Work after Studying in Canada

International student
Work permit for international students

One of the most common myths international students have is that they need to possess work experience related to field of their study for permanent residence of Canada. This is not true as it depends on type of immigration program they apply under. A student can apply for Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to gain Canadian work experience after graduation from a Canadian post-secondary institution. Depending on length of program of study, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) grants the work permit for not more than three years. If a student is granted a Post-Graduation Work Permit, they can apply for job related to any field. Student who gains skilled Canadian work experience can apply for permanent residence of Canada under various immigration programs such as Express Entry or Provincial Nominee Program.

A PGWP can be applied online or via mail. In order to be eligible to apply for this work permit, an applicant must:

  • Have studied full-time in Canada and must have completed a program of study that lasted at least eight months.
  • Have graduated from:
    • a public post-secondary institution, such as college, trade/technical school, university or CEGEP (in Quebec), or
    • a private post-secondary institution that operates under same rules and regulations as public institutions, or
    • a private secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diplome d’etudes professionnelles (DEP) or an attestation de specialisation professionnelle (ASP), or
    • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees but only if an applicant is enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree as authorized by the province and not in all programs of study offered by the private institution.
  • Apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation, such as a transcript or official letter, from the institution stating that the applicant has completed the program of study.
  • Have completed and passed the program of study.
  • Have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.

A work permit does not allow an entry to Canada; an applicant should ensure that he or she has a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) at all times during his or her stay in Canada especially before leaving Canada. A valid work permit only allows an applicant to work and have a legal stay in Canada.

A Post-Graduate Work Permit is issued only once. If an applicant wishes to apply for a new work permit, he or she has to get a valid job offer letter from a Canadian employer. The employer has to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Once the employer gets a positive LMIA, the applicant applies for a work permit along with the LMIA and job offer letter. However, in certain exceptional situations or jobs, LMIA is not needed.


Copyright 2015 Prateek Babbar, RCIC

Author disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general use only and does not constitute to any sort of legal consultation. Please note the info in this website is subject to change and should be consulted with a professional consultant or a government ministry before acting upon any information that may appear in this article. For any legal advice regarding specific case related to Canadian immigration matter, you can contact us at


Fake Schools and Fake Diplomas 101

Buyer beware

While the prevalence of diploma mills (fraudulent degrees/diplomas and fake higher education institutions) grows. Along with an increase in warnings about degree fraud, and attempts to track down and stop those involved/affected whether they were willing participants or unsuspecting participants. Sometimes it may be difficult to spot the difference between programs, which look fantastic on paper with a program that isn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Canada, and the individual provinces and territories, are pretty good at protecting consumers from fraudulent universities and colleges. However, fake degrees and diplomas granted by fake private career colleges are an equal concern in Canada as they are in the United States. Due to the fact that there is a stringent process to go through before a public university/college can receive official accreditation, you may be hard pressed to find fraudulent post-secondary institutions at this particular level. Nevertheless, consumers should still be aware of unmarketable, unrecognized programs, certificates, and individual courses.

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, compared with the United States, which has a centralized organization or body governing the education system for the entire country. In contrast, due to the British North America Act, 1867, later renamed the Constitution Act, 1982 (see Pierre E. Trudeau), each province and territory of Canada by law has the right to make its own laws with regards to education in that particular jurisdiction.

So depending on where you are currently living in Canada, or depending on where you are planning to settle upon arrival to Canada. It would be a good idea to check with the governing body of that particular province or territory.

Here is an official provincial government link to an official government website for the governing bodies – departments of education – for each province and territory in Canada.
It is important to ensure that your post-secondary school of choice is recognized or accredited by a reputable, objective, review agency or governing body. Reason being, that same agency or office is charged with setting educational, quality assurance standards for colleges and universities which fall within the parameters of their constitutional powers. For example, standards are and will be set with regards to: instructor qualifications, classroom equipment, instructional materials, etc. These are mandatory requirements and stipulations by which all private career colleges, for example, by which all private career colleges will be measured in order to be recognized, and therefore deemed accredited by the governing body to which it must answer should it not meet those same standards. Again, this depends on the provincial or territorial jurisdiction.

On the other hand, choosing a program or post-secondary institution which is not accredited by a governing educational body. Or, alternatively, choosing a program which ultimately is not recognized by the employment sector, can mean personal losses of financial resources, time resources, and a degree or diploma which is unfortunately worthless.

