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International Experience Canada Opens For Foreign Youth Seeking Work In Canada

Posted on March 5, 2015
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IEC program can be pathway to permanent residence in Canada

The 2015 application cycle for the International Experience Canada (IEC) program will begin in earnest this month, with young citizens from 32 countries that have a bilateral youth mobility arrangement with Canada having the opportunity to live and work in Canada across three categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op.

Depending on the applicant’s country of citizenship, age and the IEC category to which he or she is applying, foreign youth may live, work and travel in Canada for up to 24 months.

Working Holiday

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. An open work permit allows its bearer to work anywhere in Canada and for almost any Canadian employer.

With some countries’ IEC Working Holiday cateogries having been closed for many months, demand for visas is expected to be high. IEC Working Holiday visas for citizens of France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, for example, are renowned for being snapped up very quickly. Indeed, the first round of IEC Working Holiday visas for Irish citizens were allocated within eight minutes last year.

To be eligible for the Working Holiday category, candidates must:

  • be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the 32 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 (inclusive) at the time of application (the upper age limit depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship);
  • have the equivalent of C$2,500 on 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.

Citizens of certain countries are also required to be resident in their country of citizenship at the time they apply to the IEC Working Holiday category.

Young Professionals

The Young Professionals category is designed for foreign youth, particularly post-secondary graduates, 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 applicant’s field of expertise, as proved by area of training or work experience, and contribute to  his or her professional development. The job offered in Canada 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. Applicants must want to complete a work placement or internship in Canada to fulfill part of their academic curriculum and be registered students for the duration of the internship. Visas issued under this category are generally valid for up to 12 months.

Applicants 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 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) program or Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program.

The CEC, FSW and FST programs are all 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 one or more of the following advantages in the competitive Express Entry system:

  • IEC participants may have built up at least one year of Canadian work experience during their stay in Canada, which may make them eligible under the CEC and provide points under theComprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
  • Given that CRS points are awarded on a sliding scale for candidates between the ages of 18 and 44, IEC participants will be awarded points for this factor.
  • IEC participants who come to Canada under the Young Professionals or International Co-op categories are required to have obtained, or be in the process of obtaining, a post-secondary degree. If the candidate applies for an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) verifying that his or her study program is equivalent to a Canadian one, he or she may be awarded additional CRS points.
  • IEC participants have the opportunity while in Canada to build relationships with employers and provincial communities. This can help when looking for an employer willing to undertake the process of obtaining a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or when seeking a nomination from a Canadian province. If the candidate can obtain either a qualifying job offer from a Canadian employer supported by an LMIA or a provincial nomination, he or she will be awarded 600 CRS points and will subsequently 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.

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit

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