International Experience Canada (IEC) Program
IEC is a program designed to allow youth the opportunity to work in Canada for temporary periods.
Youth from over 30 different countries can get an open work permit so they can work for any employer of their choice in Canada. IEC is meant to help build economic, social, and cultural ties between Canada and peer countries. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page provides an overview of how you can benefit from IEC.
Table of Contents
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
- International Co-op
- Employer-specific Work Permits
- Countries with Bilateral Youth Mobility Agreements with Canada
- Eligibility Requirements for the IEC Program
- How IEC works
- Contact the Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
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. Work permits issued under IEC are exempt from the requirement for a Labor Market impact Assessment (LMIA).
The LMIA is the labour market test that the Canadian government often uses to assess how the potential arrival of foreign workers may affect workers in Canada. However, International Experience Canada exists to promote Canada's economic, social, and cultural ties with participating countries. As a result, IEC participants can obtain a Canadian work permit through the following options.
Participants in the Working Holiday category 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.
- 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.
Under the Young Professionals category, 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.
- 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
The International Co-op Internship category 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.
- are registered at a post-secondary institution outside of Canada;
- 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 a 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.
Countries with Bilateral Youth Mobility Agreements 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|
|Andorra||Up to 12 months||N/A||N/A||18-30|
|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 12 months **|
Up to 12 months **
|Up to 12 months **||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|
|Mexico||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||Up to 12 months||18-29|
|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||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|
|Ukraine||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.
**Candidates may participate twice for a total of 24 months.
Eligibility Requirements for the IEC Program
- be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the above countries or be a resident of one of the territories 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 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 have 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 $153 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.
There are scenarios where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may allow IEC work permit holders to extend the validity period of their work permit to reach the maximum validity period allowed within a specific category.
As a rule, no work permit extensions are authorized under the IEC program. However, IEC participants may be able to extend the validity period of their work permits beyond what was initially granted by the border services officer at the time they entered Canada. These scenarios are outlined below.
Contact Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
Would you like to enter Canada to work on a temporary basis? The Cohen Immigration Law can help. Cohen Immigration Law offers over 45 years of expertise assisting workers and employers navigate Canadian immigration regulations.
Please complete this short form to submit your work permit query directly to Cohen Immigration Law. Our Work Permit Team is here to help: