Last Updated on October 2, 2013 by Steven Meurrens

The following is an e-mail exchange between an immigration representative and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) regarding International Experience Canada (the “IEC”).  The IEC, more commonly known as the Working Holiday Program (which is actually a program within the IEC), allows young people from several dozen countries to work in Canada on open work permits.  As with any program, questions emerged regarding specific requirements, including whether IEC work permits can be extended.

Please note that what I have reproduced below should not be viewed as legal advice.  I obtained a copy of this internal CIC question and answer through an Access to Information Act request the (“ATI”).  The reproduction of question and answer has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, nor with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.  Please e-mail me if you want a copy of the original question and answer contained in the ATI.  

Question – May 13, 2013

Dear Sir or Madam:

I wish to seek your advice concerning the following situation.

I have a client, an _______, who came to Canada on a work permit issued to him on ___________ through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. His work permit is valid to  through the

My client wishes to obtain a renewal of his work permit prior to its expiry. As a result, I would like your advice as to whether he can submit a direct request to CIC Vegreville for an extension of his work permit or does he need an approved labour market opinion from Service Canada in order to submit an extension request of his work permit to CIC Vegreville so he can continue working in Canada.

I await your reply.


Answer – May 23, 2013

If your client wishes to obtain a new work permit under the International Experience Canada program, he will first have to apply for another participation with Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and will receive a Conditional Acceptance Letter that he can use to apply for his new work permit. However, it is my understanding that the Irish Quota for 2013 Participations is now full.

If your client has not received his Conditional Acceptance Letter from DFAIT, then he must have his employer obtain a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO) for him and then submit his application for an extension to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (online or by paper) or he must be able to show that he meets the requirements of one of the LMO exemptions. Please see the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines (FW) manual for a list of these exemptions.

If your client did apply for a second participation in the IEC program AND received his Conditional Letter of Acceptance then he should complete the “Come to Canada’ question flow as if he was living in Ireland and this will provide him the proper ‘result’. However, he must compete the IMM 1295 Application with the correct information regarding his residency.

There are many things to note about CIC’s answer.

First, on August 31, 2013, CIC announced that it was assuming responsibility for issuing Conditional Acceptance Letters in the IEC.  The release said:

Effective August 31, 2013, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will assume responsibility for International Experience Canada (IEC). The program was previously administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

The IEC program provides opportunities for young Canadians and foreign nationals, aged 18-35, to gain travel and work experience in each other’s countries for up to two years.

The transfer of the IEC will allow the program to better align with government priorities and labour market demands in Canada by linking IEC to other immigration programs.  The move will strengthen Canada’s strategy to develop its human capital and attract talent.

Transferring the program to CIC will provide an opportunity to take advantage of the Department’s existing expertise in centralized electronic processing of work permits. CIC will become the one-stop shop for applicants by streamlining the application process for IEC participants at one federal government department.

The program will continue to operate as usual, meaning that the application process will be the same for IEC participants. Applicants will not face an interruption in service as a result of the transfer.

Second, the last paragraph of CIC’s e-mail reveals a significant flaw in CIC’s online system.  In May I spoke with CIC employee who designed the MyCIC portal.  He admitted that there were glitches in the Come to Canada Wizard which was forcing prospective applicants to lie in order to obtain the correct CIC document checklist.  He advised that individuals who did so would not be penalized so long as they were truthful in the actual application, and that they were working on the problem.  However, it appears that the problem has not been fixed, and in this case applicants from within Canada need to pretend that they live abroad in order to obtain the “proper checklist.”  The whole thing is incredibly confusing to applicants.

Finally, given that Labour Market Opinion processing times are steadily increasing, applicants who want to extend their ability to work in Canada need to speak with their employers about applying for Labour Market Opinions several months in advance.