IEC provides opportunities for young Canadians and foreign nationals, aged 18-35, to gain travel and work experience in each other’s countries for up to two years.

There are approximately 32 countries that participate in the bilateral youth mobility arrangement with Canada. However, you must check which programs are open to your country of citizenship. The IEC is comprised of three categories.

Working Holiday: Participants in this program receive an open work permit for 1 to 2 years. The purpose of this program is to allow visitors of Canada the opportunity to fund their travels while visiting Canada.

Young Professional: Under this program, citizens of participating countries can gain professional work experience in Canada. An offer of employment from a Canadian employer is required for this option.

International Co-op: This program allows students who are presently enrolled at a foreign educational institution the opportunity to complete a work placement or internship in Canada as part of their academic curriculum.

How to take part:

If you would like to take part in one of the IEC programs you must first become a candidate in one of the IEC pools.

To determine your eligibility to enter one of the IEC pools, your country of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada to allow you to apply for an IEC work permit. Not all countries participating in a bilateral youth mobility arrangement have access to all three of the above mentioned categories and so it is important to confirm whether your country has access to the program in which you would like to take part. If you are from a country that does have access to the category for which you would like to apply, or if you are from a country that does not have an arrangement or agreement with Canada, it is still possible to apply using a recognized organization. A list of these recognized Organizations for IEC can be found on the CIC website. Your eligibility can be determined by using the Come to Canada tool found on the CIC website which can determine the categories for which you are eligible. The Come to Canada tool will provide you with a reference code that will need to be used when creating your MyCIC account to apply for the program.

Once you have determined that you are eligible for one of the categories, you must create an account on MyCIC. Using this account you must create and submit your IEC profile online, which will then place you into a pool of applicants from your country of citizenship for the categories for which you would like to be considered. Once you are in the pool, CIC will hold regular draws to determine who will receive an invitation to apply for a work permit to come to Canada. If you receive an invitation, you will have ten days to accept the invitation and 20 days after accepting to apply online for a work permit. As applying for the work permit requires not only proof of what was stated in your IEC profile but other background information (which could include a police certificate, medical exam, or proof of financial means), it is recommended that you start preparing and acquiring this information as soon as you enter the IEC pool. If you do not receive an invitation to apply within 12 months, your profile will expire and you will be removed from the pools. You may create a new profile at this point and rejoin the pools to be considered once again to take part in IEC.

If your application for a work permit is approved, you will receive a Letter of Introduction (LOI). You must present this Letter at the Port of Entry when you arrive to Canada to be issued your work permit. It is possible to enter Canada before you receive your LOI, but it will be up to Border Officials to determine whether to admit you as a visitor. You are not entitled to work while in Canada on visitor status. Additionally, if you are in Canada when you receive your LOI, you must leave Canada and re-enter at any Port of Entry to receive your work permit. If you plan to leave and re-enter Canada through the United States, you must meet US immigration requirements to be allowed entry into the US.

It is not possible to extend your IEC work permit beyond the total amount of time allowed by the agreement between Canada and your country of citizenship. However, some countries allow participation in the program more than once. If that is the case, you may reapply from outside of Canada. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may have to wait a specified period of time before you can make your second application. The waiting period does not begin until your first IEC work permit has expired. Alternatively, if your employer would like to continue your employment you may be able to get a new work permit. To obtain a new work permit your employer will be required to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

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