International Experience Canada (IEC)

What is IEC?

IEC, or International Experience Canada, is an immigration program designed to give young people a chance to travel and work in Canada. This is made possible by several Youth Mobility Agreements between Canada and over 30 other countries and territories. These agreements are mutual, so young Canadian citizens can also take advantage of this program to travel and work abroad. Citizens of countries without IEC agreements may also be able to take advantage of the program through Recognized Organizations.

 

IEC for Canadians:

 

IEC is not just a great opportunity for foreign citizens to visit and expand their careers or studies in Canada. Since Youth Mobility Agreements are mutual, young Canadian citizens have the opportunity to participate in similar programs around the world. The Government of Canada website offers a helpful page with information on partner countries, programs available and tips on planning a trip abroad. 

 

What are the general requirements for IEC?

 

There are three separate programs for Canada under IEC. Eligibility requirements differ between programs and also depending on your country of citizenship. The most general eligibility criteria, shared by all programs, is age. Participants generally must be aged 18 to 35 years. For some countries, the age limit is 18 to 29 or 30 years old. Participants must also be citizens of a partner country, or affiliated with a recognized organization.

 

IEC Programs:

There are three different programs under which candidates can apply to come to Canada:

Working Holiday

This program is ideal for people looking to explore Canada and work to help fund their stay. The work permit granted in the Working Holiday program is an Open Work Permit, which means it’s not tied to a specific job offer or employer. Rather, holders of an Open Work Permit may work for almost any employer in Canada, with some conditions for certain areas such as healthcare, eldercare, and childcare.

 

Young Professionals:

This program is for professionals looking to come to Canada to further their career. The work permit associated with this program is an Employer-Specific Work Permit. Unlike holders of Open Work Permits, who are able to take different jobs with different employers, this work permit is tied to a specific job. As such, a job offer is necessary to apply, and participants have to work in the same position during their stay in Canada. The job being offered needs to be classified as TEER category 0, 1, 2, or 3 under the National Occupation Classification (NOC) system. A job classified under TEER category 4 may qualify if it relates to an applicant’s field of study. 

 

International Co-op (Internship):

This program is aimed at post-secondary students with an offer for an internship or work placement in Canada. The placement or internship being offered must be a requirement to graduate and directly related to a participant’s field of study. Like participants of the Young Professional programs, successful candidates would hold an Employer-Specific Work Permit, and be tied to the same position throughout their stay in Canada.

 

Partner Countries:

Certain programs are only available to citizens of certain countries, and some countries have different age limits. Below is a table of all partner countries, their age limits and availability for each IEC program in Canada: 

Partner Country

Age Limit

Working Holiday

Young Professional

International Co-op

Andorra

18-35

Yes

No

No

Australia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Austria

18-30

Yes

Yes

Yes

Belgium

18-30

Yes

No

No

Chile

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Costa Rica

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Croatia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Czech Republic

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Denmark

18-35

Yes

No

No

Estonia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

France

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Germany

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Greece

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Hong Kong SAR

18-35

Yes

No

No

Ireland

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Italy

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Japan

18-30

Yes

No

No

South Korea

18-30

Yes

No

No

Latvia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Lithuania

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Luxembourg

18-30

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mexico

18-29

Yes

Yes

Yes

Netherlands

18-30

Yes

Yes

No

New Zealand

18-35

Yes

No

No

Norway

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Poland

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Portugal

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

San Marino

18-35

Yes

No

No

Slovakia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Slovenia

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Spain

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sweden

18-30

Yes

Yes

Yes

Switzerland

18-35

No

Yes

Yes

Taiwan

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

Ukraine

18-35

Yes

Yes

Yes

United Kingdom

18-30

Yes

No

No

 This up-to-date version of this table, including helpful links, can be found at the Government of Canada website.

 

Recognized Organizations (ROs):

 

Recognized Organizations allow citizens of non-partner countries to participate in IEC programs. They can also be used by citizens of partner countries to facilitate the process.

 

A list of Recognized Organizations and more information on using ROs to help with IEC can be found on the Government of Canada website

Can IEC Lead to Staying in Canada Permanently?

While there are no direct pathways into permanent immigration, participating in an IEC program can be a great way to acquire eligibility for a number of immigration programs. Canadian work experience obtained during an IEC program can help a candidate meet the eligibility criteria for Express Entry programs such as the Canadian Experience Class, as well as several Provincial Nominee programs.

 

For more information on which immigration option is best for you and your business, or for assistance designing your longer-term immigration strategy, reach out to me directly through my contact page. We can set up a consultation to find the immigration option that works best for your specific needs!

 

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post were accurate at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information provided above. This blog post is not updated on a regular basis.

Co-written by Lucas Almeida and Rebecca Tripp

Originally posted on December 20, 2022

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