Every year, Canada welcomes thousands of ambitious young workers and graduates under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. IEC participants come from more than 30 countries under one of three categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-Op.
Naturally, many participants hope to remain in Canada beyond the duration allowed on their IEC work permit. How this may be achieved depends on one’s circumstances, and there is no single pathway to carry participants through to another status in Canada; there are many potential pathways. Circumstances may include the participant’s age, nationality, location, duration and skill level of Canadian work experience, whether or not a job has been offered and what the terms of that job offer may be, civil status, and more.
Applying for another IEC work permit is not the same as extending an existing work permit; you can only extend or make changes to your IEC work permit in very specific situations, outlined here.
The combination of a nationality and a category is known as a ‘pool’, and candidates must first enter a pool (or pools, as the case may be) before being invited to apply for a work permit. Whether or not an IEC participant may apply for another IEC work permit depends on his or her country of citizenship and whether or not he or she is eligible under another category.
For example, a German citizen on a Working Holiday work permit may be eligible for a subsequent work permit under the Young Professionals category, as long as he or she fulfils the criteria of that category (including having a skilled job offer and being young enough to apply). An Irish citizen on a Working Holiday work permit, however, is not eligible to obtain a subsequent work permit under the Young Professionals category, even if he or she has a skilled job offer and satisfies the age requirement (though Irish citizens may obtain a second IEC participation under the International Co-op category). For UK citizens, this question is moot — there are no Young Professionals or International Co-op categories for them, only Working Holiday.
What is true for one group of IEC participants may not necessarily be true for another group. To find out which categories are available for your country and find out if repeat participation is allowed, see this page.
In some cases, IEC participants may be eligible for another Canadian work permit outside the scope of the IEC program. Canada offers a wide variety of work permit options under two broad umbrella programs, namely the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP, of which the IEC initiative is a part). Work permits issued under the TFWP are supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a document secured by a Canadian employer to show that no Canadian citizens and permanent residents are ready, willing, and able to perform a given position, and so the employer may hire a qualified foreign worker. The process of securing a LMIA typically involves a rigorous and often lengthy recruitment process, which involves the position being advertised widely and the payment of a $1,000 application fee.
Work permits issued under the IMP are exempt from the LMIA process.
Moving from one work permit to another
Let’s hypothesise an IEC participant. She is not eligible, for whatever reason — such as those outlined above with respect to nationality and previous IEC participation — to obtain another IEC work permit. Her employer in Canada, however, wants her to continue working, and she also wishes to stay. At this point, she may not yet be eligible to secure permanent resident status, or she may be eligible but is struggling to meet the cut-off threshold in Express Entry draws. Suffice to say, both she and the employer are exploring alternative routes to keeping her in Canada on a temporary basis without her having to leave her position or the country.
Having reviewed their options, they decide to proceed with an application for a LMIA. However, it may be the case that the worker’s current IEC work permit may end before a decision is reached on the new work permit and LMIA applications.
This is just one example of where the worker may benefit from what is known as implied status.
If you are an IEC participant and have applied for a non-IEC work permit — such as an LMIA-supported work permit, as in the example above — you can continue to work under implied status as long as it is for the same employer under the same conditions.
See this from IEC Canada confirming the above information.
What is implied status?
If a worker, visitor, or student applies to extend his or her status in Canada at least 30 days before that status expires, he or she may legally remain in Canada until a decision is made on the application. In such a scenario, the person has implied status.
This provision is not applicable in all cases. For example, the government of Canada states that ‘you may have come to Canada as a worker and then applied for a study permit. If so, you must stop working once your work permit expires. After that, you cannot work or study until you get a new permit.’
A complete list of when and where and to whom it may apply would be far too lengthy for this article. It is a good idea for anyone considering whether they can or should benefit from implied status to check the various government sources. Beyond this, it is also worth considering getting an expert opinion from an immigration representative who has experience in such matters (though this step is not mandatory).
The government of Canada states that with implied status, the law implies you are a temporary resident. The implied status remains until the government decides on your new work permit application. If you applied for a work permit extension before your work permit expired, you can keep working under the same conditions as your existing permit until a decision is made on your application.
When a new work permit is issued, it typically includes a piece of text under ‘Remarks/Observations’ stating: ‘Temporary resident status maintained as per R183(6).’ This number denotes the relevant section of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which guides government regulations on immigration matters. This section on implied status can be read in full here.
It is important to note that if someone on implied status leaves and re-enters Canada, the period of implied status ends, regardless of whether the new work permit or study permit, as applicable, has been issued.
