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If you plan on moving to Canada through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which includes the popular Working Holiday category, you may be wondering when you should get the ball rolling — especially if you don’t plan on moving within the next few months.

The 2024 IEC season is open as of December 11, 2023.

IRCC is currently conducting rounds of invitations from the IEC candidate pool each week. You can learn more about the weekly draws in our IEC news hub.

Check if you're eligible for the 2024 IEC program by taking our free Canadian Immigration Quiz

Now, in order to determine the best timing for your process, first it’s important to know the age limit for your country of citizenship:

  • 18-35: Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kinkdom
  • 18-30: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden

If you’re within the age range, it’s now time to figure out what to do next.

Watch our latest webinar where we covered key questions to help you prepare for IEC 2024!

Scenario 1: You’re within one year of the age limit

(For example, if you are Australian and 34 or 35 years old, or Belgian and 29 or 30 years old. See above for the exact age range for your country).

You don’t have much time to waste. The IEC pools are generally open from December to September, with downtime around October and November (during which time it is not possible to create a profile and begin the process). So, for most of the year Canada is welcoming new IEC candidates.

Once you’re approved you’ll have 12 months to land in Canada and your age will be “locked in”, meaning an Australian approved at age 35 may actually land in Canada after her 36th birthday, or a Belgian person approved at age 30 may land after his 31st birthday. Again, see above for the age range for your country.

If you’re within one year of the age limit but don’t plan on moving to Canada within the next 14 months or so, you’ll have to either alter your plan in order to bring forward your move slightly, or figure out another way to move to Canada (see a guide on alternatives here). Don’t bank on Canada changing the age range for your country in the future — such changes are extremely rare.

Ready? Let’s get going!

Scenario 2: You plan on moving to Canada within the next 14 months

If you fall within the range for your country and the IEC pools are open — as they are generally from December through to September, so for most of the year — it’s a good idea to create your IEC profile as soon as possible. This way, the Government of Canada will know you want to move and you’re effectively putting your hand up to be invited when the Government conducts its weekly “draws” or “invitation rounds” (the same thing). The sooner you create your profile, the more draws you’ll open yourself up to, thereby increasing your chances of being invited to apply for a work permit.

When you are invited, you’ll have up to 10 days to accept, then 20 more days to submit your full application, then the Government will take a few weeks (typically around six weeks) to process everything and — hopefully — approve your big move. Once approved, you’ll have 12 months to land in Canada and begin living and working here.

So, if you plan on moving within the next 14 months, it’s time to create your profile.

Ready? Let’s get going!

Scenario 3: You plan on moving to Canada 15 or more months in the future

(For example, if you are Australian and 33 years old or younger, or Belgian and 28 years old or younger, and you plan on moving to Canada 15 or more months in the future. See above for the exact age range for your country).

If you were to begin the process soon (i.e. during the current year) and are invited and then approved, you’d have to actually move within a year. If you were to let the approval letter lapse (i.e. not land in Canada within a year of approval), this would still count as participation in the IEC program. You’d have used up your chance, even without moving!

For these reasons, some early planners wait a while before creating their IEC profile. In essence, you want to be approved for an IEC work permit within 12 months of your intended arrival date. It takes an additional two months or so of processing time before this year-long validity period kicks in. Some extensions to the approval letter (known as a Port of Entry Letter of Introduction) validity period have been granted during the coronavirus pandemic, but these are assessed on a case-by-case basis and only because of the extraordinary circumstances. There’s no expectation that Canada may approve extensions after the pandemic and its associated restrictions on international travel.

If you decide to wait a while before creating your IEC profile, please note the following caveats:

  • While it is likely that people from your country will still be eligible in the future, it’s not completely guaranteed. In recent years, Canada has placed its IEC agreements with Mexico and Ukraine “under review” for years on end. These multi-year pauses probably aren’t random and are perhaps because of security concerns of allowing Canadian youth to move to those countries. IEC is a reciprocal program; if you can move to Canada through IEC, it also means Canadians can move to your country.
  • Even if you are eligible in the future, there is no guarantee that you will be invited to apply. Countries’ quotas can change each year, and for some countries demand often outpaces supply, leaving some candidates without an invitation. The exception here is Australia, which has an unlimited quota.

The next step: Your Moving2Canada Account

Now that you have an idea of when to begin the IEC process, make sure to sign up for a free Moving2Canada account. Your account gives you access to tons of resources, including checklists with step-by-step instructions for your immigration process, job openings from Canadian employers looking to hire IEC participants, and much more!

Once you sign up for free, we’ll show you exactly where and how to create your IEC profile, plus a bunch of other important tasks to help you along the way.

Sign up for a free account here.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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