International Experience Canada (IEC)
Canada has bi-lateral agreement with several countries that permit a certain number of their citizens to come and work in Canada for a given period of time.
How it works
Eligible candidates are able to create an IEC profile and enter a pool of candidates on line. An application for a work permit can only be made if a candidate receives an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
The type of pool(s) that a candidate find himself or herself in is determined by nation and by category. For example, Working Holiday candidates from Australia are in one pool, while Young Professionals candidates from France are in an entirely different pool. Moreover, countries that have more than one category (such as Australia and France) have separate pools for those categories. Accordingly, a citizen of Australia or France (for example) who is eligible for more than one category may be entered into more than one pool. Countries that have only one category, such as Korea, consequently have only one pool.
The Working Holiday category has traditionally been the most popular portion of the IEC program, as it offers the advantage of an open work permit.
IRCC will select Working Holiday candidates from the pool at random and invite them to apply. Completing an online IEC profile and entering the Working Holiday pool does not guarantee that an ITA will be issued. Working holiday candidates may be in a pool for several months, and some candidates may not receive an ITA before the end of the season
Categories depending on participating countries
Working Holiday (travel and work): Participants are eligible to apply for an open work permit to allow them to work for any employer or location in Canada to subsidize their stay as they travel and discover the host country.
Young Professionals (career development): Participants are eligible to apply for an employer-specific work permit to help them gain targeted experience in their profession or field of study.
International Co-op (internships for students only): Participants in the internship category are eligible to apply for an employer-specific work permit to help them gain targeted experience in their field of study.
Work permits issued under the IEC are exempt from the requirement of a positive LMIA
Applicants must meet the age requirement applicable to them as defined in the bilateral agreement or arrangement between Canada and their country or territory of citizenship on the date they submit their work permit application. Most countries set the age requirement to be between 18 and 35 on the date applicants submit their work permit application.
However, agreements and arrangements with Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom set the age requirement to be between 18 and 30, and the bilateral agreement with Mexico sets the age requirement to be between 18 and 29.
The passport must be valid for at least one day beyond the date of the applicant’s planned departure from Canada.
IEC applicants must possess sufficient financial resources (minimum of $2,500 CAN) to cover any expenses (e.g., room and board) that may be incurred at the beginning of their stay. IEC applicants who intend to take an unpaid work placement in Canada under the International Co-op (internship) category may be asked by the border services officer to prove they have additional financial resources to cover their expenses for their entire stay.
Applicants do not have to show proof of healthcare insurance at the time of the application. They are, however, required to declare that they will purchase comprehensive healthcare insurance, including insurance for hospitalization and repatriation, for the entire duration of their authorized period of stay in Canada. It is imperative that IEC applicants have healthcare insurance during their stay in Canada so that they do not make an excessive demand on Canada’s health care system. Applicants should be advised that they should purchase their healthcare insurance only after they have received their LOI.
Foreign nationals applying under a bilateral arrangement or agreement may be permitted to benefit from the IEC program more than once in their lifetime. Some bilateral agreements and arrangements require foreign nationals to apply under a different category (i.e., Working Holiday, International Co-op or Young Professionals) for their second participation. Some countries require the two stays to be discontinuous.
Spouse or dependents
An applicant and their family members may not benefit from the IEC program as a family unit under one IEC application. However, this does not prevent dependant(s) from submitting their own individual request to come to Canada (e.g., spouse may submit their own application to benefit from the IEC program).
The children of an IEC participant are not eligible to obtain a study permit by virtue of the participant’s IEC application. They must submit their own application for a study permit if they intend to study in Canada.
For candidates, the 2015/16 IEC season will operate as follows:
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 (some candidates may only be eligible for one pool).
If you receive an ITA via MyCIC, you will have 10 days start your application or to decline the invitation. application process.
If you choose to accept the ITA, 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 Co-op 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 C$150.
(Working Holiday Category: pay your open work permit holder fee of C$100 at this time as well.)
At this point, CIC begins its temporary work permit application assessment. CIC 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.
Staying in Canada after an IEC visa expires
The opportunities provided by the IEC program lead many participants into wishing to extend their stay in Canada, or even make Canada their permanent home. To this end, participants may have a number of options.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is an immigration program that provides an opportunity for individuals with Canadian work experience 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 Canadian immigration 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 the competitive Express Entry system. This may result their young age and level of education, as well as the possibility of having gained skilled work experience while in Canada.
IEC participants also have the opportunity to build relationships with Canadian employers and provincial communities. This can help when looking for a qualifying job offer or seeking an enhanced nomination from a Canadian province. If the candidate can obtain either of these, he or she will be awarded points and may receive an Invitation to Apply for permanent residence.
IEC participants with experience of living and working in the province of 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. Neither of these programs are processed through the Express Entry system.