IEC Canada Visa

IEC Canada Visa FAQ – 2017

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The IEC Canada visa is by far the easiest way to travel and work in Canada.

Demand in some countries, like the UK and Germany, outstripped supply in 2016. No matter where you’re applying from, it’s important that you’re prepared to avoid disappointment.

The 2017 IEC Canada Visa process opened on October 17, 2016. Ensure you read our main Working Holiday Visa in Canada guide to learn more about how to apply.

If you’re looking for something specific, use the Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) keys to search for your query on this page.

Tips and jobs

Before we begin, we’d like to draw your attention to these resources. If you’re looking to make the most of your IEC Canada visa, it’s essential that you review these pages:

For answers to some of the frequently asked questions for IEC Canada visas, see below.

Disclaimer: We recommend contacting IRCC directly for assistance. Please take appropriate action to verify anything you’re unsure of before relying solely on the information provided here.

The guidelines for the IEC Canada visa can vary between countries, so please double-check with the official guidelines for your country. This FAQ article is designed to complement the existing FAQ documents available through the IEC website.

IEC Canada Visa: The Basics


What does IEC, CIC, and IRCC stand for?

IEC stands for International Experience Canada. It’s the initiative through which a number of visas for young people are offered, such as the Working Holiday Visa.

CIC stands for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the government department responsible for these visas. It was re-branded under the recently-elected government as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, however the CIC name is still used in practice. You may see CIC and IRCC used interchangeably to describe the same thing.

When can I apply for an IEC Canada visa?

All countries and programs (Working Holiday, Young Professionals and Internship) opened for the 2017 program on October 17, 2016. They will be gradually filled in the months to follow. In some countries where demand is high, the program will likely close in the spring or summer. Where supply outstrips demand, the pools will likely stay open until the close of the 2017 program, expected in September or October 2017.

Are there still 2017 visas available?

New figures are released each Wednesday. Click the link below for the latest update.

Immigrate to Canada – Latest IEC 2017 updates.

What is a 'pool'?

A ‘pool’ is the new name given to the different country and category types that are on offer. There are currently three types of IEC Canada visa – the Working Holiday Visa, the Young Professional Visa, and the International Co-Op visa.

So for example, ‘Ireland: International Co-Op’, ‘UK: Working Holiday’, and ‘Germany: International Co-Op’ are all different types of pools.

You can become a candidate in as many as you are eligible for, though most applicants will likely only choose one.

What is an 'invitation to apply', or 'ITA'?

A selection of candidates will be invited at random, and at various intervals, to complete their application for a work permit. These will occur in what are known as ‘draws’, or ’rounds of invitations’.

When you receive notification of this via MyCIC, it is known as an ‘invitation to apply’, sometimes abbreviated to ‘ITA’

How many visas are released in each draw?

The million-dollar question! Immigration authorities say this ‘varies’ from draw to draw, and won’t commit to an exact figure.

How much time will I have to apply?

Under the old first-come, first-serve system, allocations sold out in a matter of days – sometimes, even hours. This system was in use until 2015.

The new IEC Canada visa system allows for people to become a candidate at any stage before visas in their pool run out.

However, it is recommended to become a candidate as soon as you can, so that you can be exposed to as many rounds of invitations as possible.

IRCC has committed to giving at least five days of notice before each country’s and category’s final rounds of invitations, which will mark the closure of that pool for the season.

What can I do to ensure my place?

You can research the requirements and ensure that you have the appropriate documents and information ready at hand. External agencies cannot guarantee you a place and will charge you to fill out the forms.

IEC Canada Visa: The Application

What steps are involved in the application process?

There are four main stages:

1. Determine eligibility

2. Become a candidate, and become placed in a pool(s)

3. Receive an ITA

4. Apply for a work permit

See our working holiday visa in Canada guide here.

At what point do I make a payment?

For working holiday visas, it will be necessary to pay a participation fee of CAD$150, and an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100.

This occurs after you receive your ITA and you’ll be asked to submit this as part of your application for a work permit. Payment is required before your application is assessed.

