The 2022 IEC season is open! Find out how to participate here.

IEC Canada work permits provide young people from around the world with the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. They include the popular Working Holiday work permits, sometimes referred to as a Working Holiday Visa in Canada.

There are over 30 countries participating in the International Experience Canada program. Find out what you need to be prepared for the next IEC season:

To begin with, here are some other useful resources:

If you are on an IEC work permit and want to remain in Canada, learn how and when you may be able to benefit from implied status.

What does this mean?

What does IEC, IRCC, and CIC stand for?

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  • IEC: International Experience Canada. It’s the name of the program through which several categories of IEC Canada work permits are offered to young people from over 30 countries, including the popular Working Holiday visa in Canada.
  • IRCC: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. They are the government department responsible for managing the IEC Canada program.
  • CIC: Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This is the old name for IRCC, though many people still use the ‘CIC’ acronym. You may see CIC and IRCC used interchangeably to describe the same thing.

What is a ‘pool’?

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A ‘pool’ is the name given to the different country and category types that are on offer. There are currently three categories of IEC Canada work permit – the popular IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada, the IEC Young Professional work permit, and the IEC International Co-Op work permit.

So for example, ‘Ireland: International Co-Op’, ‘UK: Working Holiday’, and ‘Germany: International Co-Op’ are all different types of pools.

You can become a candidate in as many pools as you are eligible for, though many candidates will likely only choose one.

What is an ‘invitation to apply’, or ‘ITA’?

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A selection of candidates will be selected from the pools, and invited at random, and at various intervals, to complete their application for an IEC Canada work permit. These will occur in what are known as ‘draws’, or ’rounds of invitations’.

When you receive notification of this via your account on the IRCC website, it is known as an ‘invitation to apply’, sometimes abbreviated to ‘ITA’.

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IEC Canada: The Basics

When does each IEC season begin and end?

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The 2022 IEC season opened for many countries on January 13, 2022. To find out the latest information about which countries’ pools are open and how many spots remain, please check our Working Holiday Newshub.

When is the best time to apply for an IEC Canada work permit?

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You will need to receive your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction in order to enter Canada and receive your work permit. Usually, this document is valid for 12 months.

Bear in mind that it can take some months to receive an invitation to apply, complete your application, and have this application assessed.

Let’s take the example of Karen, who wants to arrive in Canada in early 2023. Here are some of her options:

1. She could apply for a 2022 IEC Canada permit now. The pools opened in January, and if she’s lucky enough to receive an invite, she may have her POE letter within a month or two. This letter would be valid for 12 months, allowing her to arrive in Canada at any time within that 12-month period.

2. Apply for a 2023 permit, soon after the pools open, likely in November or December 2022. If she receives an invite in the months that follow, her application may be processed, and her POE letter sent. As the letter is still valid for 12 months, she can then arrive in early 2023.

As there is no definite time frame for if, and when, you will receive your POE letter, it’s not possible to offer complete guidance. The best advice is to plan early, and remember that the POE letter is valid for 12 months, so you will have plenty of time to use it, if and when you receive it.

How many work permits are released in each draw? How frequently do they take place?

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Both are million-dollar questions! IRCC say this ‘varies’ from draw to draw, and won’t commit to an exact figure, or an exact timeframe. The past two seasons have issued fewer invitations that normal due to COVID-19 restrictions, but invitations may pick up again in 2022. You can find the latest invitation figures in our Working Holiday News Hub.

If I am in more than one pool, under which category may I expect to be invited?

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IEC candidates may have only one IEC profile at any time. However, it is possible to be eligible for more than one IEC pool.

When you complete your profile, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) informs you which pools are available to you. For most candidates, only one pool is available – typically, the Working Holiday pool for your country of citizenship. However, you may also be eligible for the Young Professionals and / or International Co-op pool for your country as well. If so, you can submit your profile to any of these available pools. For example, you might be eligible to submit your profile to the Working Holiday and Young Professionals pools.

How IRCC issues Invitations to Apply

Invitations to Apply are issued in the following order:

  1. International Co-op (Internship)
  2. Young Professionals
  3. Working Holiday

If your profile is in an International Co-op (Internship) pool and Working Holiday pool, you’ll receive an Invitation to Apply for an International Co-op category. You’ll only receive an Invitation to Apply for a Working Holiday work permit if there are no spots left in the International Co-op (Internship) category.

