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Immigration and Citizenship

International Experience Canada (Working Holidays Visa)

Table of Contents
1 What is International Experience Canada (IEC)

What is International Experience Canada (IEC)

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program designed to allow youth the opportunity to work in Canada for temporary periods, e.g. with Canada Working Holidays visa. Citizens of countries with a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Canada who are between 18 and 35 years old may be eligible for IEC work permits.
Canada has agreements with over 30 countries and territories (including UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Netherlands) that make it easier for you to get a work permit or visa under International Experience Canada (IEC).

The International Experience Canada (IEC) application process involves various steps. The graphic “International Experience Canada Online Application Process” is an overview of the steps you need to take to apply for IEC.

Application process (PDF, 2 MB)

International Experience Canada - online application process described below

IEC Eligibility Requirements

To participate:

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  • your country of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada that allows you to apply for an IEC work permit, or
  • you may be able to use a Recognized Organization.

Eligibility requirements for some countries and categories have changed. Make sure you understand each category and that you are eligible before you apply.

Depending on where you are from, you can choose from up to three travel and work experience plans for your visa:

1.Working Holiday

Fund your vacation with temporary work in Canada.

This category is for you if:

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  • You don’t have a job offer yet
  • You want to work for more than one employer in Canada
  • You want to work in more than one location
  • You’d like to earn some money so that you can travel

The type of work permit you get for Working Holiday is an open work permit.

An open work permit lets you work at most jobs in Canada. However, there are some jobs where you’ll have to get a medical exam first.

2. Young Professionals

Gain Canadian professional work experience to better compete in a global economy.

This category is for you if:

  • You have a job offer in Canada that contributes to your professional development
  • You’ll work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada

Under this category, work must be:

  • paid
  • not self-employed

The type of work permit you get in the Young Professionals category is an employer-specific work permit.

Your employer must meet all labour laws in the province or territory you plan to work including meeting minimum wage requirements.

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The job you are offered in Canada must be classified as a National Occupational Classification (NOC) Code Skill Type Level 0, A or B to be considered as contributing to your “professional development.” A NOC C job might be accepted if you can submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree, with your work permit application. Your diploma, certificate or degree must be translated to English or French.

3. International Co-op Internship

Get valuable overseas work experience related to your field of study.

This category is for you if:

  • you’re a student registered at a post-secondary institution
  • you have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada
  • you need to do this work placement or internship to complete your studies
  • you’ll work for the same employer in the same location during your stay in Canada

The type of work permit you get in the International Co-op (Internship) category is an employer-specific work permit. The internship you are offered in Canada must be directly linked to your field of studies.

Wages must follow the labour laws in the province or territory you will be working in. The labour code of the province or territory will determine if an internship needs to be paid or not.

Employment and labour law standards apply to all foreign nationals in Canada. It is up to the IEC candidates and their Canadian employer to inquire, for their particular case, with the relevant provincial or territorial departments regarding labour standards.

How to become a IEC candidate

If you want to travel and work temporarily in Canada as part of International Experience Canada (IEC), your first step is to become a candidate in one or more IEC pools.

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 You should become a candidate as soon as possible, if you want to start working in Canada in the next 12 months.

This is a process where you:

  • find out if you’re eligible by answering some questions, and if so,
  • create a free online IEC profile.

The answers you give us will be used to determine if you’re eligible for a pool in one or more IEC categories:

  • International Co-op (Internship)
  • Working Holiday
  • Young Professionals

There is one pool of eligible candidates per country and per category.

You can submit your profile to one or more of these pools. Candidates in the pools need to receive an invitation to apply for a work permit.

Tip: You may want to open this page in a different browser, tab or window while you complete your profile. You can then refer back to this information as needed.

Step 1: Answer a few questions

Use our questionnaire to see if you meet the criteria to get into the IEC pools. It will take you about 10 minutes. It will ask you about your:

  • country of citizenship
  • country of permanent residence (where you live permanently)
  • country of residence (where you live now)
  • student status (if this applies to you)
  • job offer (if this applies to you)

Note: Your country of permanent residence is the country where you have a permanent address. For example, if you’re a Mexican student in Canada, your country of permanent residence is Mexico.

To answer the questionnaire, you have two options:

If you’re not sure if you’re eligible or you don’t already have an account, find out if you’re eligible without signing in.

Step 2: Complete your online IEC profile

If you get a positive result, you can complete and submit your IEC profile online.