Note: Payment is made via credit/debit card. There will be a currency conversion fee automatically applied. You will receive a receipt for your records but you do not need to sign anything.

Is there a way to apply for an IEC Canada visa as a couple or a group, rather than waiting to see if you both get your ITA separately?

Each participant must submit their candidate profile based on their own merit. There is no mechanism to apply to the pool as a group.

Under the previous first-come, first-served system, friends and couples intending to travel together would have gotten an immediate indication of their success. However, under the new system in use since 2016, applicants will need to wait for their separate ITAs.

See our news article on this issue here.

Is there any way I can boost my chances of receiving an ITA?

Selection is done randomly, and not on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. All eligible candidates stand an equal chance of being selected in any given draw. Furthermore, previous participation in IEC programs is not a consideration of the random invitations. 

It is recommended that you apply early, so as to become exposed to a greater number of draws, as this may improve your likelihood of receiving an ITA.

Do I really need travel insurance? I heard they never even check.

While many newcomers are not asked by immigration authorities to provide proof of travel insurance, it’s not true to say that nobody gets checked.

You run the risk of not being given a work permit if you don’t buy some – is it worth letting all your effort go to waste over one detail? Furthermore, we encourage you to be responsible as an adult, and not to leave your family to pick up the tab on expensive medical bills if something goes wrong.

The good news, is we’ve compared several options for the IEC Canada visa for you, and you can shop around easily for travel insurance for Canada at this link.

How long do I need travel insurance for?

The rules on this are clear – you need to have travel insurance for the full duration of your visa.

You may be asked when entering Canada to provide evidence of this. If your travel insurance is shorter than the full duration of your visa, you may be issued a work permit to match the expiry date of your travel insurance.

Where this occurs, you will not be able to apply for an extension to your work permit by buying new, longer travel insurance.

See the official guidelines on this in our ‘Can I extend my IEC work permit’ article.

Do I need a police certificate from Canada if I worked and lived there for 11 months last year?

Police certificates for the IEC Canada visa are only requested for certain countries if required in the bilateral agreement and only at stage four of the process – Apply for a Work Permit.

What do I do if my police cert doesn't arrive in time to complete my application?

The official advice from IRCC is:

“If you do not have the supporting documents, you can upload proof that you have applied to undertake a medical exam and that a police certificate request has been sent.”

I need to upload multiple police certs. How can I do this?

You’ll need to merge them into a single PDF so you can upload the multiple documents as a single file. You can do this at a website such as this.

How long will it take to process my work permit application?

CIC have committed to a service standard of eight weeks from the completion of your work permit application, and payment of relevant fees.

Do I need a medical exam?

Applicants from Ireland, the UK, and Australia will not need to provide a medical exam. This is provided you haven’t spent six months living in a country from where a medical exam would be required, in the year before you come to Canada.

See the full official advice for each country on this page.

How long do I have to enter Canada once my application is processed?

After your application is processed, you typically have one year to enter Canada and activate your work permit.

If your application is successful, you will receive a Port of Entry, or POE, letter of introduction. This letter indicates the exact date by which you must enter Canada.

Note: ‘Port of Entry’ is the technical term for an official border crossing, e.g. an airport, ferry port, land border with the United States.

Can the expiry date on my POE letter of introduction be extended?

The POE (Port of Entry) Letter of Introduction is the document you’ll present to an immigration official at a airport, ferry port, or land border in Canada to receive your work permit.

This document will have an expiry date which is clearly marked. The rules are clear: this date cannot be amended or extended for any reason.

Note: ‘Port of Entry’ is the technical term for an official border crossing, e.g. an airport, ferry port, land border with the United States.

My POE letter of introduction is blank! How do I fix this?

 

Try opening it on a desktop browser.

IEC Canada Visa: The forms

What advice do you have for filling out the IMM1295 form?

If you have not applied to immigrate to Canada before you will not have a UCI number.

You will have a UCI number if you have applied before. The UCI number is on your previous immigration documentation, including the item that was stapled into your passport on arrival.