How much time will I have to apply?

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Under the old first-come, first-serve system, allocations sold out in a matter of days – sometimes, even hours. This system was in use until 2015.

The system used currently by IEC Canada allows for people to become a candidate at any stage before work permits in their pool run out.

However, it is recommended to become a candidate as soon as you can, so that you can be exposed to as many rounds of invitations as possible. In countries like the UK, where demand far exceeds supply, it is crucial to create a profile early in the IEC season.

IRCC has committed to giving at least five days of notice before each country’s and category’s final rounds of invitations, which will mark the closure of that pool for the season.

Is there any way I can boost my chances of receiving an ITA?

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Selection is done randomly, and not on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. All eligible candidates stand an equal chance of being selected in any given draw. Furthermore, previous participation in IEC programs is not a consideration of the random invitations.

It is recommended that you apply early, so as to become exposed to a greater number of draws, as this may improve your likelihood of receiving an ITA.

How long will it take to process my IEC Canada work permit application?

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Once you enter the pool of candidates, you could be in the pool for several weeks or months before you receive an ITA. There is no guarantee that you will receive one.

After your ITA is received, and you’ve completed your work permit application and paid relevant fees, IRCC has committed to a service standard of eight weeks to process applications.

Delays can occur if your application is incomplete, or you don’t provided additional documentation that is requested.

Do I need to have work lined up before I go?

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For IEC Young Professionals and International Co-Op work permits, these will be employer-specific, and tied to the job you have lined up.

If you’re applying for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, these work permits are ‘open’, meaning you can find work with any eligible employer, and can arrange this employment after you arrive if you wish.

Are there any programs for people who are older than 35 years?

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Participation in IEC programs is for those aged between 18 and 30, or up to 35 for certain countries.

Take a look at our Immigration section for other options.

Can I apply even if I’m not from one of the listed participating IEC countries?

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This may be possible through an IEC Recognized Organization.

Can my child(ren) come with me to Canada when I have an IEC work permit

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IRCC states:

Under the IEC program requirements, applicants may not include any dependants (i.e., spouses, common-law partners or children) on their application to benefit from the IEC program. This means that an applicant and their family members may not benefit from the IEC program as a family unit under one IEC application. However, this does not prevent spouses or common-law partners, dependant(s) from submitting their own individual request to come to Canada (e.g., spouse may submit their own application to benefit from the IEC program).

IRCC has no specific policy prohibiting spouses and dependants of IEC participants from joining them in Canada. However, the spouse and dependant(s) must be admissible to Canada on their own merits.

Generally, minor children need to apply for a study permit from outside Canada, if they want to go to study in Canada. However, a minor child can go to school without a study permit if at least one parent (biological or adoptive) is permitted to work in Canada. IEC participants are one such group permitted to work in Canada.

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Applying for an IEC Canada work permit

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What steps are involved in the application process?

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There are four main steps to getting an IEC Canada work permit:

1. Determine eligibility.

2. Become a candidate, and become placed in a pool(s).

3. Receive an ITA.

4. Apply for a work permit and complete payments.

From then on, it’s a case of waiting for your application to be assessed, and respond to any queries IRCC may have for you.

See our working holiday visa in Canada guide for more detail.

How much does it cost? And at what point do I make a payment?

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The IEC Canada participation fee is CAD$150. For Working Holiday Visa in Canada participants, an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100 is also due.

For IEC Young Professionals and International Co-Op participants, your employer will need to pay a CAD$230 Employer Compliance Fee through the Employer Portal on the IRCC website.

Fees are due after you receive your ITA and you’ll be asked to submit this as part of your application for a work permit. Payment is required before your application is assessed.

Note: Payment is made via credit/debit card. There will be a currency conversion fee automatically applied. You will receive a receipt for your records but you do not need to sign anything.

Is there a way to apply for to IEC Canada as a couple or a group, rather than waiting to see if you both get your ITA separately?

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Each participant must submit their candidate profile based on their own merit. There is no mechanism to apply to the pool as a group.

Learn more about IEC visa applications for couples and groups.

I’m a dual citizen. Can I apply for IEC Canada work permits for both citizenships?

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Yes. You’ll need to have a valid passport for the country you’re applying under, and provide a letter of explanation which mentions you’re a dual citizen, and that your previous work permit was issued under your other country of citizenship.

