How to Extend or Change Conditions on Your Canadian Work Permit

April 4, 2024


  • Kelia Losa Reinoso

Do you love your job in Canada and want to stay longer? A work permit allows foreign nationals to work in Canada legally. It's crucial to maintain a valid work permit to avoid interrupting your employment. This guide will explain how to extend or change your work permit if It's nearing expiry (at least 30 days before). Extending your stay allows you to continue working seamlessly, or your employment situation changes: A job change or new employer might require modifications to your existing permit.

By applying beforehand, you can legally stay in Canada while your application is processed. Remember, working without a valid permit is illegal.

Am I Eligible to Extend or Change My Work Permit?

Generally, you can apply to extend or change your work permit if you are one of the following:

Holders of employer-specific work permits

This includes those with permits tied to a specific employer, job offer, or location (due to a medical exam restriction). You can apply if:

  • Your job is extended.
  • There are changes to your current job (pay, responsibilities).
  • You're offered a different job with the same employer.
  • You want to work for a new employer.

Holders of open work permits

  • You might be eligible to extend an open work permit if you meet the ongoing requirements for holding this type of permit.

Individuals needing to modify permit details

This applies to situations like:

  • Changing the authorized type of work you can do.
  • Removing location restrictions after completing a medical exam.
  • Updating your gender on the permit.
  • Correcting errors made by IRCC on your existing permit.

Here are some situations where extending or changing your work permit might not be possible:

Your work permit has already expired: If your permit has passed its expiry date, you'll need to explore other options like applying for a new permit from outside Canada.

You're pursuing permanent residency: If you've submitted an application for permanent residency, extending your work permit might not be necessary. However, it's recommended to consult with an immigration professional for specific guidance.

Preparing Your Application

Before submitting your application to extend or change your work permit, there are a few key things to ensure a smooth process.

Gather Supporting Documents

While the IRCC website doesn't provide an exhaustive list, it's best to include documents that verify the information you're providing. Here are some general recommendations:

  • Your Current Work Permit: A copy of the permit you're aiming to extend or modify.
  • Completed Application Package: Download the application form from the IRCC website and fill it out accurately.
  • Employment Proof: A letter from your employer confirming your job details and the reason for extension/modification (if applicable).
  • Legal Status in Canada: Documents like your passport and a valid visitor visa (if applicable) demonstrate your legal status.

Biometrics Collection

Sometimes, you might need to submit your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) as part of the application. Be proactive and schedule a biometrics appointment as soon as possible to avoid delays. The IRCC website provides information on how to give biometrics.

Employer Responsibilities

If your work permit is tied to a specific employer, ensure they've completed any necessary steps on their end before you submit your application.

Traveling Outside Canada?

Remember, applying to extend or modify your work permit doesn't automatically grant a new visitor visa. If your visitor visa has expired and you plan to return to Canada, apply for a new visitor visa beforehand.

Benefits of Applying Online:

The Canadian government highly recommends applying online for faster processing and several benefits:

  • Application Completeness Check: The online system ensures your application is complete before submission, reducing the risk of delays.
  • Proof of Authorized Work (WP-EXT Except PGWP): Upon submission, you'll receive a letter confirming your eligibility to continue working under your current permit's conditions while your application is processed. (Paper applications don't receive this until reviewed)
  • Faster Processing: No courier fees or waiting for mail delivery - your application reaches IRCC instantly.
  • Easy Document Submission: Easily upload additional documents online if requested by IRCC.
  • Application Status Updates: Stay informed with updates on your application status directly through your online account.

How to Apply for a Change in My Work Permit

Step 1: Ensure You Have the Necessary Tools and Payment Method

To apply online, you'll need access to a scanner or camera to digitize your documents, as well as a valid credit or debit card for payment.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Instructions

Even if you're applying online, it's essential to review the instruction guide beforehand. This guide provides detailed explanations on how to complete each section of the application form. Note that Venezuelan passport holders may have additional requirements to fulfill.

Step 3: Prepare Your Answers for the Online Tool

Before uploading your documents, you'll be prompted to answer specific questions. These responses help generate a personalized checklist of required documents tailored to your application.

Step 4: Understand the Applicable Fees

In most cases, you'll need to pay processing fees for yourself and any dependents included in your application. Payment is typically required at the conclusion of the application process. If you're applying for an open work permit, be sure to account for both the work permit fee (CAD155) and the open work permit holder fee (CAD100).

Step 5: Create or Log In to Your Online Account

An online account is necessary for submitting your application, making payments, and checking your application status. Whether creating a new account or accessing an existing one, this step is essential for managing your application efficiently.

After You Apply - What Happens to Your Work Status?

Permit Expires After Applying for Extension/Change:

The good news is that applying to extend or modify your work permit before expiry allows you to stay in Canada while a decision is made legally. This includes authorization to continue working under your current permit's conditions.

