Under the International Exchange Canada program, Canadians and foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 35 can take advantage of bilateral agreements on youth mobility to work abroad. Qualified foreign nationals will receive a work permit without having to apply for a Labour Market Opinion. Foreign nationals applying under a bilateral agreement must be a citizen of one of the countries with which Canada holds a bilateral agreement on youth mobility.
There are three types of International Exchange Canada programs:
Working Holiday – This program is for applicants whose intention is to travel in Canada and work in order to supplement their financial resources. Participants in this category may receive an open work permit with a validity period of 12 months.
International Co-Op – This program is for individuals who are registered post-secondary students and whose intention is to fulfill part of their academic curriculum in Canada by completing a pre-arranged work permit that this related to their field of study. Participants in this category may receive an employer-specific work permit with a suggested validity period that reflects the length of their contract of employment.
Young Professionals – This program is for applicants to gain work experience in Canada under a pre-arranged contract of employment in support of their career development. Participants in this category may receive an employer-specific work permit with a suggested validity period that reflects the length of their contract of employment.
The work permits may not exceed the validity period of the participant’s passport. As well, participants may not request to attend their stay.
But what if they want to apply for permanent residence?
In Kiselus v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), the Applicant was in Canada under the Working Holiday program. Her employer told her that she would be offered full-time employment if she became a permanent resident of Canada. The Applicant applied under the Federal Skilled Workers Program. She submitted that she had an Arranged Offer of Employment. The relevant regulations regarding arranged offers of employment reads:
Arranged employment (10 points)
82(2) Ten points shall be awarded to a skilled worker for arranged employment in Canada in an occupation that is listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A or B of the National Occupational Classification matrix if they are able to perform and are likely to accept and carry out the employment and
(a) the skilled worker is in Canada and holds a work permit and
(i) there has been a determination by an officer under section 203 that the performance of the employment by the skilled worker would be likely to result in a neutral or positive effect on the labour market in Canada,
(ii) the skilled worker is currently working in that employment,
(iii) the work permit is valid at the time an application is made by the skilled worker for a permanent resident visa as well as at the time the permanent resident visa, if any, is issued to the skilled worker, and
(iv) the employer has made an offer to employ the skilled worker on an indeterminate basis once the permanent resident visa is issued to the skilled worker;
(b) the skilled worker is in Canada and holds a work permit referred to in paragraph 204(a) or 205(a) or subparagraph 205(c)(ii) and the circumstances referred to in subparagraphs (a)(ii) to (iv) apply;
The Immigration Officer held that s. 82(2)(a) did not apply as the Applicant had not demonstrated that her employment would result in a neutral or positive effect on the labour market in Canada.
The Officer also found that the Applicant could not rely on the exemption contained in s. 82(2)(b) as s. 204(a) did not apply. Section 204(a) provides that:
204. A work permit may be issued under section 200 to a foreign national who intends to perform work pursuant to
(a) an international agreement between Canada and one or more countries, other than an agreement concerning seasonal agricultural workers;
The obvious question that arose was whether or not the Working Holiday Program constituted an international agreement between Canada and Latvia. Both the immigration officer and the court found that it did not. The Court noted that while the Working Holiday Program is clearly an international agreement, a more accurate description of the program is found in s. 205(b) of the Regulations, which provides that:
205. A work permit may be issued under section 200 to a foreign national who intends to perform work that
(b) would create or maintain reciprocal employment of Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada in other countries;
As section 205(b) is not one of the sections encompassed by s. 82(2)(b) of the regulations, the individual could not rely on that provision to have a valid offer of arranged employment.
International agreements refer more to agreements in areas such as civil aviation, international free-trade, emergency services, etc.
The implication is clear. If an individual is in Canada on a Working Holiday Program, and wishes to use that job as a stepping stone to obtaining permanent residency in Canada under the Federal Skilled Workers Program, then they should be prepared to demonstrate why their employment would be have either a positive or neutral impact on the Canadian labour market. Another option would be to apply under a Provincial Nominee Program. The individual should not, however, assume that they are in Canada under an international agreement that exempts them from the general requirements of an arranged offer of employment.