International Experience Canada
See what it’s like to live and work in Canada.
Many countries encourage young people to live and work abroad before settling in back at home through a work exchange or working holidays. Canada is no exception. International Experience Canada is their program to encourage young people from different countries to come and work in Canada.
- Travel while working with a Working Holiday
- Gain international work experience as a Young Professional
- Get work experience in your field with an International Co-op
Eligibility for International Experience Canada
Youth is relative. You need to be at least 18, but the cutoff ranges from 30 to 35. You must be at least 18 on the date you create your profile, but you can enter Canada after you get your POE, even if you’re now older than the cut-off age.
You’ll need to provide proof of at least $2,500 CAD.
Canada has bilateral youth mobility agreements with quite a few countries. In case you’re wondering, the US isn’t one of them. That’s okay, since your country doesn’t have to be on the list for you to participate.
The requirements and amount of time you can spend in Canada vary depending on your nationality.
Find your country on the CIC list to see the particular details for each one.
If your country isn’t on the list, don’t lose hope. You can still apply through a Recognized Organization (RO).
The IEC application process
In the past, applications were processed in the order they were received. Now it’s much more like Express Entry, where people are chosen based on their personal factors.
- See if you’re eligible using the Come to Canada tool.
- Use your personal reference code to create a MyCIC account. Select the option to Apply for Visitor Visa, Study, and/or Work Permit and complete your IEC profile.
- You’re placed in the pool and must wait for your invitation to apply (ITA). Be sure to set up email notifications for your MyCIC account and add the email to your address book. If you do not receive an ITA, your profile expires after a year.
- When you’re sent an ITA, you must accept it within 10 days or it will expire. If it expires, you’ll be put back in the pool and may be given another invitation in the future. If you have a job offer, your employer needs to submit that to the IRCC at this point.
- Once you’ve accepted the ITA, you have 20 days to apply for your work permit. This is when you pay the fees for your program.
- It takes about eight weeks for your application to be processed. You can check current processing times. If it’s approved, you’ll receive a Port of Entry (POE) letter.
- Depending on your nationality, you may need to send your passport to the embassy to get a visa.
- Take your POE letter with you to the airport and present it to customs when you land. The visa officer at customs will give you your work permit. You must enter Canada within 12 months of when your medical exam was done.
If you’d prefer that in cartoon form, the CIC has you covered.
Don’t buy a plane ticket to Canada, buy health insurance, lease an apartment, or cut ties with your home country until you have your POE.
Make sure you’re ready
Check to ensure your application is complete, your resume is polished, and you’re ready for life in Canada.
A comprehensive list of the documents you’ll need for Express Entry, with or without a spouse.
Even if you have enough points for an ITA without one, most of us want to find work ASAP.
Don't take my word for it
Read interviews with other people who successfully moved to Canada from countries around the world.
Types of IEC permits & the selection process
Working Holiday visas provide you with an open work permit. Applicants are selected from the pool at random.
If you’re applying for a Working Holiday work permit and you are asked for an offer of employment number, type “A9999999” in the field
Young Professional & International Co-op applicants will be invited to apply for a work permit as long as there are spots available. These programs require that you have a job or co-op/internship arranged when you apply for your IEC work permit. Your permit will only be valid for that employer.
You can only change your employer if the company has closed, you are not being paid the wages you were promised, your working conditions are unsafe, or if you have been fired.
If your work contract ends before your work permit does, you can renew your contract with the same employer, stay in Canada as a visitor until your permit expires, or leave Canada before your permit expires.
You may be able to extend your stay in Canada as a visitor after your work permit expires. You need to do this before your work permit expires. If you’re from a country that doesn’t require visas to visit Canada and the US, you can also simply cross from Canada into the US and re-enter Canada as a tourist.
Documents you need for IEC
You have a maximum of 30 days from when you’re given your ITA to when your application needs to be submitted. It can easily take more than 30 days to gather all of the paperwork, so you should start the process before getting your ITA.
International Co-op applicants must provide proof of school registration and an internship agreement outlining the position title, description of tasks to be performed, the start and end dates, the address of the internship site, and the employer’s contact information.
