Not all Canadian designated learning institutions are equal

Not all Canadian designated learning institutions are equal

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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Dear Mr Brown,

I recently attended a recruitment seminar for a private university in Canada. However, my friends suggested that I contact you to determine whether I would be able to apply for permanent residence after the mandatory work requirement on a postgraduate work permit if I attended a private school. The school has the status of a designated learning institution (DLI).

— MP


Dear MP:

Thank you for your query. I have received many e-mails recently, pertaining to this topic.

A designated learning institution is a school in Canada to which a student must be accepted before he or she can qualify for a study permit. Some DLIs are public schools, while others are private schools.

All primary and secondary schools in Canada are automatically designated.


Post-graduation work permit (PGWP) programme


A PGWP is a document issued by the Government of Canada to eligible foreign students, which allows the bearer to work legally in Canada after completing studies.

The requirement is for a foreign student to graduate from an approved programme of study at an eligible post-secondary institution in Canada that is participating in the PGWP programme.


Not all DLIs are equal

It is important to note that not all DLIs will make a graduate eligible for a postgraduate work permit. In other words, attending a DLI is sufficient to obtain a student permit, but may not be sufficient to obtain a PGWP.

In general, publicly funded DLIs make one eligible for a PGWP. However, only certain types of private schools will make one eligible for a PGWP.

Foreign students in Canada are eligible for a work permit for post-graduation employment only if they have engaged in full-time studies for at least eight months at a:

1. Public post-secondary institution, such as a college, trade/technical school, university or CEGEP (in Quebec); or

2. Private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions; or

3. Private secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programmes of 900 hours or longer leading to a diplôme d'études professionnelles or an attestation de spécialisation professionnelle; or

4. Canadian private institution authorised by provincial statute to confer degrees, but only if the student is enrolled in one of the programmes of study leading to a degree as authorised by the province and not in all programmes of study offered by the private institution.

Whether a private DLI makes one eligible for a PGWP is usually based on meeting the requirements of (2) and (4) above. I have seen PGWP applications rejected because of the type of private DLI.

To make matters more complex, I know of cases in which one person actually obtained a PGWP, while another graduate from the same school and programme was denied the PGWP for being ineligible based on the type of private school.

Should you need assistance with admission to a public school which offers scholarships for graduate programmes with paid work experience, please contact me accordingly. It offers a much smoother and predictable transition.


Please visit for additional information on Canadian Permanent Residence programmes, including Express Entry, the Study and Work programme, visitor's visas or Appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to


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