Pending decision on work permit renewal [R186(u)] – Authorization to work without a work permit: International Mobility Program 

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

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

In the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), status and authorization are not linked as was the case in the previous Immigration Act (1976). Under IRPA, all foreign nationals authorized to enter Canada as per subsection A22(1) have temporary resident status. A temporary resident may also be authorized to work in Canada without a work permit [R186] or be issued a work permit [R200 or R201].

Note: The extension of status by law (maintained status, previously known as implied status) under subsection R183(5) does not automatically authorize a temporary resident to continue working while their application for a renewal of their work permit is in progress. The temporary resident must also meet the requirements of paragraph R186(u) to continue working. Paragraph R186(u) applies only until a decision is made on the work permit renewal application.

Paragraph R186(u) allows foreign nationals to work without a permit if they (all must apply)

  • applied to renew their work permit under section R201 before the original work permit expired
  • have remained in Canada (meaning they have not physically left)
  • continue to comply with the conditions set out on the expired work permit, other than the expiry date

Subsection R183(5) grants an extension of the period of authorized stay by operation of law, allowing a foreign national to maintain their temporary resident status. This was previously known as “implied status” and is now referred to as “maintained status.”

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Work permit exemption authorities

A foreign national who submits the form Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710 ] to renew their work permit may be submitting two applications in one. The temporary resident is applying under section R181 for an “extension of authorization to remain” and under section R201 to “renew the work permit”. If submitted before the expiry of their current work permit, this combined application has 3 effects:

  1. Should a final decision not be made on the application under section R181 before the expiration of their current status, the temporary resident’s status will be maintained by law under subsection R183(5).
  2. The application for renewal under section R201 allows the foreign national to work without a permit under paragraph R186(u) until a decision is made, unless they leave Canada or fail to comply with conditions imposed.
  3. Any conditions imposed on the current work permit carry over to the work without a permit period under paragraph R186(u). For example
    • the holder of an employer-specific work permit may only continue to work for the same employer
    • the holder of an open work permit may continue to work for any employer until the decision is made on the renewal of the work permit
    • the holder of an open-employer but occupation-restricted work permit may not work in any restricted occupations 

Once the decision has been made, the foreign national either will have to leave Canada if the application is refused or may continue working with the new permit.

Interim proof of work – Acknowledgement of receipt

Upon receipt of an online work permit application, a generic temporary resident acknowledgement of receipt (TR Acknowledgement of Receipt) is sent automatically by the Global Case Management System (GCMS). As of October 20, 2020, after sending the TR Acknowledgement of Receipt, GCMS then validates a specific set of rules, and if all rules exist, a second letter (IMM 5988 – WP-EXT only except PGWP) indicating the continued authorization to work under paragraph R186(u) is sent automatically.

The letter is provided to applicants as proof that they have continued authorization to work, and the validity date is added to give employers and other stakeholders a more concrete period of time of authorized work. IRCC has found in the past that employers and stakeholders are reluctant to accept an unknown period such as “until a decision is made.”

Letter validity

Officers should understand that the validity date of the letter in no way overrides the authority of paragraph R186(u), which allows foreign nationals who meet the requirements to continue working until a final decision is made on their work permit renewal application or the foreign national leaves Canada.

The letter has a 120-day validity from the date of receipt, which corresponds with IRCC’s service standard for in-Canada applications. Historically, IRCC meets its service standard more than 90% of the time; therefore, only a few applicants will require a new letter. Most should receive a decision before the 120 days have expired.

If the 120 days have passed and no decision has been rendered

In cases where the 120 days have passed and no decision has been rendered, the applicant may request continued proof of authorization to work using the IRCC Web form.

Client Support Centre (CSC) agents can confirm that an IMM 5988 – WP-EXT only except PGWP letter exists in the Outgoing Correspondence view tab. If yes, CSC agents may send the following text to the requestor:

Thank you for contacting IRCC. We verified and can confirm that your application is still in processing. You can therefore continue working for another 120 days from the date of this response. You may attach this response to your expired work permit and the letter previously sent to you as proof of your continued authorization to work without a permit under paragraph 186(u) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Requests for supporting documents that may place the processing time beyond 120 days

If the IMM 5988 – WP-EXT only except PGWP letter was previously sent (exists in Outgoing Correspondence View tab) and the processing officer determines that further documentation is required, in the Item Requested section, the officer should select “Other” and add the following text:

Your authorization to work is continued under paragraph 186(u) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations for an additional 120 days from the date of this letter or until a final decision is made, whichever comes first.

