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You have come to Whistler on a work permit and want to stay. You are not alone. This guide on how to stay in Whistler, Canada after your current work permit ends will help you on your way.

If your initial journey to Whistler was in any way typical, it is likely that you came to Canada under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. Every year, thousands of IEC participants arrive in the Whistler area with open work permits in hand, ready to hit the slopes and earn some money to keep them going.

IEC Working Holiday participants from some countries, including Australia, the UK, Ireland and France, can enjoy up to 24 months in Canada working for any employer. Other participants may receive a work permit for up to 12 months.

If you did not come to Canada under the IEC program, don’t worry — this guide on how to stay in Whistler after your work permit ends is equally applicable to you and your situation.

Before jumping in

If you are reading this before arriving in Whistler, or with many months remaining on your current Canadian work permit, have a long think about your objectives.

While the devil is in the detail, note that if your short-term goal is to work a casual part-time job without moving on to more skilled, secure employment and your medium- to long-term goal is to stay in Whistler or any other location in Canada, possibly forever, you may have to choose between these goals either now or very soon. By the time you begin pursuing the goal of immigrating to Canada permanently, your previous choices may make that goal more difficult, even impossible.

If you are reading this and your work permit expires next Tuesday, we are not here to scold you. You may still be able to stay in Canada, but you may have to explore some atypical routes (think of it like having to take one of the steeper runs on Whistler Blackcomb down to the village, while other people get to glide along softly).

Oh Canada! (and Oh BC!)

While other countries, including the United States, for example, centralize their immigration system with the federal government, Canada adopts a ‘sharing is caring’ position by giving the provinces (including BC) a slice of the overall immigration pie. Therefore, this guide focuses on economic immigration systems operated by Canada (i.e. the federal government) as well as by the government of BC, before also exploring options to remain in Canada through family ties or employment.

Express Entry

Since being introduced in 2015 with the goal of streamlining the immigration process, Express Entry has become the main driver of economic immigration to Canada. If you want to stay in Whistler beyond the duration of your work permit, Express Entry should be the first thing you look at.

Individuals interested in becoming permanent residents of Canada complete an online Express Entry profile and, if eligible, enter the Express Entry pool, where they are assigned a score under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The government then invites the top-ranked candidates in the pool to submit an application, in draws that typically take place every couple of weeks. Invited candidates then have 60 days to submit a complete application, whereupon the government aims to complete the process within six months. Applicants whose work permit may expire before a decision is reached on their permanent residence application may obtain a bridging open work permit to tide them over.

Sounds easy, right? Let’s learn more.

You may be eligible already

You may have heard a rumour that you need a year of Canadian work experience before being eligible for Express Entry. The important thing to know is that there are three distinct ways to be eligible, and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC, which requires you to have completed 12 months of skilled work experience in Canada) is only one way to enter the Express Entry pool.

There are two other ways to enter the Express Entry pool, namely the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) and the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC).

The FSTC is for qualified, experienced tradespersons from around the world who either have a job offer in an eligible trade in Canada or a certificate of qualification in their trade issued by a Canadian provincial or territorial authority.

If the FTSC is not for you (it’s not for most people), then you may turn your attention to the FSWC. In 2017, more FSWC candidates were invited to apply than CEC candidates. And here is another thing: you can be eligible for the FSWC without ever having set foot in Canada, and you can be eligible while in Canada and without that (supposedly) crucial year of skilled Canadian work experience (let’s call it important then, rather than crucial, as having such experience adds a heap of points to your total). In order to qualify as a federal skilled worker, you need to score at least 67 points out of 100 on the FSWC points grid, viewable here, which should not be confused with the CRS points grid, which is out of 1,200. If you think you have at least 67 points as a federal skilled worker, you should double-check with an expert before proceeding.

What is skilled work?

No matter which of the three programs you aim to enter the Express Entry pool under, you will need to have completed some skilled work experience. Canada assesses occupations and duties according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, which categorizes occupations into five types: skill level 0 (management jobs), skill level A (professional jobs), skill level B (technical jobs), skill level C (intermediate jobs) and skill level D (typically labour jobs).

NOC skill levels 0, A and B are considered skilled, while skill levels C and D are not. Let’s Whistlerize this for a moment (and bear in mind the list below is by no means exhaustive).