If you checked your eligibility without signing in, follow these steps:

  1. Copy or write down the personal reference code we give you at the end of the questionnaire (It looks like this: JM1234567890).
  2. Create your account.
  3. Enter your personal reference code when asked.

If you signed in to your account to check your eligibility, click “Continue.” You won’t get a personal reference code. You don’t need one.

We’ll use your answers from the questionnaire to start your profile. To complete your profile, you’ll need your passport.You’ll also need to tell us about your:

  • identity (full names, date of birth, place of birth etc.)
  • contact information

Filling in the online forms

  • Leave out any commas that separate your first or last names (if you have more than one first or last name). For example, use “Julie Louise Marie” if your first name is “Julie, Louise, Marie”.
  • Use English and French letters only.
  • If your passport uses other special letters or characters, use the letter without the accent. For example, use “z” instead of “ź.”

Lower case letters you can use
Upper case letters you can use

If you want to complete your profile later

You may exit the profile at any time. Your information will be saved.

If you do not complete the IEC profile in 60 days, you won’t be able to submit it and will have to start again.

Step 3: Submit your profile

When you complete your profile, we’ll tell you which pools are available to you. You can submit your profile to any of these available pools.

Before you submit your profile, make you sure you understand which category is right for you.

Important: Submitting an IEC profile does not mean you have applied for a work permit. You need an invitation to apply to start a work permit application.

If you’re invited to apply, you’ll use your account to:

  • submit your work permit application
  • pay your fees
  • check the status of your application

This is the only way to apply for an IEC work permit.

How to get IEC invitation to apply

What is IEC Invitation to apply?

If you’re invited to apply, you’ll get a message in your account. The message will list your category and your next steps.

You’ll have 10 days to decide if you’ll accept the invitation. The deadline will be in your invitation. From the day you accept the invitation, you’ll have 20 days to apply online for a work permit.

To accept the invitation:

  1. go to the section called “Continue my profile / application, not yet submitted” in your account,
  2. find the application called “Work permit”, and
  3. click “Start application”.

If you do not respond by the deadline shown in the invitation, the invitation will expire. If it expires, you’ll have to submit a new IEC profile and be accepted to the pool again before you can be considered for future invitations.

Once you accept your invitation, you need to apply for a work permit. You’ll have to show proof of the information you gave us in your International Experience Canada (IEC) profile. You’ll also have to provide more information about your background and the type of work you intend to do in Canada.

Declining an invitation to apply

If you decline an invitation, you’ll stay in the IEC pool of candidates (as long as you are still eligible) to be considered in future rounds of invitations.

If you choose to decline an invitation, it will not have a negative effect on future invitations.

To decline the invitation:

  1. go to the section called “Continue my profile / application, not yet submitted” in your account,
  2. find the application called “Work permit”, and
  3. click “Decline application”.

If you do not respond to an invitation, the invitation will expire by the deadline shown in the invitation. If it expires, you’ll have to submit a new IEC profile and be accepted into the pool again before you can be considered for future invitations.

Applicants in multiple pools

If you’re in more than one pool and you receive an Invitation to Apply for one category, you cannot be selected from another pool until:

  • you decline the Invitation to Apply, or
  • you’ve submitted your work permit application and we’ve refused your application.

If you decline the invitation or we refuse your work permit application, your profile will become active again and you may receive another Invitation to Apply.

Documents to support your application for a work permit

If you’re accepted into an IEC pool, you should consider getting your supporting documents ready as some of them may take some time to prepare (for example: police certificate(s)). We’ll regularly issue invitations to apply to candidates in the pool. If you accept an Invitation to Apply, you’ll only have 20 days to complete and submit your application for a work permit and submit all supporting documents. If these documents are ready in advance, it will be easier to apply within the 20 days.

If you’re not invited to apply

You can stay in an IEC pool:

  • until we remove all profiles from the pools at the end of the season, or
  • you’re no longer eligible for IEC.

Some categories will run out of spots before the season closes. If that happens, we’ll stop accepting profiles for that pool. If your profile is in a pool for another category, you may still get an invitation to apply for that category. If you want to submit a profile to a different pool, withdraw your current profile and submit a new one.

When we close the pools, you’ll be notified through your account that the pools have closed.

At the end of each season, the pools will be closed for at least two weeks while we prepare for the next season.