Applicants applying through an RO must include a copy of the confirmation letter from the RO.
Proof of means of financial support
Proof of funds can be any of the following:
- Bank statements for four months showing at least $2,500 CAD
- A bank cheque for $2,500 CAD
- Pay stubs
- Proof of a student loan providing funds
- A letter of support from the person or institution funding you
Depending on your nationality, you’ll likely need to provide a police certificate. If you’ve lived in more than one country, you’ll need to provide them all in one document, as there is only one upload field.
Getting a police certificate can take a very long time. You can upload your receipt or a screenshot of the confirmation page as proof that you’ve requested the police certificate and they’ll provide you with a new deadline.
Not every applicant requires a medical exam. This depends on what type of job you’re applying for and if you’ve lived in or traveled to certain countries. You have to go to a panel physician. They’ll give you a form for you to upload with your application. If you can’t get a medical exam before your 20 days are up, you can upload proof that you’ve scheduled one.
CV or resume
A typical Canadian style chronological resume, fitting this general formatting. This should include your education, qualifications, work experience, and the city and country where you currently live.
You must provide a passport photo that meets CIC specifications.
Passport and/or travel documents
Your work permit will only be issued for as long as your passport is valid. You also need at least one blank page, other than the last page.
Visitor visa application
If you come from a country that requires visitor visas, you’ll need to apply for a visitor visa. You will automatically get an eTA once your work permit application is approved. If you leave and re-enter Canada, check to make sure your eTA is still valid.
Needless to say, if any of the documents you submit are forged or contain false information, the CIC will be very unhappy. Your application will be denied and you could be barred from Canada for five years.
Arriving in Canada
When you arrive in Canada, you’ll need to provide the following information to a Border Services Officer:
- Your passport
- Your POE letter
- Proof of funds
- Proof of health insurance
- A ticket to leave Canada at the end of your stay or proof of funds to purchase a ticket.
If you are doing an unpaid co-op, you may be asked to provide proof of enough money to support yourself for the entire time.
If you are bringing $10,000 CAN across the border with you, you must declare this to the border services officer.
If you’ve lost your POE letter, Canada is very nice and will give you a new one.
Your health insurance must be valid for your entire stay. It needs to cover medical care, hospitalization, and repatriation. If your insurance coverage ends before your expected stay, your work permit will expire when your insurance does. Your work permit cannot be extended. A provincial health card will not meet this requirement.
You can be refused entry into Canada if you’re missing any of these documents.
When you’re given your work permit, check it over carefully before you leave the international zone. If there’s a mistake on the work permit, tell a border services officer immediately.
You don’t have to activate your work permit as soon as you arrive in Canada. If you would like to enter Canada as a visitor you can, but you’ll need to exit and re-enter Canada in order to activate it.
Planning your trip
You’re responsible for everything about planning your time in Canada, from completing the application to finding a job and getting a place to stay. If you’d like to have help organizing these details, you can work with a Recognized Organization.
After your work permit expires
You can’t renew or extend your IEC work permit. Some countries allow you to participate multiple times. You may also be eligible to get a work permit through another program. If you’re applying for a new work permit, you must apply at least 30 days before your current work permit expires.
International Experience Canada: $150 CAD
Working Holiday: additional $100 CAD
Young Professional & International Co-op: your employer must pay a $230 CAD compliance fee and submit your offer of employment to IRCC before you submit your work permit application.
Additional paperwork (costs for New York City)
Police certificate: $18
Medical exam: $350
Passport photos: $20
I moved to Canada without an immigration attorney or consultant and you can, too.
Now that I’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, I'm writing the guides I wish I’d had.
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- Getting pets across the border
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If you want the step by step process on how to immigrate to Canada, here it is. I found the book easy to read, inspiring, and very informative.
Useful for getting a general overview of the process all in one place, rather than searching around the internet.
This book is clearly exhaustively-researched. Each section gives detailed information on how to begin the process of moving to Canada, with super informative with real-world examples and step-by-step instructions. I found the section on health care and taxes especially informative!
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A lot of the other books about moving to Canada talk about what it’s like to live in Canada, whereas this book talks about how to actually get there. A must have for anybody thinking about immigrating.
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