Considered eligible work experience for Express Entry
Not considered eligible work experience for Express Entry
Ski lift supervisorsSki lift attendants / operators
Ski instructorsRental technicians (sport and recreation equipment, e.g. skis, bicycles)
Retail sales supervisorsRetail salespersons
Restaurant and food service managers, bar managersFood and beverage servers, bartenders
Program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport and fitnessOutdoor sport and recreational guides
Automotive service technicians, mechanical repairersOther repairers and servicers (e.g. bicycles, ski equipment)
All-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics (e.g. snowmobile / motorcycle / motor boat)Mechanical assemblers (e.g. assembler of snowmobile / ATV / outboard motor)
Accommodation, travel, tourism and related services supervisorsTour and travel guides
Managers in customer and personal servicesHosts (sales, food and beverage)
Accommodation service managersHotel front desk clerks
Construction millwrights and industrial mechanicsOther trades helpers and labourers (e.g. millwright helper / mechanic helper)
Chefs, cooksFood counter attendants, kitchen helpers

If you are due a promotion or are considering a change to employment that is recognised as skilled, you might want to look into this sooner rather than later to improve your chances of accruing skilled Canadian work experience. Doing so may help you become eligible for Express Entry and/or help you obtain additional CRS points, thereby helping you to stay in Whistler.

A language test? Really?

Yes, even if you went to an Ivy League school or Oxford, you will need to show your language ability in English or French (or, for extra points, both).

Candidates in Canada have the option of sitting either the CELPIP or IELTS test for English, and you can find test centres in Vancouver here and here, respectively. There are currently no test centres in Whistler.

More Express Entry resources

If you are in the Express Entry pool and have yet to receive an invitation to apply, see our tips on how to improve your CRS score. For details and analysis on the latest Express Entry draws, see this updated page. If you have any further Express Entry questions, they may be answered here.

Stay in Whistler: the BC PNP

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) allows BC to nominate individuals for permanent residence based on criteria set by BC, rather than by the federal government. For 2018, the annual allocation under the BC PNP was 6,250 nominations. Work permit holders looking to stay in Whistler for the long term are encouraged to review their immigration options under the BC PNP.

If you are eligible for Express Entry and deem that your CRS points total is likely to result in you receiving an invitation to apply soon after entering the pool (recent draws are a strong, though not guaranteed, indicator of future trends), then pursuing a BC PNP nomination may be a waste of time, effort, and funds.

However, if you are in the Express Entry pool and are struggling to meet the CRS cut-off thresholds or if you are not eligible for Express Entry at all, the BC PNP may be the right program for you. The BC PNP is segmented into various categories, some of which were created to assist Express Entry candidates get over the line, while other BC PNP categories exist entirely outside the Express Entry system.

Furthermore, some BC PNP categories are managed under a unique system, known as the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS). Under the SIRS, potential applicants are first required to provide some personal information relating to their job offer in BC, work experience, language ability, and level of education. Eligible registered candidates are assigned a score (out of 200), and the BC government conducts periodic draws in which candidates who meet the cut-off threshold for their category in that draw are invited to apply for a provincial nomination.

Note that most BC PNP categories, including the most popular categories, require a job offer from an eligible employer in BC. Once you have got to grips with how the process works, it’s time to convince your employer to support your efforts to immigrate to Canada permanently.

BC PNP overview

Express Entry BC

CategoryJob offer required?Aligned with SIRS?Basic criteria
Skilled workerYesYesJob offer in a skilled position
International GraduateYesYesJob offer in a skilled position; studied at post-secondary level in Canada
International Post-GraduateNoNoGraduated Master’s/PhD program in BC in natural, applied or health sciences
Health AuthorityYesNoJob offer from a BC health authority, or in a priority healthcare occupation

Skills Immigration

CategoryJob offer required?Aligned with SIRS?Basic criteria
Skilled workerYesYesJob offer in a skilled position
International GraduateYesYesJob offer in a skilled position; studied at post-secondary level in Canada
International Post-GraduateNoNoGraduated Master’s/PhD program in BC in natural, applied or health sciences
Health AuthorityYesNoJob offer from a BC health authority, or in a priority healthcare occupation
Entry Level and Semi-SkilledYesYesJob offer in tourism/hospitality, trucking, or food processing industry

Entrepreneur Immigration

CategoryJob offer required?Aligned with SIRS?Basic criteria
Entrepreneur ImmigrationNo, but must create at least one jobNoHigh net worth; business proposal

BC PNP Express Entry categories

In 2017, BC nominated 2,350 Express Entry candidates for permanent residence. That’s 2,350 individuals who passed through the BC PNP category to collect 600 vital CRS points on their way to becoming permanent residents of Canada. More than half of these nominations were issued under the EE BC Skilled Worker category, a vital option for those looking to stay in Whistler who have a job offer.