If you’re still interested in coming to Canada to travel and work as part of IEC, you’ll need to complete and submit a new profile when the next season opens. Once you start, you’ll have 60 days to complete the profile. If you still meet the minimum entry criteria, you’ll get a new IEC profile number. If you do not submit a new profile within the 60 days, you’ll have to start over.

How to apply for IEC

You cannot apply for a work permit under International Experience Canada unless we’ve sent you an Invitation to Apply.

If you’ve accepted an Invitation to Apply for a work permit follow these steps:

You need to give your biometrics

In most cases, you now need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) after you apply. Find out where biometrics fits in the application process.

Complete the online form

You can save the information in the online form and go back to it as often as you need to until you are ready to submit it.

Once you accept your invitation to apply, you will have 20 days to submit your work permit application. You’ll receive a message in your account with the time and date of your deadline.

Make sure you:

  • answer all questions truthfully and completely. If we find that you gave us false information or left out important details, we’ll refuse your application and you may also be ineligible for entry to Canada in the future
  • fill out all the mandatory fields in the form. You can’t submit your application until these fields are completed
  • don’t leave any gaps in time in the work history and education history sections
    • include all absences, periods of unemployment, travel dates, etc.
  • include all paid and unpaid work in the work history section
  • click “validate” at the end of each form so there are no errors or blank fields in your application

Note: If you’re applying for a Working Holiday work permit and you’re asked for information about your offer of employment,

  • type “A9999999” in the offer of employment number field
  • select “No” to the question “Has your employer paid the Employer Compliance fee?” and
  • type “Non-applicable – Working Holiday” into the employer address fields

If you’re having a technical problem with your application, we have some advice for you.

When you have completed the application, the system will generate a personalized document checklist for you. It will show all the supporting documents you need to upload.

Get all the documents you need

Using your personalized Document Checklist, gather all your documents.

You must be able to make electronic copies of your supporting documents using a scanner or camera.

Once you have your documents ready, upload them on the Document Checklist page in your account.

Documents you may need

Proof of financial support

Bring proof of financial support with you, as Border Services Officers may ask you for proof of funds when you arrive in Canada.

Medical exams

Before you submit your work permit application, you should get a medical exam if:

  • you’ve recently lived or travelled in certain countries or territories for 6 months or more, or
  • you plan to work in:
    • the health field
    • primary or secondary education,
    • child care, or
    • elderly care

You must see a doctor that has been approved by IRCC (called a panel physician).

After the panel physician completes the medical exam:

  1. You’ll get an information printout sheet or an IMM 1017B Upfront Medical Report form
  2. Upload a copy of this document to your document checklist in the “Proof of medical exam” section. If you don’t see this section, upload the document in the “Optional documents” slot at the bottom of the checklist

If you don’t complete this step, we may refuse your application or your work permit will have medical restrictions on it, which means you won’t be allowed to work in a job that requires a medical exam.

If you can’t complete a medical exam before the deadline to submit your work permit application, you can submit proof that you’ve made an appointment to get one.

Your medical exam results are valid for 12 months. To make sure they don’t expire, you should wait until you’re invited to apply before getting a medical exam.

Learn more about medical exam requirements.

Police certificates

In most cases, you’ll need to get police certificates.

You’ll need to provide certificates for countries where you have spent time for six or more consecutive months since the age of 18.

You may need to provide certificates from more than one country. There will only be one upload field so be sure to include them as scanned copies all together.

If you’re not able to get a police certificate before the deadline to submit your application, you may upload:

  • a copy of the receipt proving you have requested one, or
  • a screenshot of the confirmation page or email you received when ordered your police certificate online.

You must have the police certificate ready to submit when an officer later requests it. You must provide the certificate by the deadline shown in the request letter, or your application will be refused.

If you have a criminal record, you may not be allowed to enter Canada. People who pose a risk to Canada’s security are also not allowed to come to Canada. Learn more about inadmissibility.

Read the special notes and considerations for the countries below:

CV/résumé

You’ll need to provide a copy of your CV or résumé. A curriculum vitae or résumé is a brief description of your:

  • education,
  • qualifications, and
  • work experience (main duties for each job).

It should also include your current job title and the city and country where you currently live.

Passport

You must provide a clear, readable copy of your passport. Your passport must be valid

  • when you apply to the International Experience Canada program, and
  • when you enter and depart from Canada.

Your work permit will not be issued for longer than the validity of your passport. Your passport must include a blank page other than the last page.

Digital photo

You must provide a digital photo of yourself.

