International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Reciprocal employment – Extending the period of participation or changing employers under the International Experience Canada Program

All in-Canada visitor record, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exemptions. See the list of programs that are exempt from the mandatory electronic application requirement.

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

As a rule, no work permit extensions are authorized under the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program. However, there are instances where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may allow IEC clients to extend the period of their participation to reach the maximum validity period allowed for a specific category.

It should be noted that each country or territory has a unique bilateral agreement or arrangement with Canada. Some countries, territories and recognized organizations (ROs) allow participation in the program more than once. If the country, territory or RO’s agreement or arrangement allows participation more than once, the client has to apply for a new participation (not an extension of the current participation) from outside Canada.

The validity period for an IEC work permit may not exceed the maximum length of stay authorized under the bilateral agreement or arrangement. The clients may, however, be able to create a new IEC profile for a second participation if

  • their country of citizenship allows multiple participations; and
  • they still meet IEC eligibility criteria.

Clients who are eligible for a second participation under IEC are not considered to be extending their work permit, as each participation requires a new work permit application. For each IEC participation, candidates need to submit a profile into 1 or more of IEC’s 3 categories, and if they are picked from a pool, they may be invited to submit a work permit application. Therefore, each participation in IEC is separate from the other.

For example, under the Young Professionals category, Australians may be eligible for a work permit for up to 24 months. There are instances where Australians may correct or increase the validity period of their work permit if they were not granted the full 24-month maximum duration allowed under this category. However, once an increase in the validity period of their work permit is granted, the total cumulative time allowed cannot exceed 24 months.

Reasons for issuing a work permit valid for a shorter time than the validity period allowed under a bilateral agreement or arrangement are as follows:

  • under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), officers cannot issue a work permit or grant temporary resident status beyond the validity of the passport; exceptions to this are noted in subsection R52(1);
  • health insurance validity is shorter than the letter of offer from the employer;
  • the duration of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed; or
  • an administrative error was made.

The following are scenarios that describe when IEC participants can or cannot increase the validity period of their work permits beyond what was initially granted to them by the border services officer at a port of entry.

Scenario 1 – Administrative errors related to the validity period of the work permit were made

Notes in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) indicate the work permit is to be issued for a certain period of time (e.g., 24 months), but the officer at the port of entry issued a work permit for a shorter period than what was indicated in the GCMS notes. The passport validity covers the entire period (24 months), and the client has health insurance coverage for the entire period and has met all medical requirements.

  • IRCC allows the client to submit an application to extend the period of their participation to reach the full maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • Applicants are required to send a paper application to the case processing centre, using the in-Canada work permit application form.

Note: Under this scenario, the employer is not required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC client remains exempt from having to pay the work permit processing fees, IEC participation fees and open work permit holder fee.

If the new work permit application is approved, the validity date should not go beyond the maximum duration allowed from the date of entry.

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

The validity period of the offer of employment is 24 months, and the health insurance covers the 24 months, but the foreign national was issued a work permit of shorter duration to match the validity period of the passport.

  • IRCC allows the client to submit an application to extend the validity period of their participation, up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement, on presentation of a new passport.
  • Applicants are required to send a paper application to the case processing centre, using the in-Canada work permit application form.

Note: Under this scenario the employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC client remains exempt from having to pay the work permit processing fees and participation fees.

Clients who were issued an open work permit of shorter duration, to match the validity period of their passport, and who are extending the validity period of their participation, are exempt from the requirement to pay the open work permit holder fee and the work permit fee.

If the new work permit application is approved, the validity date should not go beyond the maximum duration allowed from date of entry.

Scenario 3 – Validity period of the client’s health insurance is shorter than the validity period of the offer of employment

The foreign national was issued a work permit with a validity period that matches the validity period of their health insurance, which is shorter than the validity period in the offer of employment or, in the case of an open work permit issued under the Working Holiday category, shorter than the duration indicated in the GCMS notes.

Note: Under this scenario, it is the IEC participant’s choice not to seek health insurance to cover the validity period of the offer of employment or, in the case of an open work permit issued under the Working Holiday category, their anticipated stay in Canada.

  • IRCC does not allow the client to submit an application to extend the period of their participation to reach the full maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • The applicant failed to obtain travel insurance that fully covers their anticipated stay, as stipulated in their letter of introduction; therefore, their work permit application is automatically refused.
  • The IEC participant cannot increase the validity period of their work permit. 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.
  • They may be able to create a new IEC profile for a second participation if
    • their country of citizenship allows multiple participations; and
    • they still meet IEC eligibility criteria.
  • The client may also be able to apply for a work permit outside the IEC Program. If they do apply for a new work permit under another program (a Labour Market Impact Assessment [LMIA]-required or LMIA-exempt program), they should apply before the expiry of their IEC work permit.

Scenario 4 – Validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed (same employer and employment)

The validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement. The foreign national was issued a work permit with a duration that corresponds with the offer of employment.