As the table above shows, of the 10 BC PNP categories, four are aligned with the federal Express Entry system: EE BC Skilled Worker, EE BC International Graduate, EE BC International Post-Graduate, and EE BC Healthcare Professional.

Click on any of the links in the table above to get a complete overview of the particular category, including detailed eligibility criteria, and click on any of the slides below to view a recent history of invitations issued per category.

EEBC - Skilled Worker draw history

EEBC – International Graduate draw history

The EE BC International Post-Graduate and EE BC Healthcare Professional categories do not function on an invitation basis.

For federal skilled worker candidates in the Express Entry pool who are pursuing a provincial nomination under a BC PNP category managed under the SIRS (such as the EE BC Skilled Worker category), this means that you have to satisfy three separate points systems in order to complete the immigration process, in the following order:

  1. Be eligible under the FSWC (minimum 67 points out of 100).
  2. Amass enough points under the SIRS to be issued an invitation to apply under the BC PNP (sliding cut-off threshold, maximum 200 points).
  3. Amass enough points under the CRS to be issued an invitation to apply for permanent residence (sliding cut-off threshold, maximum 1,200 points, of which 600 may be awarded for provincial nomination).

With this in mind, it is important to become acquainted with all the various systems you may pass through on your journey. The least familiar may be the Skills Immigration Registration System, but fortunately we have a handy SIRS guide right here.

Other BC PNP categories

If you are not currently eligible to enter the Express Entry pool, there may be a way to obtain a provincial nomination under a BC PNP category not aligned with Express Entry. These are known as ‘base’ categories and nominations, and these categories may suit certain workers looking to stay in Whistler beyond the duration of their current work permit.

The base categories largely mirror the Express Entry-aligned categories, outlined above, with two important differences:

  • Applications for permanent residence using a base nomination typically take significantly longer to process than Express Entry applications (as the name implies). At the time of writing in September, 2018, base nominations were taking 15 to 19 months to process at the federal stage (i.e. not including the time it takes to get the nomination in the first place). Note that although it may take some time for the entire process to be completed, you may remain working in Canada throughout.
  • There is an additional base category for Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled workers, which may provide a pathway for workers in a valid tourism/hospitality, long-haul trucking, or food processing occupation to gain permanent residence. It’s really worth checking the eligible occupations list to see if your work experience in BC is considered.

Click on any of the slides below to view a recent history of invitations issued per category.

BC Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker draw history

BC Skills Immigration - International Graduate draw history

BC Skills Immigration - Entry Level and Semi-Skilled draw history

The Skills Immigration International Post-Graduate and Skills Immigration Healthcare Professional categories do not function on an invitation basis.

In addition, if you happen to have a personal net worth of at least $600,000 CAD, there is always the BC PNP Entrepreneur stream.

Family ties

This section of our guide to staying in Whistler is for those of you who have fallen for a Canadian. This includes both opposite- and same-sex relationships. If this is you, here is the good news: your partner may be able to help you immigrate to Canada without you having to go through Express Entry or the BC PNP. So no points, no job offer required, and no language test.

More good news: because you are already in Canada, you may be eligible to keep working here while your application is being processed.

Even more good news: the government has slashed processing times for spousal and common-law sponsorship, from around two years to less than 12 months.

And the bad news: There is no bad news with falling for a Canadian.

Your spouse or common-law partner must be:

  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident,
  • at least 18 years old, and
  • living in Canada (Canadian citizens living outside Canada must show that the couple plans to live in Canada when you become a permanent resident. Permanent residents living outside of Canada cannot sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for immigration.)

Learn more about spousal and common-law sponsorship.

Stay in Whistler: work permit options

If the permanent residence process seems daunting or lengthy, or if you don’t believe you are eligible for permanent residence (speak to an expert before deciding this yourself!), there may be a way to keep you in Canada on a work permit that is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process.


  • Dual citizens, rejoice!

If you are in Canada on an IEC work permit and hold citizenship of another participating IEC country, you may be eligible to receive a work permit as a citizen of that other country.

  • Double-check your country’s agreement with Canada

If you are in Canada on an IEC work permit, depending on your nationality you may be able to participate again under the IEC program, either in the same category or in another category, such as the Young Professionals, supported by a job offer. Most reciprocal agreements do not allow repeat participation in the same category, but there are exceptions. To find out more, click here.

  • Parlez-vous français?

