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Wondering if you can work and travel in Canada for longer? Did you receive an IEC work permit that was shorter in duration than you expected? There are some scenarios where corrections may be made. Find out if any of these situations apply to you.

Immigration authorities have clarified when extensions can be granted for participants of the International Experience Canada program.

For most participants, it’s not possible to increase what’s known as the “validity period” of your work permit. These are initially granted to allow people work and travel in Canada for periods of up to 24 months.

However, certain exceptions to this rule apply. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) published a set of instructions on which outline when work permits can be extended beyond what was initially issued at the port of entry.

They have also clarified the rules on when these IEC work permits cannot be extended.

The scenarios below relate to extensions of a single IEC work permit. Some participants may be eligible to apply for multiple IEC work permits, and we cover this in our list of International Experience Canada participating countries.

Moreover, this page is intended for those who have reason to believe that their IEC work permit validity is shorter in duration than it should be. If you simply want to stay in Canada after an IEC work permit, please visit our immigration guide

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. Find out about IEC and implied status.

Scenario 1: Administrative errors were made relating to the validity period of the IEC work permit.

Occasionally, border officers may issue an IEC work permit with an incorrect expiry date.

Citizens from some countries, like Ireland and Australia, can receive IEC work permits allowing them to work and travel in Canada for 24 months. This is so long as their passport and health insurance is valid for the duration of this term.

Citizens from other countries, like Germany, can only receive an IEC work permit for up to 12 months.

Moving2Canada readers have told us of instances where they have received a 12-month IEC work permit, despite being eligible for a 24-month visa.

Where an example like this occurs, the work permit-holder can apply for an extension, up to the maximum duration allowed from the date of entry.

“Under this scenario, the employer is not required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee,” the IRCC explained in its instructional notes.

“The IEC client remains exempt from having to pay the work permit processing fees and participation fees.” A paper application can be sent using the instructions on Guide 5553.

Scenario 2: Validity period of the passport is shorter than the validity period of the offer of employment.

(Note: This scenario may only affect IEC participants under the Young Professionals or International Co-op categories. Working Holiday participants may not be affected under this scenario.)

For participants whose passport expires before the intended end date of their IEC work permit, they may have received an earlier expiry date which matches the expiry date on their passport.

Let’s take an example. Kyle arrived in Canada in 1 October 2017, and was eligible for a work permit that allowed him to work and travel in Canada for two years. However, his passport’s expiry date was November 10, 2018. This meant his work permit also had an expiry date of November 10, 2018, instead of 1 October 2019.

Where this occurs, and assuming all other eligibility criteria are met, people like Kyle can submit an application to amend their IEC work permit, up to the maximum permitted duration from the date of entry. In Kyle’s case, that’s 1 October 2019.

If applicable, the employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. However, the participant will not have to pay IEC work permit processing and participation fees.

A paper application can be sent to the Case Processing Centre in Edmonton, using the instructions on Guide 5553.

Scenario 3: Validity period of the participant’s health insurance is shorter than the validity period of the offer of employment.

(Note: This scenario may only affect IEC participants under the Young Professionals or International Co-op categories. Working Holiday participants may not be affected under this scenario.)

One of the rules of the IEC program is that you must have health insurance for Canada that covers the entire period you will work and travel in Canada.

Where the participant chooses to buy coverage that is shorter than the maximum permitted duration, border officers may issue an IEC work permit that matches the expiry date of the health insurance.

Participants will not be able to apply to amend the valid period of their work permit in this instance.

“The IEC participant cannot increase the validity period of their work permit,” IRCC explains.

“If they receive a work permit with a shorter validity period due to the length of their insurance coverage, they are not eligible to apply to increase the validity period of their work permit at a later date.”

Scenario 4: Validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed.

(Note: This scenario may only affect IEC participants under the Young Professionals or International Co-op categories. Working Holiday participants may not be affected under this scenario.)

Where an offer of employment is shorter than the maximum permitted duration, the participant may receive an IEC work permit that expires on the same date of the offer of employment.

Participants may apply to extend the validity period of their work permit, allowing them to work and travel in Canada for longer. This is provided the foreign national receives a new offer of employment, for the same job, at the same location, from the same employer. The extension can be granted up to the maximum permitted duration from the date of entry.

It will be possible in this instance to purchase additional health insurance after arrival in Canada. Proof of this coverage will have to be submitted. An extension on this basis may only be granted once per IEC participation.

The employer will be required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The work-permit holder will not have to pay additional IEC work permit and participation fees.

A paper application can be sent to the Case Processing Centre in Edmonton, using the instructions on Guide 5553.

Scenario 5: Validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed, with changes in working conditions.

(Note: This scenario may only affect IEC participants under the Young Professionals or International Co-op categories. Working Holiday participants may not be affected under this scenario.)

This is similar to scenario four, but in this scenario, the new offer of employment is at a different address. The job and employer remain the same.

IRCC will not accept applications to extend the validity period of the IEC work permit in such cases. The IEC participant will not be eligible to work and travel in Canada for longer.

“This is a change of condition in the IEC participation,” IRCC explains.

“Changing location but keeping the same employer and duties is seen as a new participation, as the IEC participant’s work permit is issued for a specific employer, at a specific location.”

However, if your country allows multiple IEC participations, then you may be able to apply for your second work permit if you still meet the qualifying criteria. View our list of International Experience Canada countries for full details.

Scenario 6: Need to remove medical restrictions

If you received a work permit or port of entry letter without undergoing a medical exam and would now like to work in a job that requires one, you need to have your medical restrictions removed. There are two ways to do this, depending on whether or you have already arrived in Canada.

  • If you have a port of entry letter and have not yet left your country of residence:
    • You can get an up-front medical exam, which means that you are getting a medical exam before you have been asked to do so by an immigration officer.
    • You can bring proof that you have undergone the medical exam and provide this proof to the border services officer when entering Canada. The border services officer will be able to adjust the conditions on your work permit.
  • If you have a work permit and are already in Canada, you can apply to change your conditions by:
    • getting an up-front medical exam, which means that you are getting a medical exam before you have been asked to do so by an immigration officer,
    • sending the required paper application to the case processing centre, using the in-Canada work permit application form,
    • including a letter of explanation that asks to have the limiting conditions removed from your work permit (for example, remove the condition “not authorized to work in 1) child care, 2) primary or secondary school teaching, 3) health services field occupations”),
    • paying the open work permit fee (applicable only to Working Holiday participants). You are not required to pay the work permit processing fee or an IEC participation fee.

If your work permit expires before IRCC processes their application, you can continue to work in Canada until you receive a decision on your application to remove medical conditions.

Further help as you work and travel in Canada

Work and Travel in Canada

Please explore our many resources to help you plan your application. Research is crucial as you plan for success while you work and travel in Canada.

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About the author:

Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of experience and a strong legal background. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.

Citation "Work and Travel in Canada: Can I extend my IEC work permit?." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation