International Experience Canada

Meurrens LawWork Permits

International Experience Canada (“IEC“) provides young individuals the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. The program has grown considerably since it was introduced in 1951, and in 2016 IEC comprised 22% of International Mobility Program (“IMP“) work permits, making it the largest component of the IMP.

The IEC Programs

Participation in IEC is currently available to the citizens of 34 countries that have a bilateral youth mobility arrangement (a “YMA“) with Canada.  The three most common IEC programs are the Working Holiday Program (the “WHP”), the Young Professionals Program (the “YPP“) and the International Co-op Internship (the “IEC Co-Op“).  While eligibility requirements vary somewhat for each country, participation is typically open to young adults between the ages of 18 to 30 or 35.

Under the WHP, participating young adults obtain open work permits which allow them to work anywhere in Canada.  This is the largest IEC stream, and comprises 81% of IEC.

Under the YPP, participating young adults can obtain employer-specific work permits if they have a job offer that contributes to their professional development related to their field of study and work for the same employer for the duration of their stay.

Under the IEC Co-Op, participating young adults can obtain an employer specific work permit if they are enrolled in a post-secondary institution, have a job offer that is related to their field of study and work for the same employer for the duration of their stay.

A breakdown of the programs in these 34 countries can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website here, and specific program rules for each country can be found here.

The Quotas

The IEC has quotas for the number of people that can come to Canada under a YMA.  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) negotiates these quotas.  In 2014, IRCC set an objective of welcoming two foreign youth IEC participants to Canada for every Canadian youth IEC participant going abroad.  As shown in the table below, the ratio is currently not being met, with many more foreign nationals coming to Canada than Canadians going abroad.

Approval Rates

Recent IEC approval rates for the top source countries are:

Application Process

An IEC application consists of two process.  The first is to complete a personal profile on the IRCC website, where an individual’s eligibility is determined. If the individual is eligible, they can then be invited to participate through a lottery-based system, with selected candidates receiving an Invitation to Apply (an “ITA“).  If they receive an ITA, then the second step is to submit an application.

Other Reciprocity Based Youth Work Permits

Citizens of other countries, including the United States and India, should check the IEC website to see if other less utilized programs, such as the Students Working Abroad Program, encompasses them.  IRCC has negotiated numerous Memorandums of Understanding (“MOUs“) with third-party Canadian organizations known as Recognized Organizations (“ROs“).  People applying through ROs follow a slightly different process, as, in addition to applicants completing profiles, the ROs will submit a list of names to IRCC.  IRCC will then validates their profiles.

While most information for the IEC is available online, we have reproduced copies of internal training manuals below to provide additional information who want to comprehensively understand what happens with their application, and what issues may cause delays.  Please note that this reproduction has not occurred with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, and the document was obtained through an Access to Information Act request.