If you speak French or are bilingual, Canada wants you to stay. Employers who want to hire French-speaking or bilingual skilled workers to work in communities outside Quebec may be exempt from needing a LMIA. To find out more, click here.

  • Significant Benefit

The nature of work in Whistler means it is unlikely that many workers there will qualify under this category, which gives visa officers flexibility to bypass the LMIA process in cases where the applicant’s work in Canada may bring significant cultural, economic or social benefit to the country. But it’s worth checking out. To find out more, click here.


The future of this historic free trade agreement appears to be in peril, but for now NAFTA is not (yet) a footnote in history, and remains a viable work permit route for citizens of the US and Mexico to work in Canada in certain occupations. To find out more, click here.

  • Through a spouse or partner

If your spouse or common-law partner has a Canadian work or study permit, you may be able to join him or her in Canada on an open work permit.

Because you are already in Canada, getting a work permit through an intra-company transfer is not an option.


A LMIA serves as proof that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is ready, willing and able to perform a specific job, and so the employer may hire a foreign worker (you) on a temporary basis. The LMIA process involves the employer having to advertise the position widely, interview candidates, and complete plenty of paperwork. There is also a $1,000 CAD fee, payable by the employer, and no guarantee that all of this time and effort will result in you getting a work permit.

The employer does not have to be your current employer. It can be a potential employer in a new position for you.

For serious employers who want to retain the international talent on their payroll, the LMIA route can be as rewarding as it is complex. However, it requires serious preparation. For employers without large, dedicated HR departments in particular, the nuances of the LMIA process can prove frustrating. As the employee (or employee-to-be) who wants to stay in Canada, it may land on you to remain supportive and optimistic, taking the time to learn about the process and explain it to the employer. This is particularly the case if the employer has chosen not to retain the services of a regulated Canadian immigration consultant or lawyer who has experience in navigating this proverbial minefield.

After reviewing our detailed LMIA guide, you can use the Canada Job Bank Labour Market Information tool to determine the median hourly wage for your occupation and location. Depending on the circumstances, it may be required that you earn at least this wage in order for the LMIA to be issued.

For the sake of both you and your employer (who, for business reasons, should also want you to stay in Whistler), it is crucial to determine the correct National Occupational Classification (NOC) code best suited for the task. The chosen NOC will need to be used on the job ad, which in turn determines the duties listed, the required wage, and more. It is not possible to change the NOC during the process; your employer would have to begin the process from scratch if an error was made in the initial selection.

This government tool allows you to filter occupations by titles, providing details on skill level, job duties, and more.

Stay in Whistler: plan B, plan C . . .

Having gone through all your options above, are you sure you don’t have any leads on how to stay in Whistler, Canada? If so, here are a few more ideas:


If you really want to stay in Canada, why not become an international student? Students in Canada not only get an opportunity to improve their skills, but they can also work for up to 20 hours per week during academic terms, and full-time during scheduled breaks. If you graduate from a college or university offering programs eligible for the post-graduation work permit, you can also work in Canada for up to three years after graduating.

Please note the following:

  • International students pay more to attend college or university than Canadians, and you will have to show proof of funds in order to obtain a study permit.
  • Though some Whistler-based educational institutions are listed as Designated Learning Institutions, at the time of writing none of these institutions offer programs for which graduates are then eligible for the post-graduation work permits. If your goal is to graduate and stay in Canada to work thereafter, you may be better off studying at a nearby institution closer to or in Vancouver that offers programs eligible for the post-graduation work permit. You could potentially study outside Whistler but commute to Whistler for part-time work, depending on scheduling. Where there’s a will, there’s (usually) a way! You can filter through Designated Learning Institutions here.

Visitor status

If you have exhausted your options for permanent residence, work permits and studying in Canada but still want to stay in Whistler, you may consider buying some time by changing your status to visitor. Depending on your nationality, you may need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

Note that as a visitor, you will not be allowed to work in Canada. Visitors are usually, though not always, allowed to stay in Canada for a period of six months.

Stay in Whistler: book an immigration consultation

If you want to stay in Whistler beyond your work permit, we recommend that you consult with a regulated Canadian immigration consultant, specifically one who has a presence in Whistler. For that purpose, we recommend the team at Perez McKenzie Immigration.

“We are ready to help you with all of your immigration needs at our family-owned and operated consultancy, whether it be temporary residence such as work and study permits, permanent residence, or citizenship matters,” says Jenny Perez, Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant at Perez McKenzie Immigration.

You can book a consultation with Perez McKenzie here before meeting in person in Whistler or Vancouver.

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