The foreign national receives a new offer of employment from the same employer for the same location and same duties to extend their employer-specific work permit (same conditions of the initial offer of employment) to reach the maximum validity period allowed in the bilateral agreement or arrangement.

  • This is an application for an increase in the length of validity of the client’s work permit allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • IRCC allows the client to submit an application to extend the period of their participation to reach the full maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • Applicants are required to send a paper application to the case processing centre, using the in-Canada work permit application form.

Note: The employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC client remains exempt from having to pay work permit fees and participation fees.

  • The IEC participant is permitted to increase the validity period of their work permit to the maximum validity period allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement only once per participation.
  • The IEC participant must provide proof that they have full health insurance coverage for the entire duration that they are applying for (this additional coverage can be purchased after arrival).
  • The IEC participant can increase the validity period of their work permit if they stay with the same employer to reach the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • This is an extension within the participation and counts as the same participation.
  • Any new participation must be applied for in the regular manner by submitting a profile to the pool and waiting for an Invitation to Apply.

The applicant is responsible for restoring their status, if required, and paying the appropriate processing fees.

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

The validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement. The foreign national was issued a work permit with a duration that corresponds with the offer of employment.

If the foreign national holds a valid IEC employer-specific work permit and has received an offer of employment from the same employer, due to a promotion or to working in a different occupation or location from what was offered in their initial work permit, the foreign national cannot extend their work permit under IEC. Instead, they may submit an application for a work permit outside the IEC Program (that is, an LMIA-required or LMIA-exempt program) to change the conditions of their work permit.

For example, the foreign national receives a new offer of employment from the same employer but to work at a different address (office) or in a different city, province or territory, and the foreign national wants to extend the period of their participation to reach the full maximum validity period allowed in the bilateral agreement or arrangement.

  • IRCC does not allow the client to submit an application to extend the period of their participation to reach the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • This is a change of condition in the IEC participation. 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.
  • The client may be able to create a new IEC profile for a second participation if
    • their country of citizenship allows multiple participations; and
    • they still meet IEC eligibility criteria.
  • The client may also be able to apply for a work permit outside the IEC Program. If they do apply for a new work permit under another program (LMIA-required or LMIA-exempt), they should apply at least 30 days before their IEC work permit expires in order to apply from within Canada.

Note: If the foreign national applied for a new LMIA-exempt work permit, the new employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The foreign national must pay the applicable work permit processing fees if they applied for a work permit application outside the IEC Program.

Scenario 6 – Need to remove medical restrictions

If the foreign national 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, they need to remove their medical restrictions. There are 2 ways to do this, depending on whether or not the foreign national has already arrived in Canada.

  • If the foreign national has a port of entry letter and hasn’t left their country of residence:
    • They can get an up-front medical exam, which means that they are getting a medical exam before they have been asked to do so by an immigration officer.
    • They can bring proof that they 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 the foreign national’s work permit.
  • If the foreign national has a work permit and is already in Canada, they can apply to change their conditions by
    • getting an up-front medical exam, which means that the foreign national is getting a medical exam before they 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 their 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 working permit fee (applicable only to Working Holiday participants). The client is not required to pay the work permit processing fee or an IEC participation fee.

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

Change of employers for employer-specific categories (Young Professionals or International Co-op [Internship])

For participants who are admitted to the IEC Program under the Young Professionals or International Co-op (Internship) category, the IEC Program requires that the employment they maintain in Canada be relevant to their studies, training or professional experience.

In cases where an IEC participant who holds an employer-specific work permit requests a change of employer, the participant must complete the IRCC Web form to have their new employer and occupation assessed for participation eligibility before submitting a work permit application, either online or by mail, to the appropriate case processing centre to change the conditions imposed on their work permit (for example, a change in employer).

IEC participants need to provide, through the IRCC Web form, a justification for requesting a change of employer (such as the company closed, the participant is not receiving the wages or working conditions offered). Having a better wage or a better job cannot be accepted as a justification.

Any justification submitted must include information on why this change is consistent with the objectives of the participant and of the IEC Program. The participant also needs to provide details about the offer of employment. The decision to approve is left to the discretion of the case processing agent, with the approval of their respective team leader. If the Operations Support Centre approves the request submitted by an IEC applicant through the IRCC Web form, the new employer is required to submit an offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee before the applicant submits their work permit application to the appropriate case processing centre.

If a change is requested during an IEC participant’s approved stay, the period of the new approval is reduced by the amount of time that has already elapsed, per the bilateral agreement or arrangement.

Example: If a change is requested 3 months into a 12-month approved stay, the new approval period should be a maximum of 9 months. The 2 approvals count as a single participation. However, if only some or none of the new 9-month approval is used, the applicant’s experience still counts as a full participation, at the end of the 12 months. The applicant can continue to work with the employer stated on the work permit, but if ties are severed, they must wait for a new work permit before beginning new employment. The client must show proof of termination, resignation or whatever the case may be, with the specific date, to facilitate issuance of the remaining validity.

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