International Experience Canada (IEC) is a set of programs enabling young people from participating countries to travel to Canada to live and work temporarily. Foreign nationals who are successful through one of the IEC programs will be authorized to apply for a Canadian work permit without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). IEC authorizes temporary stay in Canada, with the approval of work permits for a maximum of one year.
IEC work permits are approved through a randomized draw system. Not all foreign nationals who submit expressions of interest will be selected for the program. Chances of success depend on the quota for each program and country. The IEC operates three separate programs. While IEC has general requirements, interested applicants should verify the requirements for the separate programs. Each program has unique requirements and can result in a different form of work authorization:
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
- International Co-op Internship
It should be noted that while IEC encompasses these three programs, Canada has a unique relationship with each of the participating countries. For this reason, some participating countries may only offer one or two of the IEC programs, while others will offer all three options.
To participate in International Experience Canada a foreign national must be within the accepted age range for their country’s program (maximum age of 35 years old) and their country of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada allowing the foreign national to apply for a work permit. The following countries have agreements with Canada under IEC:
|Country||Working Holiday||Young Professionals||International Co-op Internship|
IEC encompasses three separate programs. Member countries may not participate in all three types programs. As well, eligibility criteria, application procedure, and likelihood of success vary from program to program and from country to country. Full details about participating countries’ program requirements can be accessed on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. If a country is not listed it may still be possible to participate in IEC. However, in this case, the foreign national must access the program through the assistance of a Recognized Organization.
Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday visa is ideal for individuals who want the freedom to work for any employers while travelling in Canada. Applicants who are successful through the Working Holiday program receive an open work permit. Open work permits are not tied to specific employers, so individuals have the freedom to change employers and locations while living in Canada. The Working Holiday program is a good option for foreign nationals from participating countries who are seeking the following:
- Those without a job offer from a Canadian employer
- Those who want the freedom to work for more than one employer
- Those who would like the freedom to live in more than one location
- Those wishing to earn money while travelling
As the Working Holiday program has relatively relaxed requirements, this program is incredibly popular. Canada approves predetermined quotas of applicants for this program on a per-country basis. Applicants interested in this program should verify the quotas for their country in order to gain an accurate understanding of their probability of success.
The Young Professionals program allows foreign nationals to gain Canadian professional work experience by working with a Canadian employer. This program requires that applicants have a job offer from a Canadian employer in order to apply. Applicants who are successful through the Young Professionals program will be issued an employer-specific work permit. This means they must work for the same employer in the same location during their stay in Canada. The Young Professionals program is a good option for foreign nationals from participating countries who are seeking the following:
- Those with a job offer from a Canadian employer which contributes to their professional development.
- Those who intend to work for the same employer in the same location while in Canada
- Those whose work will be: paid and not self-employed
Generally, a position must be National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Level 0, A, or B to be considered as contributing to professional development. Participating countries have varying quotas to be filled annually for this program. Interested applicants should verify quotas for their country to understand the probability of their success.
The International Co-op Internship program allows international students to complete an internship or work placement in Canada as a requirement for their post-secondary education. This program requires that applicants have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada which is required for their completion of studies. Applicants who are successful through this program receive an employer-specific work permit, meaning that they must work for the same employer in the same location during their stay in Canada. The International Co-op Internship program is a good option for foreign nationals from participating countries who are seeking the following:
- Those who are international students registered at a post-secondary institution
- Those with a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada
- Those requiring a work placement or internship to complete their studies
- Those willing to work for the same employer in the same location during their stay in Canada
- Interested applicants should consult the requirements for their country to verify exact application procedures as well as quotas for the program.
IEC Application Procedure Foreign nationals interested in applying to an IEC program must follow a five step process:
Step One: Create an IEC profile
Once a foreign national determines that their country participates in IEC and selects their preferred program, they may create an account on the IEC website. As long as they meet the eligibility requirements their account is automatically entered into the IEC pool of candidates.
Step Two: Receive an Invitation to Apply
IEC regularly conducts random draws of IEC candidates. If a candidate is selected in a draw, they will be issued an Invitation to Apply, which enables them to move onto step three. Quotas vary by program and by country, so candidates should verify their country’s quotas to gain a better understanding of their probability of receiving an Invitation to Apply.
Step Three: Accept the Invitation to Apply
If a candidate receives an Invitation to Apply, they are given 10 days to accept the invitation. After accepting, they are given 20 days to submit an online application for a work permit. If an applicant chooses to decline an invitation they will be returned to the pool of candidates and will continue being considered in future draws.
Step Four: Submit Work Permit Application
After accepting an Invitation to Apply, a foreign national has 20 days to submit a work permit application online using the IRCC web portal. Applicants should review documentation requirements in advance so they can be sure they will have sufficient time to prepare the application.
Step Five: Receive Work Permit
If an application is successful, the applicant will receive confirmation of their work permit and issued information about the validity period of their authorization to work in Canada.