November 9, 2015
International Experience Class (IEC) – What you need to know for the 2016 Season
If you are interested in living and working in Canada for a year (or two), then International Experience Canada (IEC) may be your ticket! IEC is a program available through bilateral youth mobility agreements (YMA) between Canada and 32 countries.
How it works
Depending on which country you are from, there are three different work and travel experiences under the IEC program:
- Working Holiday: This program provides participants with an open work permit allowing them to work for any employer in Canada. Employment does not need to be arranged in advance.
- Young Professionals: This program is designed for those who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada. Participants must have a signed letter of offer or contract from an employer in a skilled occupation before applying.
- International Co-op Internship: This is a program for students enrolled in a post-secondary institution who intend to complete a work placement or internship in Canada as part of their education. Participants must have the work placement or internship in Canada arranged before applying and require a signed letter of offer or contract.
Each IEC category has specific criteria that must be met in order to participate and each country has their own set of eligibility requirements, yearly quotas, and a date on which the program will open. For example, in 2015 the Working Holiday program in Italy opened in April and had a quota of 1,000. Italian citizens must be between the ages of 18 and 35 and the work permit was only available for 12 months and cannot be renewed. By comparison, the Australian Working Holiday program in 2015 opened in March, had an unlimited quota for Australian citizens between 18 and 30 and work permits were available for up to 24 months.
How to apply
IEC has closed all categories and waiting lists for 2015 and is preparing for the 2016 season. Once your country’s IEC program opens in 2016, the application process is completed in two steps:
Step 1: Apply to IEC online through Kompass to receive a Conditional Acceptance Letter (CAL)
Kompass is the online system used to complete an IEC application. After creating a Kompass account you can submit all documents and fees. If successful, you will receive a Conditional Acceptance Letter (CAL). It is important to note that a Kompass account can only be made once the IEC quota is open for your country. Also note that your spot is secured only once the completed IEC application is submitted, not when a Kompass account is made.
Step 2: Apply for a work permit through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
After you receive a CAL, you have 14 days to apply for a work permit to Canada. This is done online by creating a MyCIC account. During this application process you will be asked to upload your CAL and other required documents. Once complete you will submit your work permit application. It may take up to 6 weeks for your application to be reviewed. If successful, you will receive a Letter of Introduction (LOI). Once you arrive in Canada, you will present the LOI at the border and a work permit will be issued, as long as you remain admissible to Canada.
Although IEC is closed for 2015, if you currently have a valid Conditional Acceptance letter, you are still able to submit a completed work permit application in MyCIC by 17 November 2015.
Tips to secure a spot in 2016
- Be aware: IEC is a very competitive program and spots fill up quickly on a first-come first-serve basis. Since different countries open their IEC program at different times, it is important to monitor CIC’s website to become aware of the exact time the IEC program opens for your country. It is difficult to predict when this may be. In the 2015 season, programs in some countries began to open in February and some were as late as May.
- Be prepared: In anticipation of the date, your application should be prepared and ready to submit the exact moment the program opens. Be sure to gather all documents in advance. For example, a police clearance is required by most countries and can take several weeks or months to obtain. Also, be sure that your passport is valid for the duration of your stay in Canada as your work permit in Canada will not be longer than the validity of your passport.
2015 participating countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
For more information on work permits, please click here.