Canada and South Korea sign new deal to promote work opportunities for youth

Julia Hornstein
Published: June 4, 2023

On May 23rd, 2023, Ali Ehsassi, Member of Parliament for Willowdale, on behalf of the Honorable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced the signing of a new Canada-South Korea Youth Mobility Arrangement.

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Under this arrangement, youth from the two countries will have more options when applying for international work and travel opportunities in each other’s respective country through the International Experience Canada (IEC) or the South Korean equivalent.

The new arrangement features improvements on the existing memorandum of understanding that was created in 1995:

  • The eligibility age will increase from 18–30 to 18–35.
  • Two new streams, the International Co-op (Internship) and the Young Professionals stream, will be added to complement the existing Working Holiday category.
  • Most youth will also have the option to participate twice in the program—each time for up to 24 months.

The Canadian government expects to implement the new arrangement in 2024. “As Canada and South Korea celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations this year, I am very pleased that our two countries have signed a new youth mobility arrangement. International experience and perspectives are particularly important in today’s global economy. That’s why the Government of Canada continues to support and create reciprocal arrangements for Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s country.” said Sean Fraser.

What is the International Experience Canada (IEC)?

The IEC is a reciprocal program that allows Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s countries. Canada has signed youth mobility agreements with 36 countries and foreign territories.

Work permits issued under the IEC are exempt from the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The program has three categories:

  • Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.
  • International Co-op (Internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
  • Young Professionals participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.

Eligibility requirements for the IEC include:

  • Be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the above countries or be a resident of one of the territories that have a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement 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 between the ages of 18 and 30 or 35 at the time of application (the upper age limit depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship);
  • Have the equivalent of $2,500 CAN upon landing 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,
  • Not be accompanied by dependents; and
  • Pay the appropriate fees.

The IEC operates on an Expression of Interest/Invitation to Apply (ITA) model. Eligible candidates create an IEC profile but must receive an ITA before they may submit an application.

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