What’s the issue?
Most of the time, such as in the section above about what implied status is, the government of Canada is clear and concise in its communication. However, sometimes, and presumably inadvertently, a degree of ambiguity or miscommunication occurs. In particular, this can happen when social media becomes a factor.
Recently, on February 13, 2018 the government of Canada’s own IEC Twitter page posted the tweet below in response to a question posed by another Twitter user.
Taken at face value, it appears that the government channel is saying that an IEC participant cannot profit from implied status. It is there in black and white, and so it is understandable that readers and stakeholders would take this to mean that in all instances, an IEC participant cannot profit from implied status.
However, this is a case where context is key, as the full image below reveals. The names and images of the people involved in the discussion have been hidden for confidentiality reasons.
It is worthwhile to note the following three important things about the short discussion above:
- IEC Canada first told the person who asked the original question that they could keep working in Canada until a decision is made on the work permit application. This is the very definition of implied status.
- After being prompted a few times by another Twitter user (not the person who posed the original question), IEC Canada replied again with a different answer – the opposite of its original answer, and eight months after the question was first posed.
- It is crucial to note that the two Twitter users who posed questions in the discussion were asking very specifically about a scenario where a worker wishes to transition from an IEC Working Holiday work permit to an IEC Young Professionals work permit. The IEC Canada response should be read in that context alone.
Read alone (i.e. not as part of the series of tweets) it is easy to misinterpret the IEC Canada response as meaning that IEC participants can never get implied status in Canada. However, as the government of Canada’s own regulations and the testimony of many IEC participants shows, this is not the case. If one was to take a screen shot, crop the image to show only the final tweet, and share it, as many did, it is also easy to understand why this misunderstanding could spread quickly and widely.
The IEC Canada Twitter channel could, and one could argue should, have clarified in the final tweet above that an IEC participant cannot profit from implied status in this instance or in the scenario outlined, or similar. In other words, while it may not be possible to benefit from implied status while transitioning from an IEC Working Holiday work permit to an IEC Young Professionals work permit, that does not mean there is a blanket ban on IEC participants benefitting from implied status in other scenarios.
“The phrase ‘Implied Status’ causes confusion for temporary residents, and sometimes even for the immigration authorities themselves. The confusion is compounded when we talk about the IEC. It’s understandable to a degree, as the IEC class is based around agreements between Canada and other countries; not all agreements are the same, not all requirements for participants are the same,” states Karen Howley, an immigration lawyer with Alberta-based law firm Chapman Riebeek.
“It’s a complex area, there are many variations depending on an individual’s particular circumstances. If you are facing these questions, just know that you do not have to struggle with them on your own.”
- Whether or not you can benefit from implied status depends largely on your circumstances and objectives. Factors include the status you currently have in Canada and the status you wish to obtain. Check authoritative sources; these may include original government sources (i.e. not just social media posts) and/or information and advice provided by an immigration representative.
- If you see a tweet, Facebook post, or other social media commentary issued by a government source, or any source for that matter, consider whether you are reading a cropped image of it or not. If you are, try to source the original discussion so as you can see it in its full context. If you can’t find it, type the words displayed in the image file into a search engine such as Google. This may find it for you.
- A single tweet or similar post may not tell the full story. Check the government regulations to corroborate the post.
- Beware the power of groupthink, especially in online forums. Check the consensus of a group discussion with government sources and/or trusted third parties.
- The Moving2Canada IEC Facebook Forum is a vibrant discussion board where members not only discuss their work permit applications, but also their experience of Canada and the job market.
- IEC Frequently Asked Questions.
- IEC eligibility and application process.
- IEC News Hub – get the latest information for your pool.
- IEC participating countries list.
- IEC travel insurance: recommended vendors (note that insurance is mandatory for IEC participants).
- Canadian Permanent Residency: this section contains information about Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs, and Family Class programs.
- Register with Moving2Canada for regular IEC and immigration updates.
- If you and/or your employer have any outstanding questions or difficulties with the work permit process or permanent residence application process, Moving2Canada has a short list of recommended regulated immigration consultants who can provide crucial answers and guidance. If you choose to retain the services of a consultant, the cost of the initial consultation will be deducted from the balance of fees.
This page has been written in response to discussion among the Moving2Canada community on the subject of whether participants under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program may enjoy implied status as they transition to another Canadian work permit. Our sources include the government of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA, the regulations governing Canadian immigration policy), trusted immigration representatives, and case study experiences from among the community, including those of the writer.