If some of the questions do not apply to you, write “N/A” to show that you have read the form.

  • It will ask you when you wish to arrive in Canada: you may put tomorrow’s date or a date several months in the future. It will not matter — your work permit will start from the date you actually enter Canada.
  • If you do not have enough room to list all the employment history that Immigration Canada are looking for you can add more in the optional documents under Letter of Explanation.
  • It will ask for details of work in Canada. Put “unknown” — you do not need arranged employment for this particular permit but it is a generic form, so it asks.
  • Upon completion, enter the date on the form and click VALIDATE. You do not need to sign this form. You must then save the form to your desktop and upload.

And what about the Family Information form IMM5707?

Family form may be IMM5707 or IMM5645 (this one has siblings). Applicants can use either.

You do not sign it, just date it. When you finally submit (once you have received your CAL) you will fill in a declaration which deems you to have electronically signed the whole application. You do not need to print them, sign them and scan them in again.

For Irish candidates, the police certificate can be obtained from your local police station, not from the vetting department. Citizens of other countries can find more information on this CIC page.

The photo requirements are clearly explained on the website.

The Schedule 1 IMM5257 form is required for those who have answered yes to questions 3-6 on the final page of the IMM1295 form.

You will be asked to digitally sign your application. This “signature” has to match exactly the name you used when filling out the IMM1295 form. There should be no additional fee to pay. You have already paid it when applying to the IEC.

Keep a record of the various numbers you have been given by IEC and IRCC and always back them up in more than one place.

What's a UCI number?

This is your Unique Client ID. If you’ve applied for IEC previously, you’ll have been given one by IRCC.

If you haven’t been issued one previously, you can leave this field blank.

What address should I use for my 'mailing address' and 'residential address' on my IEC application form?

The “residential address” on the IEC application is the address where you are currently residing.

For example, if you are currently in Canada on an IEC Canada visa and are submitting a new application, it is recommended you insert your Canadian residential address on the application form in this field.

 

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IEC Canada Visa: Other questions

How long can I get my visa for? Can I go for one year or two years?

Find the answer for your country and category at this page.

What's an eTA, and do I need one?

eTA stands for Electronic Travel Authorization. Passengers travelling to Canada by air may be required to make an online application for an eTA before they’ll be allowed enter the country.

It costs CA$7 fee and must be completed in advance of your flight. The eTA will last for five years, or until the expiration date of the visitor’s passport if this is sooner.

Foreign workers, including IEC participants, from Canada visa-exempt countries who get their work permit on or after August 1, 2015, will automatically be issued an eTA, along with their permit. If you were issued your IEC Canada Visa before this date, then you’ll need to apply.

Read more on our Canada visa requirements for air passengers article.

When my visa expires, can I apply for another one? Perhaps, in a different category?

Find the answer for your country and category at this page.

In Ireland and the UK, applicants currently receive a two-year IEC Canada visa. However, until recently, those eligible received two separate one-year visas.

One of the effects of this transition is that those who have only availed of one one-year visa, may be eligible for a second visa, with the current duration of two years, therefore giving you three years in Canada.

Can I extend my IEC work permit?

As a general rule, the answer is no.

However, there are some limited circumstances where it is possible to do so. See our ‘Can I extend my IEC work permit’ article for more.

What if my passport expires during my visa?

For participants whose passport expires before their 24 months elapses, they may have received an earlier expiry date on their IEC work permit to match the expiry date on their passport.

Where this occurs, and assuming all other eligibility criteria are met, the visa-holder can submit an application to amend their IEC work permit, up to the maximum permitted duration from the date of entry.

See scenario 2 on our ‘Can I extend my IEC work permit’ article for more.

Can I still apply if my passport is due to expire soon?

Yes, you can apply using old passport. In the meantime, you can gain a new passport before you arrive in Canada and then bring this new passport plus photocopy of old to the border and you will get a full term of work permit.

Are there any programs for people who are older than 35 years?

Participation in IEC programs is for those aged between 18 and 30, or up to 35 for certain countries.

