Can I continue working even if my Canadian work permit expires?

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: October 9, 2023

Many Canadian work permit holders will, at some point, look to extend or change their permit to continue being employed in Canada.

If you are a foreign national in this position, it is important to understand that your ability to continue working after your permit expires depends on when you applied for a permit extension/change.

More specifically, only temporary workers who applied for a work permit extension/change prior to the conclusion of their original permit are eligible to continue working after their first permit expires*.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

*Rules pertaining to work permit holders who apply for a study permit or visitor record differ slightly, more on that later

Why can some temporary workers continue working with an expired permit?

People who submit a work permit extension/change application in advance of their original permit’s expiry have successfully maintained their status in Canada and obtained authorization to work until their new application has been finalized.

Temporary workers who find themselves in this situation can legally continue employment in this country. The temporary worker must:

  • Remain in Canada
  • Work under the exact same conditions as their original work permit

How these rules differ depending on your unique situation

Work permit extension applicants must continue to work under the same conditions listed on their current work permit if they have an employer-specific (closed) permit. Those who applied for a new work permit must continue to work for the employer named on their original permit until a decision is made on their most recent application. When a decision is final, the temporary worker may begin employment under the new permit’s conditions if approved.

In the case that they have an open work permit (OWP), the temporary worker is free to change employers and jobs.

Finally, work permit holders who are applying for a study permit or visitor record may only work until their original permit expires. At this time, these applicants must legally stop working and those who applied for a study permit also cannot study until a final decision is made on their application.

Proving to your employer that you remain eligible to work in Canada

Work permit extension applicants, as well as those who are applying for a new work permit, may need to prove to their employer that they are authorized to continue working in Canada even after their first permit expires.

In either case, the proof that a work permit holder can provide depends on whether they applied for their permit extension/change online or on paper.

Online Applicants

Online work permit extension/change applicants can show their employer the following documents as proof of their continued eligibility to work in Canada:

  • Work permit extension letter (WP-EXT except PGWP) received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); this should be shown to an employer alongside your current work permit
  • In the case that an applicant does not receive a final decision on their work permit extension/change by the expiry date on their WP-EXT letter, they can prove they are still eligible to work by showing their employer this webpage or by contacting IRCC

Paper Applicants

On-paper work permit extension/change applicants can show their employer the following documents as proof of their continued eligibility to work in Canada:

  • A copy of their work permit extension/change application
  • Proof that they paid their fees for the work permit extension/change application
  • A copy of their application’s postal or courier tracking information

Note: On-paper applicants do not receive a WP-EXT letter because IRC needs to ensure that their application is complete, and that the applicant meets the requirements to work in Canada

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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