Is the 2022 season open?

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Yes. The 2022 IEC season opened on January 13, 2022. Please follow our Working Holiday Newshub for the latest updates regarding the 2022 season.

Documents and planning

Do I really need health insurance? I heard they never even check.

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While many newcomers are not asked by immigration authorities to provide proof of health insurance, it’s not true to say that nobody gets checked.

You run the risk of not being given a work permit if you don’t buy some – is it worth letting all your effort go to waste over one detail? Furthermore, we encourage you to be responsible as an adult, and not to leave your family to pick up the tab on expensive medical bills if something goes wrong.

The good news, is we’ve compared several options for the IEC Canada work permits for you, and you can shop around easily for health insurance for Canada at this link.

How long do I need health insurance for? Can I buy a few months first, and extend it later?

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The rules on this are clear – you need to have health insurance for the full duration of your visa.

You may be asked when entering Canada to provide evidence of this. If your health insurance is shorter than the full duration of your visa, you may be issued a work permit to match the expiry date of your health insurance.

Where this occurs, you will not be able to apply for an extension to your work permit by buying new, longer health insurance.

For example, if you want a two-year work permit, then you need to be able to present evidence you bought a two-year health insurance policy when you land in Canada.

The official guidelines are on our Work and Travel in Canada: IEC extensions page.

Do I need health insurance for a second participation on IEC?

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Yes.

You must have health insurance for Canada for a second participation of IEC. Provincial health cover (e.g. MSP in British Columbia or OHIP in Ontario) is not accepted as it does not cover repatriation costs (i.e. costs incurred to fly you home in event of serious illness or death).

Insurance must cover the full duration of the work permit. Find out where to buy health insurance for Canada here.

What if my police cert doesn’t arrive in time to submit my application?

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You may upload a copy of the receipt showing you requested one, or a screenshot of the confirmation page or email you received when you ordered it online.

An IRCC Processing Officer will later request to see your police cert, and will give you a deadline which you must meet. If you don’t, then your application will be refused.

I need to upload multiple police certs. How can I do this?

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You’ll need to merge them into a single PDF so you can upload the multiple documents as a single file. You can do this at a website such as this*.

*Please note Moving2Canada takes no responsibility for the safety and availability of third-party websites. Use the link at your own risk.

My bank won’t provide me with a recent statement. How can I provide proof of funds?

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A letter from your bank, on official letterhead, will suffice. It must be issued no more than one week before your departure for Canada, clearly show your account balance (of more than CAD$2,500), and be signed (and preferably stamped).

The original letter must be provided – not a photocopy.

I’ve heard that submitting biometrics is required for IEC applicants. What’s this about?

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Submitting biometrics (including electronic fingerprints) is mandatory for work permit applicants.

IEC applicants applying within Canada can give their biometrics from within Canada by appointment only, saving applicants time, money, and stress as they apply for new status in Canada.

The biometrics requirement has already caused confusion and disruption. That’s why we have created this guide on biometrics for IEC applicants, so that you can be prepared.

What’s a UCI number?

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This is your Unique Client ID. If you’ve applied for IEC Canada previously, you’ll have been given one by IRCC.

If you haven’t been issued one previously, you can leave this field blank.

What advice do you have for filling out the IMM1295 form?

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UCI: If you have not applied to immigrate to Canada before you will not have a UCI (Unique Client ID) number and leave this field blank.

You will have a UCI number if you have applied before. The UCI number is on your previous immigration documentation, including the work permit that was stapled into your passport on arrival.

Intended Work in Canada: This only applies to IEC Young Professionals and International Co-Op participants, who have arranged employment before they arrive.

For the Working Holiday Visa in Canada, you do not need arranged employment. Write “unknown”.

Employment: If you do not have enough room to list all of your employment history, you can add more in a separate Word document, and submit it along with the optional documents under Letter of Explanation.

Other advice:

  • If some of the questions do not apply to you, write “N/A” to show that you have read the form.
  • Upon completion, enter the date on the form and click VALIDATE. You do not need to sign this form. You must then save the form to your desktop and upload.

What address should I use for my ‘mailing address’ and ‘residential address’ on my IEC application form?

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The “residential address” on the IEC Canada application is the address where you are currently residing.