I have an urgent query and need to talk to someone in the CIC. How do I contact them?

Case-specific inquiries can be made at this page.

What were the recent changes to the IEC Canada visa program for Ireland?

Ireland’s allocation has increased substantially over the past number of years, from 5,350 in 2012, to 10,700 since 2014. Successful applicants receive a two-year work permit.

A habitual residency clause previously existed, but was abolished for the 2013 IEC visa programme. Applicants no longer need to meet the 18 months out of 36 residency rule.

My first IEC Canada visa expires soon. There will likely be a gap before I get my second IEC Canada visa accepted. What do I do?

There is a lot of confusion over this issue.

CIC state that you should change your status to visitor, which allows you to stay in Canada on “implied status” but you are not allowed to work. Not changing your status goes against the integrity of the program.

We do not recommend the practice of applying for an extension of your work permit as a means of buying time.

If you make an application for a work extension with no formal grounds for it to be accepted (i.e. no LMIA/PNP/CEC application number), it is frowned upon by authorities.

It is essentially cheating the system and immigration officers will not be impressed. More information is available on this page — Temporary resident visa extension.

My first year IEC Canada visa is due to expire later this year. When do I need to apply for my second IEC Canada visa?

A: Apply immediately to ensure you get a fresh IEC Canada visa. Your new visa can be activated as soon as your first visa expires so this will allow you to transition to year two with no stress.

My passport is scheduled to expire during the period of my IEC Canada visa. What should I do?

You have two options:

  • If you keep your current passport, you will only be issued a work permit valid until the expiry date of your passport.
  • Another option is to apply for the 2017 initiative with a current passport, but enter Canada on a new, renewed passport. When entering Canada, you must notify the border service officer of this change so that a work permit may be issued in accordance with your new passport information. We recommend that you bring a photocopy of previous passport along with your current valid passport for presentation at the port of entry.

See our ‘Can I extend my IEC work permit’ article for more.

My IEC Canada visa expires soon. My employer has applied for a LMIA on my behalf but this could take months. Can I continue working beyond the expiry date?


No.

Implied status will only come into effect for the application of a work permit, not the LMIA. A LMIA is issued by Service Canada, a completely different body from IRCC.

If the LMIA application is accepted and an application for a work permit is made before the IEC expires, then they can apply for a temporary resident visa extension.

If you have LMIA acceptance, it will be approved and you can continue to stay in Canada on the conditions of the new work permit. If there is no LMIA on file, the application will be refused quickly and you will have to change status to remain as a visitor until the LMIA is issued and a new work permit can be applied for.

Do I need travel insurance for a second participation on IEC?

Yes.

You must have travel insurance for Canada for the second year of the IEC. Provincial health cover (e.g. MSP in British Columbia or OHIP in Ontario) is not accepted as it does not cover repatriation costs (i.e. costs incurred to fly you home in event of serious illness or death).

Insurance must cover the full duration of the work permit. Find out where to buy travel insurance for Canada here.

How do I apply for the second year of my IEC Canada visa when I’m already in Canada?

The application for a second working holiday visa in Canada should be completed in the same way as a new applicants. This will be a second participation in the programme, not an extension of the original permit.

The one change is that your mailing address will be your Canadian address. For UK applicants, it is treated as an application from your home country because the applicant is deemed to be “habitually resident” in their home country if they have been living outside of the country for less than 18 months in the past three years.

Do you need to get a police cert from Canada if living in Canada for the past 12 months?

A police certificate from Canada is only required when specifically requested.

A minority of applicants will be asked for one. Some local police stations will issue them, but to guarantee that you obtain the correct certificate from the federal police you should apply to the RCMP. This will require fingerprinting, which you can get done by following this advice.

I have my POE letter and flight booked. What do I need on entering Canada?

  • Travel and repatriation insurance for the entire duration of your work permit.
  • A bank statement (no more than 7 days old) showing proof of funds in the amount of $2,500 Canadian dollars.
  • Up-to-date passport.
  • Your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction letter from the IEC.

For more information:

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