The 2020 IEC season will be open as of Monday, December 9 2019.
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IEC Canada work permits provide young people from around the world with the opportunity to travel and work in Canada. They include the popular Working Holiday work permits, sometimes referred to as a Working Holiday Visa in Canada.
There are over 30 countries participating in the International Experience Canada program. With the 2020 season here as of December 9, 2019, find out what you need to be as prepared as possible.
To begin with, here are some other useful resources:
- Where to buy travel insurance for Canada (note: this is mandatory to get an IEC Canada work permit)
- How to ‘Canadianize’ your resume (or ‘CV’)
- Case-specific help in our IEC Facebook group
If you are on an IEC work permit and want to remain in Canada, learn how and when you may be able to benefit from implied status.
What does this mean?
What does IEC, IRCC, and CIC stand for?
- IEC: International Experience Canada. It’s the name of the program through which several categories of IEC Canada work permits are offered to young people from over 30 countries, including the popular Working Holiday visa in Canada.
- IRCC: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. They are the government department responsible for managing the IEC Canada program.
- CIC: Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This is the old name for IRCC, though many people still use the ‘CIC’ acronym. You may see CIC and IRCC used interchangeably to describe the same thing.
What is a ‘pool’?
A ‘pool’ is the name given to the different country and category types that are on offer. There are currently three categories of IEC Canada work permit – the popular IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada, the IEC Young Professional work permit, and the IEC International Co-Op work permit.
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 pools as you are eligible for, though many candidates will likely only choose one.
What is an ‘invitation to apply’, or ‘ITA’?
A selection of candidates will be selected from the pools, and invited at random, and at various intervals, to complete their application for an IEC Canada work permit. These will occur in what are known as ‘draws’, or ’rounds of invitations’.
When you receive notification of this via your account on the IRCC website, it is known as an ‘invitation to apply’, sometimes abbreviated to ‘ITA’.
IEC Canada: The Basics
When does each IEC season begin and end?
Pools for the 2020 IEC program will open for many countries as of Monday, December 9, 2019. This means from this date on you’ll be able to create your profile, and begin your IEC journey.
The exact start and end dates are at the discretion of IRCC and will vary from year to year. As a guide, here are the opening and closing dates for each year, since the IEC Canada moved to its current pool-based format.
|Year||First pools open||First round of invitations||Final round of invitations|
|2016||November 30, 2015||December 16, 2015||September 30, 2016|
|2017||October 17, 2016||November 28, 2016||September 29, 2017|
|2018||November 3, 2017||November 20, 2017||October 1, 2018|
|2019||Dec 4, 2018||December 27, 2018||October 4, 2019|
|2020||Dec 9, 2019||TBD||TBD|
Dates in the table above are the earliest applicable date for each column, and can vary from country to country.
When can I apply for an IEC Canada work permit?
When is the best time to apply for an IEC Canada work permit?
You will need to receive your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction in order to enter Canada and receive your work permit. Usually, this document is valid for 12 months.
Bear in mind that it can take some months to receive an invitation to apply, complete your application, and have this application assessed.
Let’s take the example of Karen, who wants to arrive in Canada in early 2021. Here are some of her options:
1. She could apply for a 2020 IEC Canada permit as most pools will have opened by Monday, December 9, 2020. If she’s lucky enough to receive an invite, she may have her POE letter before the end of the year. This letter would be valid for 12 months, allowing her to arrive in Canada at any time within that 12-month period.
2. Apply for a 2021 permit, soon after the pools open, likely in November or December 2020. If she receives an invite in the months that follow, her application may be processed, and her POE letter sent. As the letter is still valid for 12 months, she can then arrive in early 2021.
As there is no definite time frame for if, and when, you will receive your POE letter, it’s not possible to offer complete guidance. The best advice is to plan early, and remember that the POE letter is valid for 12 months, so you will have plenty of time to use it, if and when you receive it.
How many work permits are released in each draw? How frequently do they take place?
Both are million-dollar questions! IRCC say this ‘varies’ from draw to draw, and won’t commit to an exact figure, or an exact timeframe.
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 system used currently by IEC Canada allows for people to become a candidate at any stage before work permits 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. In countries like the UK, where demand far exceeds supply, it is crucial to create a profile early in the IEC season.
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.
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.
How long will it take to process my IEC Canada work permit application?
Once you enter the pool of candidates, you could be in the pool for several weeks or months before you receive an ITA. There is no guarantee that you will receive one.
After your ITA is received, and you’ve completed your work permit application and paid relevant fees, IRCC has committed to a service standard of eight weeks to process applications.
Delays can occur if your application is incomplete, or you don’t provided additional documentation that is requested.
How long can I get my IEC Canada work permit for? Can I go for one year or two years?
Find the answer for your country and category on our International Experience Canada country list.
Do I need to have work lined up before I go?
If you’re applying for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, these work permits are ‘open’, meaning you can find work with any eligible employer, and can arrange this employment after you arrive if you wish.
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.
Take a look at our Immigration section for other options.
Can I apply even if I'm not from one of the listed participating IEC countries?
This may be possible through an IEC Recognized Organization.
Can my child(ren) come with me to Canada when I have an IEC work permit
Generally, minor children need to apply for a study permit from outside Canada, if they want to go to study in Canada. However, a minor child can go to school without a study permit if at least one parent (biological or adoptive) is permitted to work in Canada. IEC participants are one such group permitted to work in Canada.