A Canada International Co-Op is one of the programs under the International Experience Canada (IEC).
“Co-op” means “cooperative education.” Young people with a valid study visa from specific countries can apply for a work permit to study and work in Canada. Approved candidates usually can stay in the country for a year.
This type of work visa serves the purpose of inviting students to acquire Canadian work experience in their field of study.
The IEC International Co-Op requires an employment agreement from a Canadian company before arriving in Canada. The work permit is also known as "employer-specific" because international students must work for the same employer and in the exact location.
Eligibility for the Canada International Co-Op
Contrary to another IEC program, Working Holiday Visa, the IEC International Co-Op candidates must secure a job offer for an internship in Canada; it should be an employment offer that corresponds to one’s field of study and professional development.
All occupations in Canada are grouped in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Type Level 0, A, or B. In addition, a NOC C or low-skilled occupations such as industrial butchers, long-haul drivers, or food servers that only require a high-school diploma or job-specific training or certificate are also allowed under the International Co-Op.
- To prove that internship is essential to complete the applicant’s study program;
- be a passport holder of a country that has a bilateral agreement with Canada;
- Have a valid passport for the duration of their stay in Canada;
- meet maximum age requirement (18-35);
- have enough funds to cover expenses in Canada;
- get health insurance for the duration of their stay in Canada;
- be admissible to Canada;
- not be accompanied by dependents.
Many applicants usually need to prepare documents in advance. For example, participants who have resided in a foreign country for more than six months since the age of 18 might be required a police certificate from that country.
Candidates interested in the program, in the first place, should fill out the “Come to Canada” questionnaire, which determines if a candidate qualifies for the IEC International Co-Op work permit.
After the eligibility gets confirmed, an applicant can create a profile in the International Co-Op pool of his country. They will need to upload necessary documents, such as an enrollment letter from a university or college, an internship agreement between the employer and the applicant, and the location of his internship. The agreement must indicate:
- The position title;
- The list of tasks assigned to a student;
- Exact Internship dates;
- The internship location's address;
- Contact information for the employer.
After paying the fee, the applicant will receive the Offer of Employment number, which needs to be submitted to the immigration department. Consequently, the selected candidates will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).
IEC International Co-op Application Process
Here are the stages behind the scene of the application process.
- Completing the questionnaire
All applicants under the Canada International Co-Op, first, must receive their personal reference code after completing the questionnaire.
- Creating a profile
Once the IRCC personal code is obtained, our legal representatives will open a profile on the Canadian immigration government website.
- Submitting the profile and a job offer
The next stage is to submit the applicant’s profile together with a job offer.
- Receiving an Invitation to Apply
Approved candidates will receive the invitation with ten days to start the application.
- Competing and submitting the IEC application
During the subsequent 20 days, the application will be completed and submitted.
- Involving an employer
During those 20 days, an employer will be referred to the Employer Portal, and an applicant will get a job offer number for a work permit application.
- Uploading all supporting documents
All supporting documents will be uploaded, including a police certificate, medical exam, health insurance, etc.
- Paying fees
Payment includes the program participation fee, biometrics fee, and work permit fee.
- Receiving a Port of Entry Letter
Approved candidates will receive a Port of Entry letter to their account.
- Getting prepared for a trip
At this final stage, candidates will get information about travel restrictions and quarantine rules due to COVID-19.
As the ICCRC immigration lawyer processes the work permit application, Solid Visa clients will be notified about necessary documents and forms to be submitted.
The IEC International Co-Op FAQ
Where can I work?
You can have only a work placement in a field you are studying at your DLI (Designated Learning Institution).
Can I stay in Canada longer than a year?
This program is typically meant only for one year, with some exceptions for participants from Australia, Portugal, and Switzerland. If you want to stay longer, a better solution would be reapplying for the program. You can also consider another IEC category, Young Professionals, which might be another option to extend your stay in Canada.
Can I leave Canada and re-enter?
You can leave the country and return as long as your visa is valid.
Do I need a Social Security Number?
Co-ops are paid internships, so an international student will need a Social Security Number before starting work.
How much will I get paid?
The wages for co-op jobs vary depending on the field, tasks, location, and the company.
When should I apply for an International Co-Op work permit?
The IEC International Co-Op program is a year-round program that has an opening and closing date. The season is usually announced in November or December and closes the next year around late fall too.