration streams.

For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the BCPNP website.

Express Entry

This IRCC initiative manages applications for permanent residence in Canada under specific federal economic immigration programs. Provinces and territories can also recruit candidates from the Express Entry pool for a portion of their Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in order to meet local labour market needs.

International student graduates may apply under Express Entry if they meet the requirements.

For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit the IRCC website.

How do I apply?

  1. Determine if you are eligible to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry.
  2. Fill out an Express Entry profile online for entry into a pool of candidates.
  3. Await an invitation to apply for permanent residence from IRCC.

Career resources

Check out potential careers including the main duties, educational requirements, workforce trends, and job prospects.

  • WorkBC
    A one-stop window to the world of work in BC.
  • Career Trek
    Follow two hosts as they travel across BC and bring 147 careers to life.
  • Working in Canada
    Search job descriptions, wage rates, skill requirements, and training and job opportunities within specific geographic locations.