Can I extend my Working Holiday work permit?

There is a "no - absolutely not" and a "yes, only under certain circumstances"

First to the "No - Absolutely not"

A Working Holiday work permit is part of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program and is a special work permit. Each IEC country has its own bilateral agreements with Canada on the length of a work permit. For example Australians can get a max. of 24 months work permit. 

To find out the maximum length of your country enter your country >> here << 

"As a rule, no work permit extensions are authorized under the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program. [...] The validity period for an IEC work permit may not exceed the maximum length of stay authorized under the bilateral agreement or arrangement."

Translation: An IEC work permit cannot be extended beyond the maximum allowed time in the agreement. For example Australia and Ireland have a max. of 24 months. The work permit cannot be extended beyond those 24 months. Even if an immigration lawyer tells you otherwise, you can be sure that it is an incorrect information. The immigration lawyers are not familiar with the special rules of an IEC work permit. 

And now to the "Yes, only under certain circumstances and up to the maximum allowed time"

There are circumstances, where a work permit was issued for a shorter period of time than the agreement allows. The IEC work permit can only be extended in three situations:

  1. If the officer at the border made a mistake during activation and shortened the work permit.
  2. If the passport was not valid for long enough and therefore the work permit was issued until the passport expiry date.
  3. For the Young Professional: If the employer has created a shorter job offer and therefore the work permit was issued for a shorter time.**

In these three scenarios mentioned above, you can apply for an extension and have the work permit extended to the maximum permitted length under the agreement. Never beyond that allowed time.

Steps for the extension in the above three scenarios:

  1. The extension can only be done by paper application! More info >> here << 
  2. Complete the >> work permit application << 
  3. Include a letter of explanation that explains:
    • that you are a participant in the International Experience Canada
    • that you apply for an extension of participation
    • that you don’t have to pay any fees
    • why you apply for an extension
  1. The paper application will then be sent to this address:

Case Processing Centre Edmonton
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada
c/o Work Permit- IEC Station 404
Suite 55 9700 Jasper Avenue NW
Edmonton AB T5J 4C3

**In this scenario the employer has to submit a new job offer in the employer portal and pay the $230 compliance fee. 

And what about the scenario where the work permit was issued only for the length of health insurance?

It is a requirement of the IEC program that you have a health insurance for the entire intended duration of your stay when activating the work permit. If you only have this for a shorter period of time (e.g. 3 months), a work permit will only be issued for as long as the health insurance is valid.

In this scenario, the extension of the work permit is absolutely no longer possible. There is a strict automatic rejection. I quote from this post >here< under Scenario 3:

  • 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.

Also, before you submitted the application you had to electronically sign a disclosure with the information about the health insurance. There is no excuse with "I didn't know".

A word of caution:

Immigration consultants or immigration lawyers are not familiar with this special work permit and will advice people to apply for a fake extension. If you deliberately try to circumvent the rules and send in a fake extension, it is considered fraud and a serious crime in Canada, because you have intentionally submitted a false, incomplete application. 

If you continue to work after the Working Holiday work permits expires, it is illegal work and this can also negatively influence future applications (for other work permits or permanent residency).