Frame size
Passport dimensions
  • The final frame size of the photo must be at least 35mm x 45mm.
  • The photographs must show a full front view of the head and tops of shoulders, with the face in the middle of the photograph.
  • The size of the head, from chin to crown, must be between 31mm and 36mm.
  • Digital dimensions are often expressed in pixels or DPI (dots per inch). The physical dimensions in pixels must be at least 420 x 540.
Quality/resolution

If you scan a photo you already have, the minimum resolution must be 600 pixels per inch.

File format
  • The file may be submitted in JPEG or JPEG2000 format.
  • The final size of the image should ideally be 240 kB (kilobytes), but not less than 60 kB.
  • The image must be in colour (24 bits per pixel) in RGB colour space, which is the common output for most digital cameras.
Family information

Depending on your country of citizenship, you must complete one of the Family Information forms:

These forms request information about your

  • spouse or common-law partner,
  • parents,
  • children, step children and adopted children, and
  • your brothers and sisters, including step-siblings and half-siblings (IMM 5645 only).

Electronic Travel Authorization or Visitor visa application

Depending on your country of citizenship, you’ll need either an eTA or visitor visa. You don’t have to apply for these documents.

If you need an eTA, you’ll automatically receive one when your work permit application is approved. If you need a visitor visa, you’ll get a request letter asking you to send us your passport.

International Co-op (Internship) applicants

Proof of school registration

You must provide a letter from your educational institution that shows that you’re currently registered at that institution.

Proof your job is linked to your field of studies

Submit one of the following documents:

Internship agreement – this is a three-party agreement signed by you, your employer and your training centre. The agreement must have the following information:

  • the position title,
  • the description of the tasks performed by the student,
  • the exact start and end dates of the internship,
  • the complete address of the internship site, and
  • the employer’s contact information.

Or

A letter from your education institution, on official letterhead, that confirms your job offer is linked to your field of studies.

Applicants using Recognized Organizations

Recognized Organization acceptance letter

If you choose to use the services of a Recognized Organization (RO) and you receive an Invitation to Apply, you may need to provide a copy of the confirmation letter from your RO when you submit your work permit application. This letter acts as proof that an RO is helping you plan your trip or find work in Canada.

Ask your RO if this applies to you.

VIE applicants

VIE letter

If you are participating in France’s VIE program, you must provide an official certificate from Business France, the French organization responsible for managing the program. The certificate must identify the participant and the employer.

Pay your fees

The fees you pay depend on the IEC category you’re applying to.

You can use the pay your fees tool to find out how much it costs to apply to IEC and how to pay your fees.

a) All participants

You must pay the IEC participation fee. For the 2019 season, the participation fee is CAN$150.

If you need to give biometrics, you’ll need to pay the biometric fee when you pay your IEC participation fee.

b) Working Holiday participants

You must also pay an open work permit holder fee of CAN$100.

c) Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship) participants

You don’t have to pay any additional fees, but your employer must pay a CAN$230 employer compliance fee and submit your offer of employment to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Your employer must complete this step before you submit your work permit application.

Refunds

The IEC participation fee, open work permit holder fee and employer compliance fee are refundable if:

  • you withdraw your work permit application before we issue your letter of introduction
  • your employer withdraws their offer of employment before your work permit is issued, or
  • your work permit application is refused

How refunds are processed

You don’t have to do anything else to get your refund. Normally, you’ll receive it within eight weeks. Your refund will be issued to the credit card used to pay the fees.

Keep your prepaid credit card for at least 18 months after you pay in case you need a refund.

If we can’t refund your payment to your credit card, we will issue a cheque.

You will not receive a refund if we learn that you misrepresented yourself (gave false information or left out important details).

Submit your complete application

Make sure you’ve:

  • filled out all mandatory form fields,
  • paid your fees, and
  • included readable colour scans of all the supporting documents.

The system will not let you submit the application unless all required documents are included. Use the Document Checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. If you can’t get a police certificate or medical exam before the deadline to submit your work application, you can submit proof that you have:

  • requested a police certificate, or
  • made an appointment for a medical exam.

This will not affect the decision an officer will make when processing your application, but your application may take longer than the advertised processing service level agreements to process.

Once you submit your application, we’ll verify that:

  • all the information you gave us is true,
  • you are eligible to work in Canada and
  • you are admissible to Canada.

If you’re eligible, we’ll send you a message in your account and tell you what to do next.