This article is the first of three articles put together to educate newcomers to Canada on what they should be looking for either for themselves or their loved ones, when it comes to choosing a post-secondary institution (college or university, career college). This information is not only important to those where it is their first time attending a college or university, or those who already have a formal education that is recognized by Canada. It is also important to those wishing to upgrade their skills and become more marketable. Or, alternatively, for those newcomers who are looking to gain Canadian educational credentials, or those looking to switch careers (second career).

Our second article provides readers with tips of what to look for when trying to determine whether your school of choice is legit or a simply a diploma mill.

Our third article discusses private career colleges, and online schools and programs in the same context.
While this information is extremely important to newcomers, anyone, regardless of immigration status thinking of attending or returning to school needs to consider these issues and information.

Immigrants' experience with arts, culture and entertainment talents.

Immigrant artists have talents that enrich their local communities and the entire U.S. culture.  Several communities of immigrant artists are thriving in many areas of the United States, while there are various organizations to support fledgling immigrant artists. The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) sponsors the Immigrant Artist Program (IAP).  The IAP Resource Directory connects immigrant artists with programs, services, and resources, and provides links to explore.  It also provides mentoring via connecting aspiring immigrant artists with artists who have an NYFA fellowship or have benefited from the program.  The free, monthly Con Edison IAP Newsletter via e-mail has cover features focused on artists.  It provides information about upcoming events and opportunities of special interest to immigrant artists, and features profiles of an artist or arts/immigrant services organization each month.  It also offers professional development tips in several languages, and includes a Mentoring Alumni Corner.

Like film and literature, the music of the United States reflects its multi-ethnic heritage in a complex of styles.  Among others, Indian musicians have influenced the American musical landscape. A prominent example is classical tabla virtuoso Ustad Zakir Hussain who popularized Indian percussive music. Besides music, The Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation exhibition displays an array of Indian arts.  The Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program will exhibit this multi-media arts show at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. for one year (February, 2014-August, 2015).  The exhibition will then travel via the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) to various venues till 2020.  It presents an assemblage of Indian arts from the 1960s to the present.  Beginning in 2008, Indian American individuals, families, and communities across the U.S. contributed stories, photos, documents, and artifacts.


Masum MomayaMasum Momaya;
Photo Credit: Diya TV. Permission: Masum Momaya

The curator of Beyond Bollywood, Masum Momaya explains:

The entryway to the exhibition features two old Bollywood songs, [… that] were two iconic songs for the generation that emigrated from India to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. And since we are taking “Bollywood” as an emotional, conceptual, and visual point of departure in the exhibition, we included these two songs to set a nostalgic tone.

The immigrant experience is also depicted in amateur short films annually at the San Francisco Immigrant Film Festival (SFIFF) in three categories: Narrative, Animated, and Documentary Short.  The SFIFF also offers free screening of films and videos to immigrant communities at various venues throughout the year.  There is additional information at their Facebook page.  Also worth visits while in the Bay area are the American Conservatory Theater that produces a range of dramatic works; and the San Francisco Ballet, which was the first professional ballet company in the U.S.  Several miles down the Pacific coast is the West coast’s analog to New York City.  Culturally diverse Los Angeles is home to Hollywood and the epicenter of the U.S. movie business; it also has an array of museums and arts productions.  The world famous Los Angeles Philharmonic is led by its music director–Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who has popularized Latin orchestral music alongside classical music in the U.S. while also serving as conductor for the Simon Bólivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela./

Some immigrant artists such as Favianna Rodriguez focus on expressing political views via their art.  Documentary filmmaker Rodriguez features activist artists working for social justice in Migration Is Beautiful.  In her 2013 interview via e-mail with Katherine Brooks for The Huffington Post, Rodriguez says that while politics can be a “grotesque way of humans shaping their existence,” art shapes human experience through beauty, form, reflection, and critical analysis.  She contends that artists have the responsibility to expose and critique but also to be visionary.  Rodriguez acknowledges that the butterfly symbol is not unique to her art, but she chose it because of the “transformative nature of the creature.”  She notes that the Monarch butterfly is an appropriate symbol for the beauty of migration and the right to move freely.  To underscore this symbolism, in one of her multimedia works she wears a large pair of extended artificial wings based on the design, color, and pattern of the Monarch butterfly’s wings.

Meanwhile, various U.S. universities have developed curricula, programs, and symposia to consider and express ideas about the arts as essential to the multidimensional immigrant experience.  The University of Chicago hosted such a symposium in 2011 and organized it in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts.  At this “Future of the City: The Arts Symposium” in 2011, Mark J. Stern presented his article, “The Arts and Social Inclusion.” Stern notes that access and opportunity are essential to participation in the arts, and indicates that engagement in the arts is integral to social inclusion as essential to human well-being.