  • Employer-Specific Permits: You can maintain your current employment (same employer, job, and location) until a decision is reached.
  • Open Work Permits: Holders can continue changing employers and jobs as usual.

Proof of Continued Work Authorization:

Depending on whether you applied online or on paper, you can provide different forms of proof to your employer or others:

  • Online Application: You'll receive a letter (WP-EXT except PGWP) within your account, acting as temporary authorization to keep working.
  • Paper Application: While no letter is issued, you can show proof of application submission (copy of application, fee payment receipt, tracking information).

Applying for Study Permit or Visitor Status:

If you applied for a study permit or visitor record extension while your work permit is valid, you can continue working until your work permit reaches its expiry date. However, upon expiry:

  • Work Must Stop: You can no longer work in Canada.
  • Study Permit Application: Studying is also on hold until a decision is made on your application.

Permit Expired Before Applying:

If your permit expired before applying for a new work permit, study permit, or visitor status extension, you're no longer authorized to work in Canada. Additionally, if you didn't adhere to your permit conditions, you might face challenges. However, there might be an option to restore your worker status - explore this possibility with an immigration professional.

Changing Employers with an Employer-Specific Work Permit

Eligibility for Early Work Authorization

If you hold an employer-specific work permit and plan to change jobs or employers in Canada, you might be eligible to work for your new employer before your new work permit application is approved. This applies to everyone except:

  • Business Visitors: Individuals on business visitor visas cannot work in Canada.
  • Global Skills Strategy Workers: Workers under the Global Skills Strategy with short-term permits cannot request early work authorization.

Requirements for Early Work Authorization

To qualify for this benefit, you must meet two conditions:

  • Submitted New Employer-Specific Work Permit Application: You've already applied for a new work permit tied to your new employer.
  • Current Work Status: You currently hold either:
    • An employer-specific work permit
    • An exemption allowing you to work without a permit (not including business visitors or Global Skills Strategy workers)

How to Request Early Work Authorization

Here's how to request authorization to work while your new employer-specific work permit application is being processed:

Step 1: Submit an IRCC Web Form

Fill out the IRCC web form and ensure you copy the relevant text snippet (based on your situation) into the "Your Enquiry" section. Be sure to replace bracketed information with the following details:

If you applied on paper and don't have your application number, include your courier tracking number for easier application retrieval.

Important Note: To expedite processing of your request, include the code PPCHANGEWORK2020 when pasting the text snippet. Omitting this code may cause delays.

Step 2: Await Email Response

After submitting the web form, expect a response from IRCC via email within 10-15 business days (longer if you applied on paper). This email will inform you of your authorization to work while your application is being processed. Remember, this email is not your actual work permit.

What to Do If You Want to Travel Outside Canada and Then Re-Enter

If you plan to travel outside Canada and return, ensure you have a valid passport along with your work permit. Depending on your country of origin, you may also need either a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA). Having an eTA or visa, along with your permit, doesn't guarantee re-entry; you must meet border services requirements. Visa-exempt nationals also require an eTA if traveling by air. Automatic issuance of eTA with renewed work permits began in May 2017.

Renewing Your Work Permit and Travel

Renewed work permits issued after May 1, 2017, automatically include an eTA. However, if your permit was renewed before this date and you lack an eTA, you must obtain one for air travel back to Canada. Lawful permanent residents of the United States must carry a valid passport and green card for all travel modes to Canada as of April 26, 2022.

Travel Requirements for Citizens from Visa-Required Countries

Citizens from visa-required countries need a valid visa and work permit to re-enter Canada. If returning directly from the US or St. Pierre and Miquelon, a visa isn't necessary. However, if your visa has expired or was single-entry, you must reapply. Some visa-required citizens receive an eTA upon work permit renewal, valid for five years or until passport expiry, for air travel to Canada. U.S. citizens should carry a valid passport for air travel and relevant documents for other modes of entry.


Can I Keep Working While I Wait for My Work Permit Extension?

Yes, in most cases! If you submit your application to extend your work permit before it expires, you're legally authorized to continue working under your current permit's conditions while IRCC processes your request. You'll receive a letter (WP-EXT except PGWP) for online applications as temporary proof of authorization.

I Want to Change Employers with My Employer-Specific Work Permit. Can I Start My New Job Right Away?

Potentially! You might be eligible to request authorization to work for your new employer before your new work permit application is approved. This allows you to transition jobs sooner potentially. However, there are eligibility requirements and a specific process to follow through the IRCC web form.

My Work Permit Expired Before I Applied for Renewal. Can I Still Work in Canada?

Unfortunately, no. If your work permit expires and you haven't applied for a renewal or another immigration status like a study permit, you're no longer authorized to work in Canada. It's crucial to maintain a valid work permit to avoid interrupting your employment.