International Experience Canada
International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program designed to allow youth the opportunity to work in Canada for temporary periods.
Citizens of countries with a bilateral youth mobility arrangement with Canada who are between 18 and 35 years old may be eligible for IEC work permits.
The IEC program is composed of three categories:
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
- International Co-op
Participants in this program can receive an open work permit, valid for one to two years. Open work permits allow participants to work anywhere in Canada for almost any Canadian employer. Nationals of some countries may be allowed to stay in Canada for more or less than one year.
Under this program, citizens of participating countries can gain valuable international experience by working for a Canadian company. A signed job offer letter or contract of employment with a Canadian employer related to the applicant’s professional development is required before applying.The job offered must be classified as a National Occupation Code (NOC) Skill Type Level 0, A, or B.
This program allows citizens of participating countries who are enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship to spend a period of time interning for Canadian companies. Participants must arrange co-op placements with Canadian employers before applying. Applicants must be registered students for the duration of the internship.
Eligibility requirements for the IEC program
- be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the 33 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 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.
Please note that specific age and eligibility requirements may vary by country.
IEC program changes
Some significant changes to the IEC program and its sub-categories came into effect for the 2015/16 season. These changes will continue for the 2017 season. In short, the program has moved from a first-come, first-served model to an Expression of Interest/Invitation to Apply model. Eligible candidates can create an IEC profile, but must receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) before they may submit an application.
The following is a chronological step-by-step overview of how the IEC program works:
- Complete the Come to Canada questionnaire and, if eligible, get your personal reference code.
- Use this code to create your MyCIC account.
- Complete the remaining steps in the IEC profile builder.
- Submit your profile and choose the IEC pools you want to be in.
- If you receive an Invitation to Apply via MyCIC, you will 10 days start your application or to decline the invitation. If you accept, click the “Start Application” button in your MyCIC account to start the work permit application process.
- After you press the button “Start Application” in MyCIC, you have 20 days from that day, regardless of whether you accept on day 1 or 10, to complete, pay and submit the work permit application.
- (Young Professional and International Coop categories: before your 20 days expire, your employer needs to pay the $230 Employer Compliance Fee through the Employer Portal. Ask your employer to send you the offer of employment number they will get after they have paid their fees. You need this number to apply for your work permit.)
- Upload all supporting documents, including police and medical exam certificates, if applicable (if you don’t have the supporting documents, you can upload proof that you have applied to undertake a medical exam and that a police certificate request has been sent).
- Pay your participation fee of CAD $150 with a credit card through the online payment system in MyCIC.
- (Working Holiday Category: pay your open work permit holder fee of CAD $100 at this time as well.)
- At this point, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC, formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada, or CIC) begins its temporary work permit application assessment. IRC may ask you to provide additional documents. This is the last chance to withdraw from IEC and obtain refunds.
- If the application is successful, a letter of introduction (LOI) will be sent to your MyCIC account. The official name of the document is Port of Entry (POE) Introduction Letter.
- This letter is to be presented upon arrival at a Port of Entry (such as an international airport) in Canada, whereupon a work permit may be obtained.
Although no work permit extensions are authorized under the IEC program, there are certain scenarios that allow participants to increase the validity of an IEC work permit.
IEC program for 2017
The IEC program for the 2017 season began on October 17, 2016, when pools for all three categories (Working Holiday, Young Professionals, International Co-op) reopened. Citizens of 33 countries that have a reciprocal agreement with Canada may create a profile, after which they may receive an Invitation to Apply for an open work permit. The new system outlined above — which was also used for the 2016 season — is being retained for 2017.
The dates of the first rounds of invitations for each country and category, along with the quotas, have not yet been announced.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) oversees the IEC program. The department provides a minimum of five days notice before the final rounds of invitations for any given country and category, prior to the closing of a pool at the end of a season.
IRCC typically processes complete applications within eight weeks.