For talented Indian immigrants, scholarships and foundation-funded grants are available in the U.S.  Current South Asian musicians such as Pakistani alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa remark on the process of assimilation into the U.S. culture, while reclaiming their ethnic identity.  Funded by a Guggenheim scholarship, Mahanthappa went to India to learn from master of South Indian Carnatic music, Kadri Gopalnath.  Mahanthappa subsequently created his own fusion of traditional Indian and American jazz styles in collaboration with composer, Rez Abbasi and Indian American pianist Vijay Iyer—all recent and notable South Indian immigrants.

As Haitian immigrant author Edwidge Danticat indicates in Joe Fassler’s 2013 article, “All Immigrants Are Artists” for the By Heart series in The Atlantic, “Re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on a par with the greatest works of literature.” Danticat notes ways that immigrant parents model artistry for their children during their struggle to survive; she mentions that this process, which often requires parental sacrifices, teaches a great deal.  She points out that it’s a big departure for a child to decide to become an artist facing a precarious career rather than choosing to pursue a profession with more security such as engineering, law, or medicine. Yet, Danticat indicates that learning to integrate into a new culture requires the incremental steps, courage, ingenuity, and effort to succeed that are analogous to the risk-taking, imagination, and toil to bring a creative endeavor to fulfillment.




Danticat focuses on three basic themes in her work: national identity, diasporic politics, and mother-daughter relationships.  In discussing her short story collection Krik? Krak! Danticat notes that writing is analogous to braiding hair, since it involves the weaving into a unified pattern of three separate strands.  She applies this principle to her written work about transnational communities, as she symbolically weaves together her three themes about identity, politics, and women in an effort to create a holistic narrative unity.


What should I know about having an American Social Security Number/Card?

Having a Social Security number can be a great benefit for you. It is a unique number that is used by the government to allow them to track your earnings as well as configure benefits owed to you. There are other circumstances where you may need a Social Security number. A Social Security number can make life in the U.S. a bit easier. As a permanent resident, it is recommended that you apply. However, you do not need to apply a second time if you requested a Social Security number when you originally applied for an immigrant visa and the date that you applied was October 2002 or later and, at the time of application, you were 18 years or older.

The benefit of having a Social Security number can allow you an easier transition to apply for: a bank account, renting or owning an apartment or house, utilities, and credit cards. Your number will also be used to establish credit and you can access credit reporting services to ensure that all information is correct. A good credit standing will give you the opportunity to apply for bank loans. Employers will also request your Social Security number so that all taxes and social security payments you make during your employment are recorded.

Applying for a Social Security number must be done in person, as the government organizations will need to speak with you and you will need to have some specific documentation. You can locate the nearest office at or call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 7 p.m.. You can also ask friends if they know of the nearest Social Security office to you. The offices have English and Spanish-speaking services available. Free interpreter services are available as well, but these services must be requested in advance. The Social Security office offers interpreters in 14 different languages. When you have set an appointment to get your Social Security number you must bring the following documents with you:

  • A birth certificate or a document showing when and where you were born, such as your passport
  • A document that demonstrates your immigration status which should include the permission to work in the United States. This document can be a passport with a visa label or immigration stamp or your Permanent Resident Card.

You will need to have an established permanent residence, as your Social Security card will be mailed to you at that address.  You should apply for your Social Security card within three (3) weeks of your arrival in the United States. If you moved from the address supplied to the Social Security office and did not contact them, you will need to call the office to inform them.  Early on when you’re settling down to life in the U.S., it is always recommended that you file a ‘forwarding address’ with the U.S. Postal Service. This ensures all important paperwork is forwarded to your new location.


Important To Note: A Social Security number assigned to you should be guarded carefully.  You should never share your number with anyone other than an official company or organization that you are applying to. People who get your Social Security number will have access to your personal information and this can lead to ‘identity theft’. Guarding your number will help to protect you. Do not carry your Social Security card with you. It is recommended that you memorize the number and keep your card in a location with other important papers, such as your passport.  It is also recommended that you shred any and all non-essential paperwork that may have your Social Security number included. Never place it in the trash can or recycling.

Do not give out your Social Security number to anyone on the phone or internet.  Specifically  any company, organization or person that you are not familiar with.

In the case of identity theft, the government has a hotline and a website for the Federal Trade Commission: 1-877-438-4338.



How to adapt to the social etiquettes in your new country of immigration.

The United States of America and Canada have one  of the most diverse populations in the world. These countries were founded on immigrants coming to their shores and bringing with them a rich array of traditions, values, foods and religions. Many of the original immigrants were from European and Asian countries, bringing people of all backgrounds. Even with this type of variation, there are significant differences in adapting to a new country and many areas have their own distinct ways of living their lives.