For example, if you are currently in Canada on an IEC work permit and are submitting a new application, it is recommended you insert your Canadian residential address on the application form in this field.

If I receive a POE letter and don’t use it, can I apply again?

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If you receive a POE letter, and don’t use it before its expiry date, this will still count as one participation in IEC Canada. So if citizens of your country can only participate in IEC once, then you will not be eligible to participate again.

See our International Experience Canada participating countries list for more details on the number of times citizens from your country can participate in IEC.

What kinds of jobs can I have with an IEC work permit?

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You can work in many different areas. Many participants find work in the tourism and hospitality industries, such as restaurants, pubs, cafes, hotels, and resorts, where employers may be more willing to offer temporary work for shorter periods of time.

If you have the right education, experience or certifications, you can also work in fields such as:

  • science
  • law
  • health
  • education
  • commerce
  • communications

If you are applying under the Young Professionals category, your job must add to your professional development. This means that it must be classified as a National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Type Level 0, A or B.

Arriving in Canada

I have my POE letter and flight booked. What do I need on entering Canada?

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Please note that Canada has introduced stricter entry requirements for IEC participants during COVID-19, including the requirement that all IEC participants are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Refer to our Working Holiday News Hub for full details.

Prior to COVID-19, IEC participants only required the following to enter Canada:

  • Health insurance for Canada, covering the entire duration of your IEC Canada work permit.
  • A bank statement (no more than seven days old) showing proof of funds in the amount of CAD$2,500.
  • Up-to-date passport.
  • Your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction letter from the IEC.
  • Any additional paperwork you may be requested to bring.

Be prepared to provide the address where you’ll be spending your first few nights in Canada. This could be a friend’s house, or a hostel, if you don’t yet have your own long-term accommodation sorted.

Who do I show my POE letter to?

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You’ll need to present it to a Border Officer at your port of entry. Staff on-site will be able to assist you.

Note that your port of entry will be the first place you arrive in Canada, for example:

  • The Canadian border crossing, if driving from the United States.
  • The first airport you land in within Canada’s borders. If you’re flying from London to Calgary, via a connecting flight in Toronto, then Toronto will be your port of entry, and staff in Toronto will provide you with your work permit (once you’re eligible).

How long do I have to enter Canada once my application is processed?

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After your application is processed, you typically have one year to enter Canada and activate your work permit.

If your application is successful, you will receive a Port of Entry, or POE, letter of introduction. This letter indicates the exact date by which you must enter Canada.

Note: ‘Port of Entry’ is the technical term for an official border crossing, e.g. an airport, ferry port, land border with the United States.

Can the expiry date on my POE letter of introduction be extended?

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The POE (Port of Entry) Letter of Introduction is the document you’ll present to an immigration official at a airport, ferry port, or land border in Canada to receive your IEC Canada work permit.

In normal years, POE letters cannot be extended. However, due to COVID-19, special measures were put in place allowing certain IEC participants to extend their POE letters. This does not guarantee that 2021 IEC participants will be eligible for extensions. Refer to our Working Holiday Newshub for full details.

Note: ‘Port of Entry’ is the technical term for an official border crossing, e.g. an airport, ferry port, land border with the United States.

What’s an eTA, and do I need one?

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eTA stands for Electronic Travel Authorization. Passengers travelling to Canada by air may be required to make an online application for an eTA before they’ll be allowed enter the country.

It costs CA$7 fee and must be completed in advance of your flight. The eTA will last for five years, or until the expiration date of the visitor’s passport if this is sooner.

Foreign workers, including IEC participants, from Canada visa-exempt countries will automatically be issued an eTA, along with their Port of Entry Letter of Introduction. Check your letter to ensure it mentions approval of your eTA before you depart, because you need this to board your flight to Canada. The eTA is electronically linked to your passport, so if you have changed your passport since receiving your POE Letter of Introduction, you need to apply for a new ETA.

There is only one country within the IEC program that is not currently visa-exempt: Costa Rica. If you’re an applicant from Costa Rica, a different sort of visa will be required, approval for which should be clear on your POE Letter of Introduction.

Can I leave Canada and re-enter during my IEC work permit?

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In normal years, yes, you may exit and re-enter Canada as often as you please. You will need to ensure that your health insurance policy permits this.

