The International Experience Canada (IEC) program has reopened, giving thousands of young people from many countries around the world the opportunity to live and work in Canada on a temporary basis. As of October 17, 2016, eligible candidates from countries that have a reciprocal agreement with Canada are able to create a profile and enter the pool for their country and category.
The IEC program has proven to be a particularly popular initiative among international youth over recent years. Many individuals who come to Canada on an IEC work permit end up remaining longer, sometimes permanently, once they get a taste for all that Canada has to offer. Other IEC participants take the opportunity explore various parts of Canada over the course of their time in Canada.
The IEC program is divided into three categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op. The most popular of these categories is typically the Working Holiday category, as it allows participants to obtain an open work permit. This kind of work permit authorizes its holder to work for any employer in Canada. Depending on a candidate’s country of citizenship and personal circumstances, he or she may be eligible for more than one of these categories.
Last year’s IEC changes retained for 2017
Until 2015, the IEC application procedure operated on a first-come, first-served basis. In many cases, demand far outweighed the supply of visas available for certain countries.
However, changes were introduced for the 2016 IEC season, whereby eligible candidates first create an IEC profile and enter a pool of candidates for their country and category (or categories, if the candidate is eligible for more than one category). An application for a work permit can only be made if a candidate subsequently receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA). ITAs are issued at random during regular rounds of invitations per country and per category.
This new system is being retained for the 2017 IEC season. Eligible candidates can submit a profile as of October 17, 2016, but will need to wait for an ITA in order to complete their application.
In order to be eligible for the Working Holiday category, candidates must:
- be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the countries that have a bilateral youth mobility agreement with Canada;
- have a valid passport for the duration of their stay in Canada (the work permit issued will not be longer than the validity of the passport),
- be within the age limits (inclusive) at the time of application (the age limits depend on the candidate’s country of citizenship);
- have the equivalent of C$2,500 on landing in Canada to help cover initial expenses;
- be able to take out health insurance for the duration of their stay (participants may have to present evidence of this insurance at the point of entry in Canada);
- be admissible to Canada;
- have, prior to departure, a round-trip ticket or the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket for the end of their authorized stay in Canada; and
- not be accompanied by dependents.
The Young Professionals category is designed for foreign youth who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada. Participants must have a signed job offer letter or contract of employment with a Canadian employer before applying.
The employment offer must be within the candidate’s field of expertise, as proved by area of training or work experience. The job offer must be classified as a National Occupation Code (NOC) Skill Type Level 0, A, or B. The requirements for the Working Holiday category, listed above, also apply to the Young Professionals category.
International Co-op (Internship)
The International Co-op (Internship) category is designed for foreign youth who are enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship. Candidates must want to complete a work placement or internship in Canada to fulfill part of their academic curriculum and be registered students in their home country for the duration of the internship.
Candidates must have a signed job offer letter or contract for a work placement or internship in Canada that meets the requirements of their academic curriculum in their country of citizenship. The requirements for the Working Holiday category, listed above, also apply to the International Co-op category.
Staying in Canada after IEC Participation
The professional and cultural experiences that may be gained by IEC participants are, in many cases, life changing. Consequently, many IEC participants go on to secure further status in Canada, either as a worker or as a permanent resident.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an immigration program that provides an opportunity for individuals who have worked in Canada to immigrate permanently. IEC participants may also be eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) class or Federal Skilled Trades (FST) class.
All three of these immigration programs are processed through the Express Entry selection system. IEC participants who are eligible to enter the Express Entry pool under one of these programs may find that they have certain advantages within this competitive system, as skilled Canadian work experience is highly rewarded in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
Through their participation in the IEC program, participants also have the opportunity to build relationships with Canadian employers and provincial communities. This can help towards eligibility for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). In addition, IEC participants with experience of working in Quebec may be eligible to apply under either the Quebec Experience Program or the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, both of which lead to Canadian permanent residence.
IEC Overview for 2017 season
The validity/length of each visa type is specified in the three central columns and will depend on the nationality of the applicant and the visa type that he or she has applied for.
|Country||Working Holiday||Young Professionals||International Co-op||Age Limit||2017 Opening Date (DD/MM/YY)|
|Australia||Up to 24 months||Up to 24 months||Up to 12 months||18-30||17/10/16|
|Austria||N/A||Up to 12 months||Up to 6 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Belgium||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
|Chile||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Costa Rica||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Croatia||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Czech Republic||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Denmark||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-35||17/10/16|
|Estonia||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|France*||Up to 24 months||Up to 24 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Germany||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Greece||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Hong Kong||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
|Ireland||Up to 24 months||Up to 24 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Italy||Up to 12 months (of which up to 6 months may be paid employment)||N/A||N/A||18-35||17/10/16|
|Japan||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
|Korea||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
|Latvia||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Lithuania||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Mexico||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-29||“The youth mobility agreement between Canada and Mexico is currently under review. As a result, the pools are not open.”|
|Netherlands||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
|New Zealand||Up to 23 months||N/A||N/A||18-35||17/10/16|
|Norway||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Poland||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Slovakia||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Slovenia||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Spain||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Sweden||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-30||17/10/16|
|Switzerland||N/A||Up to 18 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Taiwan||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||17/10/16|
|Ukraine||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-35||“The youth mobility agreement between Canada and Ukraine is currently under review. As a result, the pools are not open.”|
|United Kingdom||Up to 24 months||N/A||N/A||18-30||17/10/16|
*Citizens can participate in special IEC student summer job initiatives exclusive to their country.
Individuals from countries not listed above may still avail of the opportunities provided by the IEC program by availing of the services offered by a Registered Organization (RO) for foreign youth.
If you have any questions about participating in the IEC Program, please send an enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org. A work permit expert will get back to you.
Individuals who have lived and worked in Canada through the IEC program, intend to do so in the future, or are doing so now may fill out a free assessment form that evaluates eligibility for Canadian permanent residence.
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