First Generation immigrants may initially find language to be the major barrier and it will be important for both adults and children to learn English as soon as possible. All aspects of life here are based on communicating in English.  Depending upon where an immigrant has settled, will also depend on learning the local traditions. These can include ways that people do business as well as the holidays they celebrate.

Learning the new culture of any country can seem overwhelming, but there are organizations that can help make the transition easier. Joining a local club or organization that has been established by people from your own country can introduce you to a variety of people who can provide assistance to both adults and children. Toastmasters International ( is an exceptional organization to introduce  immigrants with speaking, colloquial (slang) expressions, networking, education and revitalization. People share their experiences and help with ‘short cuts’ in learning to navigate what will make your life in Americas both enjoyable and successful.


Personal Space etiquette.

People from around the globe have cultural traditions and actions that are accepted and part of their society. In some of the countries that have larger populations, it is not uncommon to see people sitting and standing close to each other.  However, in Americas, people have a concept of ‘personal space’ meaning not standing too close. It is unsure if this practice was part of the old European traditions but it is considered rude here to stand very close to someone else when that person does not know you. Although there isn’t a defined ‘distance’ you can easily determine the amount of space you should put between yourself and others. A perfect example of this personal space might be standing in line at a grocery store or at a bank.

Be mindful of staring.

In many countries, it is considered normal to stare at individuals, places or items for a long period of time. This is part of the regular way of life and daily experience within that country. Part of American culture is the belief that staring at an individual or a group of people for a long time is not acceptable. Staring is equated to judging, as well as  potential aggressive or dangerous behavior. This information has been included so you know how long it’s appropriate to look at people. Though, never feel like you have to look down or avert your eyes in any manner that would be demeaning. The purpose of this is to alert you to a negative situation that can be avoided, simply by being aware.


Walking, Shopping, Restaurant customs.

While not everyone in Americas abides by these guidelines, it is important for you to know that many do (or that it’s generally expected). Traffic of any kind includes following the rules of the road and this includes walking across the street in the allocated (pedestrian) walk areas and when the traffic lights say it’s safe to walk. Some towns will give you a ‘ticket’ for what is called “Jay Walking” or walking when the light is showing ‘red’. Jay walking is walking outside of a designated pedestrian area. Following the flow of traffic in the same way that road traffic occurs is also the usual rule-of-thumb in retail environments. All retail establishments expect that you enter and stand in line if there are others ahead of you and respectfully wait. Restaurant servers usually receive a tip (or gratuity) as part of their service. In the U.S., a standard 15%-20% gratuity is common, however, tips are not expected for fast food locations or drive-throughs.


Ms. A. Gray - an International Student’s Experience in Canada

“I had no expectations. I was open to whatever would come.”

In mid-October 2014, I sat down to interview a close friend of mine, Ms. A Gray. Born in Nigeria to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Ms. Gray is an International student in Canada. She was raised in the UK, and has been in Canada since 2011. Ms. Gray has a Bachelor’s of Law and a Master’s in Theology (Christian). Having the opportunity to immigrate anywhere in the world, she was spurred on to come to Canada to connect with long lost family living in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). 

Prior to entering Canada, Ms. Gray attempted to have her education assessed to ensure it was on par with Canadian educational standards but was met with bureaucracy and red tape that could not be overcome until her arrival in Canada. She initially entered Canada on a working holiday program. 

At first, she said she wasn’t sure if Canada was where she wanted to be. However, as a law graduate she says it was quicker to get licensed here in Canada (a fellow common law jurisdiction) than it would have been in England – an obvious perk and advantage. Because of this, as well as always having a desire to become a lawyer – her father’s previous position back in Nigeria (he’s now a retired judge) – she credits Canada for giving her more opportunities compared to England, to work as an independent lawyer, legal entrepreneur. 

However, Ms. Gray didn’t always think this way. When she first came to Canada, she describes employment opportunities which varied, and experienced discrimination from customers and clients her employers serviced. However, she also describes experiences of warmth with those customers/clients – mainly seniors – as they were comforted by her English voice – a piece of home – and would often call her just to talk. These experiences occurred when Ms. Gray wasn’t fully aware that she could take the NCAs to qualify to practice law in Canada. So, she worked outside of her chosen field (law). 

Though, once she started working in the legal field (her facial expression changes as she tells me), she says it was and continues to be a most humbling experience working in her chosen field. Finally, she wasn’t being spoken ill of nor was she looked down on – her knowledge, skills and presence were revered. 

