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 the ages of 18 and 35 may be eligible for IEC work permits.

The IEC program is composed of three categories:

Working Holiday

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.

This category is for individuals who:

  • do not have a job offer;
  • want to work for more than one employer in Canada;
  • want to work in more than one location; and/or
  • want to earn more so they can travel.

Young Professionals

Under this program, citizens of participating countries can gain valuable international experience by working for a Canadian company. Applicants to this category receive an employer-specific work permit if approved.

This category is for individuals who:

  • have a valid job offer in Canada for a paid position that contributes to their professional development; and
  • plan on working for the same employer during their stay in Canada.

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.

International Co-op Internship

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. Applicants to this category would receive an employer-specific work permit.

This category is for individuals who:

  • are registered at a post-secondary institution;
  • have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada that is required to complete their studies;
  • plan on working for the same employer during their stay in Canada.

Participants must arrange co-op placements with Canadian employers before applying.

Employer-specific Work Permits

An employer-specific work permit is a work permit that indicates the name of foreign worker’s employer, occupation, work location, along with the duration of the authorized period of work.

The IEC may allow Young Professionals and International Co-op internship candidates to work for the same employer in different locations. In order to do so, the different locations of the Canadian business must be operating under the same Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business number, and addresses of the work locations, along with the CRA number, must be provided at the time the Offer of Employment is submitted. Further, it is critical that the occupation, duties and wages remain consistent from one location to another.

Young Professionals or International Co-op Internship applicants are required to maintain employment in Canada that is relevant to their studies, training or professional experience.

In some cases, Young Professionals or International Co-op Interns holding employer-specific work permits may request a change of employer. Prior to submitting a new work permit application, the participant must, as part of its request for a change of employer, provide the required documentation regarding the new employer and occupation. Additionally, the participant must be prepared to provide a justification, which may include reasons such as company closure. The decision to approve such a request is at the discretion of the case processing agent.

Should a change be requested after the initial work permit has been issued and during a participant’s stay in Canada, the authorized period of work will, in accordance with bilateral agreement/arrangement, be reduced by the amount of time that has already elapsed.

Eligibility requirements for the IEC program

Candidates must:

  • be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the 35 countries that have a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement 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.

How the IEC works

The IEC operates on an Expression of Interest/Invitation to Apply model. Eligible candidates 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 online 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 your account, you will 10 days to start your application or to decline the invitation. If you accept, click the “Start Application” button in your account to start the work permit application process.
  • After you press the button “Start Application”, 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.
  • For Young Professional and International Coop categories, your employer needs to pay the $230 Employer Compliance Fee through the Employer Portal before your 20 days expire. 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 your account.
  • For Working Holiday Category, applicants pay their open work permit holder fee of CAD $100 at this time as well.
  • At this point, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) begins its temporary work permit application assessment. IRCC may ask you to provide additional documents. This is the last chance to withdraw from IEC and obtain refunds. IRCC typically processes complete applications within eight weeks.
  • If the application is successful, a letter of introduction (LOI) will be sent to your 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.

Countries with bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Canada

The validity/length of each visa type is specified in the three central columns and will depend on the nationality of the applicant and the visa type that he or she has applied for.

Country Working Holiday Young Professionals International Co-op Age Limit
Australia Up to 24 months Up to 24 months Up to 12 months (unless it is the applicant’s second participation since 2015, in which case, 12 months) 18-35
Austria Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 6 months (internship or work placement must be in forestry, agriculture, or tourism) 18-35
Belgium Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-30
Chile Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Costa Rica Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Croatia Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Czech Republic Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Denmark Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-35
Estonia Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
France* Up to 24 months Up to 24 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Germany Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Greece Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Hong Kong Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-30
Ireland Up to 24 months Up to 24 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Italy Up to 6 month work permit – may apply to stay an additional 6 months as a visitor N/A N/A 18-35
Japan Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-30
Latvia Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Lithuania Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Luxembourg Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-30
Netherlands Up to 12 months Up to 12 months N/A 18-30
New Zealand Up to 23 months N/A N/A 18-35
Norway Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Poland Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Portugal (starting in 2019 EIC season) Up to 24 months Up to 24 months Up to 24 months 18-35
San Marino Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-35
Slovakia Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Slovenia Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
South Korea Up to 12 months N/A N/A 18-30
Spain Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Sweden Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-30
Switzerland N/A Up to 18 months Up to 12 months 18-35
Taiwan Up to 12 months Up to 12 months Up to 12 months 18-35
United Kingdom Up to 24 months N/A N/A 18-30

*Citizens can participate in special IEC student summer job initiatives exclusive to their country.

NOTE: Canada's bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangements with Mexico and Ukraine are currently under review and Invitations to Apply for an IEC permit are not being issued at this time.

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