Will my online course be acceptable? Canada Immigration

Dear Ms. Powell,

I follow you on Facebook and noticed a post about studying in Canada. I am interested in online studies from a Canadian college. Do I qualify for a postgraduate work permit if I study online? I would like to be able to apply for a stay in Canada afterwards, so I want to make sure that I can do so with an online course. Can you also tell me how to apply for a study permit? Thank you for your time and keep it up.


Dear JP,

Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made several changes to its policies and procedures for applying for study permits and postgraduate work permits over the past 12 months. Further changes are due to COVID-19.

These new rules have made Canada more attractive as a place for higher education and sustainable living. Many individuals use the Student Approval Route to gain valuable education and work experience in Canada and to qualify for one of the Express Entry System programs.

Click the link to cFill out our free online form to find out if you qualify to travel to Canada.

The Express Entry System manages economic programs such as the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trade Program, and some Provincial Nominee programs.

Through these programs, individuals are required to demonstrate factors that constitute evidence that they can integrate and do well in Canada. Some of the key factors are education, work experience and skills. As part of the Express Entry System, individuals are awarded points that are used in the selection process and are encouraged to apply for permanent living in Canada.


Prior to the pandemic, individuals were required to study at a specific learning institution in Canada for at least eight months to qualify for the coveted postgraduate work permit. The duration of the approval was based on the time it took to complete the studies in Canada. Online programs were not allowed. If your program were to last less than eight months, even if it were conducted in Canada, you would not qualify for the work permit.

If your program lasts longer than nine months, the IRCC would issue a work permit for up to nine months. If your program lasts longer than two years, you can get a work permit for up to three years. The Post Graduate Work Permit Duration (PGWP) was tied to the amount of time you studied in Canada.


The IRCC announced that students can now study online through April 30, 2021, stay abroad, and continue to be eligible for a PGWP after graduation to work in Canada on a full-time basis.

This means that students will not be penalized for time outside Canada, and that time will not be deducted from eligible time for work permits.

Students who have already signed up for programs with a duration of eight to twelve months with a start date between May and September 2020, and for programs that should have a duration of eight to twelve months, can complete their entire program abroad and are still eligible for a postgraduate work permit.

Click the link to cFill out our free online form to find out if you qualify to travel to Canada.

For individuals enrolled in two- or three-year programs, at least 50 percent of the program must be completed in Canada.

If a student was enrolled in a program with a start date between May and September 2020 and is studying online by April 30, 2021 and elects to complete an additional program in Canada after completing more than one eligible program, the student is will be able to combine the length of study programs to be eligible to work within Canada under the PGWP for extended periods of time, provided that at least 50 percent of studies were completed within Canada.


Your first step would be to apply to a specific learning institution (DLI) and be accepted. The program should last no less than eight months. Once you have received the letter of admission and paid the required fees, your next step is to apply for your study permit online with the IRCC.

You will need to fill out all the required forms, attach all the required documents and pay the registration fees. It is important to show that you can afford the program even if you do part of the program online.

Click the link to cFill out our free online form to find out if you qualify to travel to Canada.


Some of the documents and information you will need to provide are:

1. Proof of payment of the necessary school fees

2. Proof of your financial ability to cover tuition and all costs related to your studies without going bankrupt; or

3. Evidence that you qualify for or have access to a student loan or scholarship; or

4. A letter from a person, organization or institution that supports you financially. This person must provide evidence of their source of funding.

5. Your biometric information

6. Valid passport

7. Two recent photos taken according to specifications

8. Your reason for studying.

9. Any other information necessary to make your connections with your home country.

Items (8) and (9) above should be discussed with an immigration lawyer as you may need to provide additional documents based on your individual circumstances and your country of residence. If you have other problems or concerns, or would like more information and personal assistance with the application process, you can request a telephone meeting through our website.

Click the link to cFill out our free online form to find out if you qualify to travel to Canada.

Deidre S. Powell is an attorney, mediator and notary and a member of the Bar Association in Jamaica and Ontario, Canada. Email your questions and comments to [email protected] Subject line: Immigration Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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