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.

Work permits issued under IEC are exempt from the requirement for a Labor Market impact Assessment and fall into one of three categories:

Young Professionals under International Experience Canada (IEC) visa

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 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 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 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 $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.

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.

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.

Click on any scenario below to view all the relevant information relating to that scenario.

If the border services officer at the port of entry issued a work permit for a shorter period than what was indicated in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) remarks, the IEC participant may be able to have this error corrected. For example, IEC work permits issued under the Working Holiday category to Irish or Australian citizens may be valid for up to 24 months, whereas IEC work permits issued under the same category to German citizens may be valid for up to 12 months. However, the visa officer may err and issue an Irish or Australian participant with a work permit that is less than 24 months in validity. (Note: These are just examples. For a full list of participating countries, categories, and work permit validity, click here.

If such an error is made, and the participant's passport validity covers the entire period (24 months), and he or she has health insurance coverage for the entire period and has met all medical requirements, the following steps may be taken:

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will allow the participant to submit an application to amend the validity period of his or her work permit up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • Participants should send a paper application to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V) using the guide 5553, Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Worker.

Under this scenario, the employer (if applicable) is not required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC participant remains exempt from having to pay the work permit processing fees and participation fees.

If the validity period of the offer of employment is 24 months, and the participant's private health insurance policy covers the 24 months, but he or she was issued a work permit of shorter duration to match the validity period of the passport, then:
  • IRCC will allow the participant to submit an application to amend the validity period of his or her work permit up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement on presentation of a new passport.
  • Participants should send a paper application to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V) using the guide 5553, Applying to Change Conditions or Extend Your Stay in Canada – Worker.

Under this scenario, the employer (if applicable) is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC participant remains exempt from having to pay the work permit processing fees and participation fees.

If the participant was issued a work permit with a validity period that matches the validity period of his or her health insurance, which is shorter than the validity period in the offer of employment or, in the case of an open work permit issued under the Working Holiday category, shorter than the duration indicated in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) remarks, then:
  • IRCC will not allow the participant to submit an application to amend the validity period of his or her work permit up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement.
  • The applicant failed to obtain travel insurance that fully covers his or her anticipated stay, as stipulated in his or her letter of introduction; therefore, the work permit application will automatically be denied.
  • The IEC participant cannot increase the validity period of his or her work permit. If he or she receives a work permit with a shorter validity period due to the length of his or her insurance coverage, he or she is not eligible to apply to increase the validity period of the work permit at a later date.
  • He or she may be able to create a new IEC profile for a second participation if
    • his or her country of citizenship allows multiple participations; and
    • he or she still meets IEC eligibility criteria.
  • The participant may also be able to apply for a work permit outside the IEC Program under another program, which may or may not be exempt from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment. Applications for another work permit should be submitted at least 30 days before the participant's IEC work permit expires in order to apply from within Canada.

In some cases, the validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement, but the IEC participant was issued a work permit with a duration that corresponds with the offer of employment.

In such a scenario, the participant may then receive a new offer of employment from the same employer for the same location and same duties to extend his or her employer-specific work permit (same conditions of the initial offer of employment) to reach the maximum validity period allowed in the bilateral agreement or arrangement. (Note: This scenario is not applicable to the Working Holiday category, under which open work permits are issued rather than employer-specific work permits.)

  • This is an application for an increase in the length of validity of the participant’s work permit allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • IRCC will allow the participant to submit an application to amend the validity period of his or her work permit up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • The IEC participant is permitted to increase the validity period of his or her work permit to the maximum validity period allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement only once per participation.
  • The IEC participant must provide proof that he or she has full health insurance coverage for the entire duration that they are applying for (this additional coverage may be purchased after arrival).
  • The IEC participant can increase the validity period of his or her work permit if he or she stays with the same employer to reach the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • This is an extension within the participation and counts as the same participation.
  • Any new participation must be applied for in a regular manner by submitting a profile to the pool and waiting for an Invitation to Apply.
  • The applicant is responsible for restoring his or her status, if required, and paying the appropriate processing fees.

Under this scenario, the employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The IEC participant remains exempt from having to pay work permit fees and participation fees.

In this scenario, the validity period of the offer of employment is shorter than the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement. The IEC participant was issued a work permit with a duration that corresponds with the offer of employment. Furthermore, the participant receives a new offer of employment from the same employer but to work at a different address (office) or in a different city, province or territory, and wants to extend his or employer-specific work permit (with the same duties and company but at a different address) to reach the maximum validity period allowed in the bilateral agreement or arrangement. (Note: This scenario is not applicable to the Working Holiday category, under which open work permits are issued rather than employer-specific work permits.)
  • IRCC will not allow the participant to submit an application to amend the validity period of his or her work permit up to the maximum duration allowed under the bilateral agreement or arrangement.
  • This is a change of condition in the IEC participation. Changing location but keeping the same employer and duties is seen as a new participation, as the IEC participant’s work permit is issued for a specific employer, at a specific location.
  • The participant may be able to create a new IEC profile for a second participation if
    • his or her country of citizenship allows multiple participations; and
    • he or she still meets IEC eligibility criteria.
  • The participant may also be able to apply for a work permit outside the IEC Program under another program, which may or may not be exempt from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment. Applications for another work permit should be submitted at least 30 days before the participant's IEC work permit expires in order to apply from within Canada.

If the participant applied for a new LMIA-exempt work permit, the new employer is required to submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee. The participant must pay the applicable work permit processing fees if he or she applies for a work permit application outside the IEC Program.

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