Other application situations and applicable authorities

First work permit in Canada

If a temporary resident is applying for their first work permit from within Canada, paragraph R186(u) does not apply. A temporary resident must hold a work permit and be applying to renew it under section R201 to meet the requirements of the work without a permit exemption.

For example, if the dependent spouse of a skilled worker who entered Canada as a visitor is submitting an application for authorization to work, this will be the first work permit issued to the dependent spouse. The dependent spouse will have to wait until they receive the work permit before starting to work. However, their status as a temporary resident would be extended by law during the processing period.

Not a combined application

If an applicant is someone who does not presently hold status, such as a refugee claimant, then they are simply applying for a work permit renewal under section R201 but not the extension of status under section R181. The work permit renewal application initiates the authorization to work without a permit under paragraph R186(u), but the application does not confer or extend status under subsection R183(5) as they have no status.

International Experience Canada (IEC) program participants changing work permit categories

For International Experience Canada (IEC), even though there is a discontinuation clause under the Youth Mobility Agreements, the clause only applies between one IEC participation and the next IEC participation. If a temporary resident applies for a work permit renewal (extension) in a category outside of the IEC program while their IEC work permit is still valid, they receive the authorization to work without a permit under paragraph R186(u), and the conditions of their IEC work permit continue until a decision is made. This period of time when they are authorized to work without a permit is not considered an extension of their IEC participation.

Temporary residents authorized to work without a permit

Temporary residents authorized to work in Canada without a permit either pursuant to section R186or under the Public Policy facilitating entry into Canada for short term work do not hold a work permit and therefore are not applying for a renewal under subsection R201(1).

The authorization to work without a permit under paragraph R186(u) applies only if the temporary resident has applied for a renewal of a valid work permit under section R201.

In addition, those working pursuant to the Public Policy facilitating entry into Canada for short term work are not listed under section R199 and therefore may not apply for a work permit after entry to Canada.

Post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders seeking to renew their work permit in a different category

The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) has validity limits and is not renewable. Work permits are issued for a minimum of 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years based on the length of the study program. PGWP holders still benefit from the authorization to work without a permit when they apply for a work permit renewal (usually in a different category) if the requirements under paragraph R186(u) are met.

Quick reference guide

The following guide provides a quick reference on when applicants may work without a work permit under the authority of paragraph R186(u) while they are waiting for a decision on a work permit renewal application under section R201.

Select the heading below that reflects the applicant’s original authorization to work:

Authorized to work without a permit under section R186 or exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit pursuant to the Public Policy facilitating entry into Canada for short term work 

If the applicant is applying for a new work permit, paragraph R186(u) does not apply.

If the applicant is in Canada working under the authority of section R186 or the Public Policy facilitating entry into Canada for short term work, when they apply for an employer-specific or open work permit, they are applying for an initial work permit under section R200, not a renewal under section R201.

Employer-specific work permit holder

If the applicant is applying to

  • renew with the same employer and the same conditions, paragraph R186(u) applies
  • renew with the same employer but different conditions, paragraph R186(u) applies; however, while waiting for a decision, the worker must continue to comply with the original conditions
  • renew with a different employer, paragraph R186(u) applies; however, the worker cannot start working for the new employer until the renewal application is approved
  • renew the work permit as an open work permit, paragraph R186(u) applies; however, the worker cannot start working for a new employer until the renewal is approved
  • change to a study permit or visitor record, they are not renewing under section R201 and therefore paragraph R186(u) does not apply

Open work permit holder

If the applicant is applying to

  • renew an open work permit, paragraph R186(u) applies, and the open work permit conditions continue to apply while the application is being processed
  • renew the work permit as an employer-specific work permit, paragraph R186(u) applies, and the open work permit conditions continue to apply while the application is being processed
  • change to a study permit or visitor record, paragraph R186(u) does not apply

Application of the employer compliance regime when the temporary resident is working under the authority of paragraph R186(u)

Pursuant to subsection R209.2(2), the period of employment for the employer conditions listed in section 209.2 includes any period during which the temporary resident was authorized to work under paragraph R186(u) after the expiry of their work permit. Therefore, the employer continues to be subject to the conditions and may be subject to inspection until a decision is made on the subsection R201(1) application.

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