You need to give your biometrics

In most cases, you now need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) after you apply. Find out where biometrics fits in the application process.

If you already gave biometrics, they may still be valid.

You can check if your biometrics are still valid and when they expire by using the Check Status Tool.

If you need to give your biometrics, we’ll send you an instruction letter to explain how. After you pay all your fees and submit your application you’ll get the letter in your account message box within 24 hours. You’ll have up to 30 days to give your biometrics.

You must bring your instruction letter with you to one of the official collection service locations.

If you’re outside Canada

You can go to the location closest to you. It doesn’t have to be in your country of residence.

Collection service locations include:

  • Visa Application Centres (VAC) around the world
  • Application Support Centres (ASC) in the United States – if you’re already legally in the U.S.
  • temporary collection locations in Europe

Find a collection point close to you.

If you’re already in Canada

If you’re in Canada and you apply for an initial work permit, and you received a biometrics instruction letter from us, you may need to leave Canada to give biometrics.

Don’t travel to the U.S. if you’re only going to give biometrics. The U.S. border officials may not let you enter the country. You can only give biometrics at an Application Support Center in the U.S. if you’re already legally in the U.S.

Instead, go to a visa application centre (VAC) in any country that you can legally enter, such as your home country.

After you apply

Processing your application

We’ll check your application to make sure you have all the necessary documents. If it’s complete and you need to give biometrics, we’ll send you a letter that tells you so.

If it’s incomplete, we’ll return your application without processing it.

We may also ask you to:

  • go to an interview with our officials in your country, or
  • to send more information.

If you don’t need to give biometrics, we can begin reviewing your application once you submit your work permit application (including all required documents).

Processing time 

Processing time is the average for how long it takes from when an application is received to when we make a decision. Learn more about processing times.

If you submitted proof of an appointment for your medical examination or a receipt for your police certificate request, you must provide copies of these documents when we ask for them.

We’ll also check that:

  • you qualify for a work permit,
  • you’ve provided all the required documents, and
  • the employer is allowed to hire you (specific to Young Professionals and International Co-op applicants).

It can take up to 8 weeks for your work permit application to be reviewed.

Wait until your application is approved before you

  • buy a plane ticket for any travel to Canada
  • buy health insurance for your stay in Canada
  • make commitments to your prospective employer in Canada
  • commit to any accommodation in Canada
  • cancel your accommodation or leave your job or studies in your home country

If your application is approved

If your application is approved, you’ll receive a port of entry (POE) letter in your account. The letter does not guarantee entry into Canada or guarantee a work permit.

To get your IEC work permit you must:

  • Bring your POE letter with you to Canada and show it to a border services officer at the port of entry (airport, land border, etc.)
  • Show your letter at a Canadian port of entry on or before the expiry date (the expiry date will be clearly marked on your letter)

Note: The expiry date of the POE letter cannot be changed or extended under any circumstance. You cannot transfer your letter to any other person or name. If the expiry date on your POE letter has passed and you haven’t come to Canada, this will count as an IEC participation. If you’re eligible for another participation, you must create a new profile.

If your application is refused

You‘ll receive a letter of explanation in your account.

How to withdraw your application

You can withdraw your application and receive a refund if we haven’t issued you your POE letter.

To withdraw your application,

  1. contact us using the Web form; and
  2. in the “your enquiry” box, include “IEC work permit application withdrawal – your application ID number” (e.g., “IEC work permit application withdrawal – W123456789”).

We’ll review your request within three to five business days. If it’s approved, you’ll be refunded your

  • IEC participation fee, and
  • open work permit fee (Working Holiday applicants only).

If your employer paid the employer compliance fee of CAN$230, they’ll also receive a refund.

You don’t have to do anything else to get your refund. Normally, you’ll receive it within eight weeks. Your refund will be issued to the credit card used to pay the fees.

Keep your prepaid credit card for at least 18 months after you pay in case you need a refund.

If we can’t refund your payment to your credit card, we will issue a cheque.

You will not receive a refund if we learn that you misrepresented yourself (gave false information or left out important details).

If you’ve already received your POE letter

You can’t get a refund or withdraw your application.

Exception

The only exception is for Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship) participants whose employer withdraws the offer of employment before they travel to Canada. If your employer withdraws your offer of employment, we’ll refuse your application.

We’ll refund you your IEC participation fee. Your employer will also be refunded the employer compliance fee. You don’t have to do anything else to get your refund.

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