What is the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program?
The International Experience Canada (IEC) issues work permits for foreigners whose countries have a bilateral agreement with the Canadian government. Only applicants between 18-35 years may qualify for the International Experience Canada. However, specific age and eligibility requirements may vary by country.
The IEC Program covers three categories:
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
- International Co-op
Working Holiday Visa
Applicants for this program usually receive an open work permit valid for a maximum of two years. Foreign nationals with open work permits can work anywhere in Canada for almost any Canadian employer.
This category is for applicants who want to be flexible in their search of an employer or even employers in Canada. Moreover, they don't need to be restricted to a particular location. This type of visa doesn’t require a job offer.
This program allows citizens of participating countries to acquire valuable international experience by working for a Canadian company. Candidates under this category receive an employee-focused work permit if found eligible for the program.
This category is for applicants who already have a job offer for a paid position that helps them develop their professional skills. Among other conditions, an applicant must work for the same employer during his stay in Canada.
To receive a work permit as a young professional under the International Experience Canada, a candidate must present a signed job offer letter or employment agreement with a Canadian employer. The occupation must fall into a National Occupation Code (NOC) Skill Type Level 0, A, or B.
International Co-op Internships
This program allows citizens of participating countries who are students at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship to have an internship opportunity in Canada. Applicants must undergo internship in a certain Canadian company, so under this category, eligible applicants also receive an employer-specific work permit.
The requirements are pretty much the same as for the Young Professionals Program (they need a job offer and plan on working for the same company during their stay in Canada) with the only exception that they have to be enrolled in a post-secondary institution. In addition, before applying for the International Co-op Internship Program, applicants must arrange co-op placements with Canadian employers.
The International Experience Canada Program Eligibility Requirements
First of all, you must be a citizen of one of the 34 countries that have a bilateral agreement with Canada and must be between the ages 18-35 at the time of application.
It is important that the International Experience Canada candidates show they can support themselves financially for the first three months of their stay in Canada. So you should secure at least $2,500 for initial expenses. This also includes a round-trip ticket or a bank statement that you have enough financial resources to purchase a departure ticket at the end of your authorized stay in Canada. The International Experience Canada applicants need to obtain health insurance for the duration of their stay as well.
Individuals with criminal background won’t be allowed to enter Canada. Therefore, you will have to provide a letter from the police department proving your admissibility to the country.
The work permit under the International Experience Canada won’t allow you to bring any dependents with you.
The International Experience Canada Application Process
The first step towards applying for one of the IEC programs is creating an IEC profile. You need to choose the program you want to apply for and submit the application.
Note that you might qualify for more than one program. If the IRCC selects you, you’ll receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). Then, you’ll have 10 days to start or decline your application. After you press the “Start Application”, it means you accept the ITA; you’ll have 20 days to submit your work-permit and pay relevant fees. In the IEC Young Professional and International Co-op programs, your employer should pay $230 and send you a job offer before the 20 days expire.
You might be required to present additional documents. If the IRCC approves your application, they will send you a Letter of Introduction (LOI). This letter you need to bring with you to Canada to present at the Port of Entry. This is where you will be issued a work permit.
Employer-Specific Work Permit
Some work permits under the International Experience Canada Program specify the employer a foreigner can work for. Additionally, this type of work permit might even state how long he can work for a particular company and the whereabouts of the work.
The IEC Young Professionals and International Co-op internship foreign nationals, for example, can work for the same employer in more than one location. As a matter of fact, the employer that hires them should be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency and indicate the company’s number when processing a job offer to a foreign candidate. Young Professionals or International Internship applicants must work in the occupation which corresponds to their studies, training or professional experience.
It is possible to change an employer under the employer-specific work