Ms. Gray was extremely excited to start working in the legal field. She had professional clothing she’d brought with her from England. However, one night while washing her clothing at a public Laundromat, all of her clothes were stolen from the machine. With all of her professional clothes gone, she had to find an alternative – she wore her good church clothes to work. 

Out of this experience, though, something truly amazing happened. A friend of Ms. Gray (also from England and attempting to qualify to practice as a nurse in Canada) called Ms. Gray one day. She asked her to meet her for lunch at a location downtown, but wouldn’t tell her why. When Ms. Gray met her friend, she was met with a beautiful surprise: her friend had purchased her a whole new wardrobe. Only a few items fit, but it was such a beautiful gesture and it was the thought that counts, she tells me with tears in her eyes as I pass her a box of facial tissue. 

Ms. Gray has passed all of her qualifying examinations as well as the LSUC’s barrister and solicitor’s licensing examinations. However, she still has some time to wait until she becomes a fully licensed lawyer in Canada. Regardless of her experiences here in Canada, she credits the NCA program for providing her an opportunity to be around like-minded people: 

“Most of the people I met in the program, were Canadians who’d gone abroad to study in places like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It really felt like a community. Despite my social experiences not being the best in Canada, many of the friends I have today I met through the qualifying program/exams.” 

Despite not knowing what the future holds for her, nor whether she will make Canada her permanent home, Ms. Gray remains optimistic in the face of the series of unfortunate events which have occurred in her life since coming to this country. As our interview comes to a close, she gestures that she’d like to add one more thing: 

“My faith is strong. I refuse to believe that God brought me here, to this country, to fail.”



What is Homeland Security?

The United States was founded on immigrants from around the world. It is what makes the country an incredibly diverse and rich heritage. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) helps to ensure information provided for immigrants is useful and accurate, allowing an awareness of citizenship understanding and benefits. As an organization it encourages the integrity of the immigration system by overseeing the lawful immigration into the United States through security, fraud detection and sound policies.

We are in a time of increased national security challenges and global threats and the USCIS is both mindful and responsible for providing immigration services which help to strengthen the nation. The responsibilities cover the advantages and privileges for those with a lawful presence in the U.S.

Each day, the USCIS:

  •        Welcomes 3,000 new citizens.
  •        Conducts 135,000 national security background checks.
  •        Completes 30,000 applications for various immigration benefits.
  •        Helps American parents adopt 125 foreign-born orphans.
  •        Answers 41,000 phone calls through toll-free customer service line, and serves 12,000 customers at field offices.
  •        Ensures the employment eligibility of more than 80,000 new hires in the United States.
  •        Fingerprints and photographs 11,000 applicants at 129 Application Support Centers.
  •        Grants permanent residence to 3,400 people and issues 7,300 Permanent Resident Cards.
  •        Processes 200 refugee applications around the world, and grants asylum to 40 people already in the United States.

Abiding by the lawful rules of the government is a requirement by all immigrants (and citizens). The laws may differ from the country of origin, so the U.S. government has created a ‘Toolkit’ that may be of assistance. This Toolkit contains publications, multimedia tools and a guide book so that immigrants can have some basic information. All organizations can register for the Toolkit to help their immigrant members. For more information go to.


There have been added security measures put in place to ensure that all individuals have a safe and secure experience. All people are required to comply with these additional security procedures. All State and Federal government institutions may have security ‘checkpoints’ which can include requirement to show identification, electronic screening, and personal searches through carry bags including purses.

State and Federal government officials work closely to identify and prosecute any and all individuals with immigration status that are involved in criminal activities. It is important that immigrants ensure that they do not associate themselves with any individuals or organizations in the U.S. that may be/ are involved with or formulating plans that are against the law. If anyone is deemed a threat to Homeland Security, there is a possibility that there will be a waiver of any and all laws that may have previously protected an immigrant as well as a U.S. citizen. Surveillance for anyone deemed a threat is fairly all encompassing and crosses into all activities both in person as well as involving communications of all types.

The special agents, attorneys, and officers involved in enforcement cover approximately four hundred federal statues and a diverse group of laws regarding smuggled, illegal, counterfeit and the moving of people and goods as well as money, drugs and guns into the United States. Additional responsibilities include repatriation of cultural treasures which are returned to their country of origin when they are illegally brought into the United States, and work to prevent the illegal exportation of U.S. technologies that could be repurposed or used to do harm. The prevention of terrorism is a high priority and it is important all immigrants comply with the guidelines and requirements to ensure that any dangerous individuals are identified prior to entering the United States and/ or that they are located for violation of customs laws and immigration.

For information go to