However, during COVID-19, Canada has tightened entry requirements. You should consult the latest travel restrictions on our Working Holiday News Hub before planning to exit and re-enter Canada, as you may be required to obtain COVID-19 testing and/or undergo a quarantine upon arrival.

Additionally, make sure you bring your passport and work permit with you so you can present this when you return to Canada.

Can I study in Canada while on an IEC work permit?

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Yes, but only for up to six months.

You are allowed to enroll in individual courses under any of the IEC categories (Working Holiday, Young Professionals, International Co-op). The course(s) must be completed within a six-month period. The course(s) also must not be part of a program lasting longer than six months, such as a two-year program or four-year degree. If the course or program is longer than six months, you will need to apply for a study permit.

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Problems with your IEC Canada work permit

IRCC sent me a document and it’s blank! How do I fix this?

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If you’re seeing a message like the one below, or are otherwise struggling to view your document, save a copy of it to your desktop, and open it from there.

IEC Canada error message

What if my passport expires during my IEC Canada work permit?

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For participants whose passport expires before their 24 months elapses, they may have received an earlier expiry date on their IEC Canada work permit to match the expiry date on their passport.

Where this occurs, and assuming all other eligibility criteria are met, the visa-holder can submit an application to amend their work permit, up to the maximum permitted duration from the date of entry.

The official guidelines are listed under ‘Scenario 2’ on our Work and Travel in Canada: IEC extensions page.

I’m not yet in Canada, but my passport is due to expire soon. What should I do?

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If you’re still in the pool, and have not yet received an ITA: Withdraw your current profile, and submit a new profile using your updated passport details.

If you’ve submitted your work permit application, and don’t yet have your POE Letter of Introduction:

Send a scan of your new passport to IRCC, and provide your old passport number, and your application ID number (found in the acknowledgement letter).

If you have received your POE Letter of Introduction:

The IEC Canada work permit you received is still valid. However, you’ll need to take these steps:

  • You’ll need a new eTA (or visa, if you’re from a visa-required country).
  • Upon arrival in Canada, provide a photocopy of your old passport, and explain that you have obtained a new passport.
  • If you changed your passport because of marriage or divorce, bring a copy of official documents proving this.

When you receive your work permit on arrival in Canada, ensure all information on it is correct.

The expiry date on my work permit was brought forward because my passport expires soon. How do I fix this?

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Let’s take an example. David landed in Canada in July 2018. He was eligible for a two-year work permit, and expected to be allowed in Canada until July 2020.

But because his passport expires in December 2019, the expiry date on his IEC Canada work permit was brought forward to December 2019.

It is possible for David to get the expiration date on his work permit extended to July 2020, so long as other eligibility requirements are still met.

The official guidelines are on our Work and Travel in Canada: IEC extensions page.

I have an urgent query and need to talk to someone in the IRCC. How do I contact them?

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Case-specific inquiries can be made at this page.

Extending your IEC Canada work permit

Can I extend my IEC work permit?

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As a general rule, the answer is no.

However, there are some limited circumstances where it is possible to do so. See our Work and Travel in Canada: IEC extensions page for more.

My IEC Canada work permit expires soon. My employer has applied for a LMIA on my behalf but this could take months. Can I continue working beyond the expiry date?

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No.

Implied status will only come into effect for the application of a work permit, not the LMIA, which is a separate document. A LMIA is issued by Service Canada, a completely different body from IRCC.

If you have LMIA acceptance, it will be approved and you can continue to stay in Canada on the conditions of the new work permit. If there is no LMIA on file, the application will be refused quickly and you will have to change status to remain as a visitor until the LMIA is issued and a new work permit can be applied for.

Learn more about IEC and implied status in Canada.

How do I apply for a second IEC Canada work permit when I’m already in Canada?

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Where a second participation in IEC is permitted, the application for a second IEC work permit should be completed in the same way as a new applicants. This will be a second participation in the program, not an extension of the original permit.

See our International Experience Canada participating countries list for more details.

My question wasn’t answered.

Here’s where you can get further help:

1. Ask members of our Moving2Canada IEC Facebook Group.

2. Visit our International Experience Canada section to read our full range of articles.

3. If you need to contact IRCC urgently, you can do so at [email protected], or submit a case-specific inquiry at this page.

For further advice, sign-up to Moving2Canada’s emails to get the latest immigration news, job updates, and more!

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