International Experience Canada (IEC): all you need to know

There are various programs to immigrate to Canada. It can be objective-based (e.g., live, work, visit, and study) or duration-based (e.g., permanent or temporary).

This article will discuss one of the temporary residency options called International Experience Canada; IEC from zero to hero. Let’s get started! ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is International Experience Canada (IEC)?

International Experience Canada (IEC) is one of Canada’s immigration programs that typical immigrants give the slightest attention to. Yet, it includes an efficient and lucrative set of temporary residency programs that you can take advantage of, especially when you are a careful decision-maker (or if you’re generally adventurous).

If you want to work or travel in Canada temporarily, IEC is your best go-to option. Eligible foreigners are authorized to apply for a Canadian work permit without having Labour Impact Market Assessment (LMIA). In addition, you are allowed to live and work in Canada for a maximum of 2 years. This is possible thanks to Canada’s international agreement with multiple countries! See EIC Eligibility.

The selection of applicants happens through a randomized draw system. Much like other immigration programs, not everyone who expresses interest is automatically granted an IEC Work Permit. Interested applicants should verify their qualifications depending on the program they opt for, not to mention Canada’s agreement with their country of origin.

Published on September 9, 2021

Table of Contents

View of one of Canada's cities
If you wish to work and travel in Canada the International Experience Canada (IEC) may be the right pathway for you!

3 Types of IEC Programs

There are three types of programs under IEC. These are Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op.

To have the freedom to work in Canada as you travel and explore the country is the primary goal of this program. This is ideal if you want to have complete travel plus work experience or fund your trip. Successful applicants will have an open work permit which enables them to find their employer. With this permit, you have the flexibility to change employers and jump from one location to another.

Typically, you don’t need a job offer to be eligible for the program. But because of the pandemic, all applicants must have a valid job offer. In addition, some employers may require a medical examination.

This program is perfect for young foreign nationals who want to have professional work experience in Canada. Individuals under this program are given an employer-specific work permit. This means you are not allowed to change your employer nor jump locations during your stay in Canada.

A job offer is required to be considered for this program. You must also have National Occupation Classification (NOC) Skill Level 0, A, or B. NOC Level C may qualify if presented with a post-secondary diploma, certificate, or degree.

If you’re a student seeking an internship abroad, this program is for you. Similar to the Young Professionals Program, successful applicants under International Co-op are given employer-specific work permits.

You must be a student currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution or university to be eligible for this stream. In addition, a valid job offer for a work placement internship in Canada is a must.

IEC Eligibility: Who can Participate in International Experience Canada Programs?

Suppose you have all the qualifications discussed in the three programs above. In that case, they will not be honored if you’re not using any of Canada’s Recognized Organizations (RO) or if your country of citizenship does not have an agreement with Canada. In addition, only IEC participants are eligible to join and apply for an IEC work permit.

International Experience Canada Participating Countries

Currently, there are 34 confirmed participating countries in IEC. However, Canada has unique relationships with each participating country. This means the eligibility, validity, type of visa, and programs vary depending on Canada’s agreement with a specific nation.

Below is the complete list of countries, as well as their IEC specifics.

Canadians Smiling in Canada
Currently, there are 34 confirmed participating countries in IEC.

Country or Territory

Type of IEC

Type of Visa

Age Limit

Maximum Validity

Andorra

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Australia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

24 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

Austria

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

6 months

Belgium

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Chile

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Costa Rica

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Croatia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Czech Republic

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Denmark

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Estonia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

France

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

24 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Germany

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Greece

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Hong Kong

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Ireland

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

24 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Italy

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

6 months

Japan

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Latvia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Lithuania

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Luxembourg

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Netherlands

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-30

12 months

New Zealand

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

23 months

Norway

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Poland

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Portugal

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

24 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

24 months

San Marino

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Slovakia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Slovenia

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

South Korea

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

12 months

Spain

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Sweden

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

Switzerland

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

18 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

18 months

Taiwan

Working Holiday

Open

18-35

12 months

Young Professionals

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

International Co-op

Employer-specific

18-35

12 months

United Kingdom

Working Holiday

Open

18-30

24 months

The agreements Canada has with these countries are reciprocal bilateral. These nations offer the same privilege to Canadian citizens.

Recognized Organizations (ROs)

Using ROs is the only option for IEC applicants whose country of citizenship is not included in the participating list of countries above. Some of the individuals who belong to the participating countries consider using ROs for other IEC-related services.

Below are some of Canada’s Recognized Organizations and their basic information.

How to Apply for International Experience Canada?

Here are 4 simple steps on how to get an IEC work permit.

What is your main reason for applying for an IEC work permit? Is it to fulfill university internship requirements, travel and explore Canada, or gain professional experience? From here, you will find out what type of program and work permit fits you. See Three (3) Types of IEC Programs.

Does your country of citizenship belong to the list of International Experience Canada Participating Countries? Are you going to utilize ROs? Equip yourself with the correct information and gather all the requirements needed. You may choose to consult with experts to facilitate your IEC application.

Average Salary: $28,889 (per year)

Requirements: A minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate.

IEC conducts random draws in selecting applicants. You will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) once you get selected. You only have 10 days to accept the invitation and 20 days to submit an online application for a work permit. If you don’t get selected, your application will be returned to the pool for future draws.

Which is Better? IEC Programs or Permanent Residency Programs

Choosing which visa suits you is based on individuals’ preferences and objectives. For example, some may aim directly for PR while others may only need a temporary visa; perhaps some may want to try Canada out first before applying for PR.

Below is a quick comparative overview of IEC programs and PR programs.

View of Mountains in Canada
If you wish to work in Canada you'll need to know which pathway is best for you! Will it be IEC or PC Programs?

It’s better to thoroughly do your research in deciding which visa and program are right for you. You may seek help from a family or friend. Or you may reach out to immigration agencies or organizations like Canada CIS to help answer any questions you may have.

Learn more about immigration to Canada: