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. Candidates can now create a profile for the 2018 program.
If you’re looking for something specific in this FAQ guide, use the Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) keys to search for your query on this page. To begin with, here are some other useful resources:
- Construction and engineering jobs through our Outpost Recruitment agency
- 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 2018: The Basics
When does each IEC season begin and end?
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||TBA||TBA|
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?
Countries and categories (Working Holiday Visa in Canada, IEC Young Professionals and International Co-Op) opened for the 2018 program from November 3, 2017. Work permits are then gradually issued in the months that follow.
In some countries where demand far exceeds supply, the program may close in the spring or summer as no more work permits will be available. Where supply outstrips demand, the pools likely stay open until the program formally closes for the year. The 2017 IEC Canada program closed in late September 2017.
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 July 2019. Here are some of her options:
1. She could apply for a 2018 IEC Canada permit, before the pools close (likely in September 2018). For example, she could apply in May 2018, and 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 July 2019.
2. Apply for a 2019 permit, soon after the pools open, likely in October or November 2018. If she receives an invite in the months that follow, her application may be processed, and her POE letter sent, before July. As the letter is still valid for 12 months, she can then arrive in July 2019.
As there is no definite timeframe 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.
Are there still 2018 IEC Canada work permits available?
Each week, we publish an update which tells you how many invitations to apply have been sent so far, and how many spots are still available this year. Visit our Working Holiday Canada news hub for the latest update.
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.