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IEC Working Holiday Canada Extension Guide

Loving your IEC experience in Canada and would like to stay longer? I get it – I ended up applying for permanent residency and eventually Canadian citizenship!

Unfortunately, IEC work permit extensions are only possible in very specific circumstances.

This post will share everything there is to know about IEC work permit extensions as well as valid options for IEC participants to stay longer in Canada.

Published March 2024.

Huge waterfall bursting from left side, cascading into deep canyon below. Forest surrounds the canyon
Aguasabon Falls, Ontario

IEC Working Holiday program

Stumbled on this page but have no idea what the IEC is?

International Experience Canada (IEC) is Canada’s youth mobility scheme, run by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Participants must be aged 18-30 or 18-35 (inclusive).

There are three programs within the IEC scheme:

  • Working Holiday (WH)
  • Young Professionals (YP)
  • International Co-Op

Participating IEC countries offer at least one of these programs, with some countries providing more than one.

Right now, there are more than 30 participating IEC countries, ranging from Ireland, the UK and Australia to South Korea, Japan and France.

Each participating IEC country has an annual quota of places based on reciprocal agreements with Canada.

The most popular IEC stream is the working holiday program as it provides an open work permit that can be used to work anywhere in Canada. The length of the included work permit varies from country to country.

For more details, head to our detailed IEC working holiday application guide.

Elevated view looking down on the town of Banff, Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. The town is surrounded by snow capped mountains
Banff, Alberta

IEC work permit extensions

There are only a few scenarios in which an IEC work permit can be extended:

  • Incorrect expiry date due to border officer mistake
  • Incorrect expiry date due to short-dated passport
  • Extended job role (Young Professionals and International Co-Op programs only)

Unless these specific circumstances apply to you, it is not possible to extend an IEC work permit. This is explained on the IRCC website.

In all situations, IEC work permits can only be extended to reach the maximum length of stay authorised under the bilateral agreement with a country.

For example – Australian citizens are eligible for 1 x 24 month IEC work permit. In any work extension scenario, Australians will only receive an extension for up to 24 months (no longer).

IEC participants can stay in Canada and continue working under the same conditions if they have a valid reason for an extension (one of the above scenarios) and their current work permit expires.

Important note. In all three extension exceptions, the IEC participant must have had adequate health insurance upon arrival in Canada for the maximum length of stay allowed. In other words, if you’re eligible for a 24 month work permit, you must have arrived with 24 months of insurance. Proof is required.

Elevated view looking across vineyards to scrub and other vineyard, with Okanagan Lake behind
The Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Incorrect expiry date due to border officer mistake

Canadian border officers sometimes make mistakes when issuing work permits.

For this reason, it is incredibly important to check the details of your work permit before leaving the border.

If you have been issued an IEC work permit with an incorrect expiry date (that doesn’t match the length you are eligible for), this is a valid reason for an extension.

To apply for the extension, complete a paper work permit application. There is no fee.

Follow the instructions on this IRCC page (select ‘the expiry date of my work permit is wrong’).

Incorrect expiry date due to short-dated passport

Work permits are only valid to the expiry date of the corresponding passport.

If your passport is due to expire during your IEC, this is another valid reason for an extension.

After receiving your new passport, you can apply for the IEC work permit extension.

To apply, complete a paper work permit application. There is no fee.

Follow the instructions on this IRCC page (select ‘I got a new passport’).

Important note. Employers of participants within the Young Professional and International Co-op programs must submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee before the extension application is submitted.

Extended job role

The Young Professional and International Co-Op programs offer a ‘closed’ work permit, which means that it is tied to a specific Canadian employer.

At the time of the initial application, employers must submit an offer of employment and pay an employer compliance fee.

Depending on the circumstances, the employer may only offer employment for a short duration. The employer may, at a later time, decide that they want to extend the employment duration to the maximum time allowed.

This is a valid reason for an IEC work permit extension. The job duties, employer and job location must all be the same as the original offer.

To apply for the extension, complete a paper work permit application. There is no fee.

Follow the instructions on this IRCC page (select ‘My job has been extended’).

Distant view of Calgary skyline with trees below and skyscrapers above
Calgary skyline

How to stay in Canada post-IEC

For most people, the only way to stay longer in Canada after an IEC participation is to apply for a visitor record, another work permit, permanent residency or a second IEC work permit (if eligible).

Changing to visitor status

Applying to stay as a visitor is the best option for IEC participants who want to spend a little extra time in Canada. Working is not allowed while on visitor status.

The easiest way to transition to visitor status is to apply online. This IRCC questionnaire will provide the application and required documentation.

The fee is $100. Proof of support funds is required. Be sure to apply before your IEC work permit runs out.

The online application can take up to 3 months to be granted but you’ll have ‘implied visitor status’ from the date your IEC work permit expires.

The other option is to leave Canada and return on visitor status (or flagpole).

This is a riskier process, however, since the border officer has the discretion to refuse entry. The border officer may assume you will continue working.

Work permit

The IEC program offers the flexibility of an open work permit. There are, however, other (closed) work permit programs in Canada.

To receive a work permit sponsored by your employer, the job role must be first approved by the government for a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

The positive LMIA proves there is a need for a foreign worker to fill the position and that there is no Canadian work available to do the job. 

This route involves significant involvement from your employer with a $1000 fee (paid by the employer, not the applicant) and a demonstration of recruitment and advertisement efforts. Average processing times vary between industries and programs.

If your spouse or common-law partner has a valid Canadian work permit (IEC or otherwise) and job, you may be eligible for an open work permit. In 2024, the partner’s job does not need to be skilled (special temporary exemption).

Close up of vibrant red and yellow wildflowers in front of mountains, which feature snow at their base
The Rockwall Trail, British Columbia

Permanent residency

Permanent Residency (PR) is the most secure and long-term option to stay in Canada. This immigration status offers the right to live and work in Canada indefinitely as long as you uphold residency obligations.

It is, however, a (usually) expensive and time-consuming process. And not all IEC participants will be eligible to apply.

There are a few different ways to apply for Permanent Residency in Canada.

Married or living as married for at least a year with a Canadian permanent resident or citizen? Then you are most likely eligible to apply under the Family Class.

Work a skilled job in Canada? Look into the Express Entry application for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW), Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST).

Another option is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), which allows a Canadian province or territory to sponsor an individual for permanent residency.

Second IEC application

Depending on your citizenship, you may be able to apply for the IEC again. For example, the UK allows two participations (1 x 24 months, 1 x 12 months).

If you are a dual citizen, you may be able to apply with your other citizenship.

If these options do not apply to you, then it may still be possible to apply for the IEC again via a Recognised Organisation (RO).

These companies help people from participating IEC countries and non-participating companies to apply for the IEC.

ROs generally have their own application requirements, so you will need to contact them individually to see if they can help.

Securing a spot with an RO can be very competitive and also expensive.

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Check out these other posts about working holidays in Canada