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Extending Your Stay in Canada as an International Student: Options and Pathways

With recent changes in Canadian immigration policies and increased competition for permanent residency, international students in Canada are feeling the pressure to find legal ways to extend their stay. Thankfully, extending your stay in Canada is achievable with the right information and pathways. Here, we outline the most common and feasible options for international students to extend their stay legally, while also considering future permanent residency opportunities.

Toronto skyline with CN Tower in foreground

1. Extend Your Student Status

If you’ve completed a one-year course, you can apply for a second course and extend your study permit. Instead of immediately claiming your post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you can use the option of program stacking to maximize your PGWP duration, which is only granted once in a lifetime. Typically, a one-year study program grants a one-year PGWP, while a two-year program can extend it to three years.

Opting for a Master's program can also help extend your stay and earn more points for permanent residency through specific provincial nominee programs (PNPs) such as Ontario’s Masters Graduate stream or the Express Entry system. Be mindful of the new PGWP eligibility requirements introduced by the Canadian Immigration Department as of May 15, 2024. To extend your stay, apply for a study permit extension based on the new study program offer letter at least 30 days before your current permit expires. Don’t forget to renew your social insurance number and health insurance with your extended study permit.

2. For Those on an Expiring PGWP

If your PGWP is expiring and you don’t have enough points for permanent residency, you can switch your status back to an international student by enrolling in a new study program. However, note that you cannot claim a PGWP again after completing this second program. Choose a study program that leads to in-demand occupations or helps boost your permanent residency score.

Alternatively, you can apply for a closed work permit, which requires a job offer and a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from a Canadian employer. This route can be challenging as not all students can secure a job offer, and some employers may charge high fees for LMIAs. It might be more cost-effective to return to student status rather than paying exorbitant fees for LMIAs.

3. Extend Your Stay as a Visitor

Another option is to apply for a visitor visa, which is valid for 10 years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. This visa allows you to stay in Canada for up to six months at a time. You can extend this stay by applying for a visitor record. However, note that visitors are not permitted to work legally in Canada, and any work done under the table cannot be counted towards permanent residency programs.

Some visitors obtain a U.S. B1/B2 visa, exit Canada for 24 hours, and then return for another six months without applying for an extension. While this is a workaround, it’s a legal way to extend your stay in Canada temporarily.


Whether through additional education, work permits, or visitor status, there are multiple pathways to extend your stay in Canada. Careful planning and staying updated on the latest immigration news and policies are crucial to making informed decisions that align with your long-term residency goals.

Stay informed and keep exploring your options to continue your journey in Canada with Red Migration.



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