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Canada and Australia have agreed to expand the age range under their reciprocal youth mobility agreement, giving more Australians the opportunity to live and work in Canada under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.

The upper age limit for Australians wishing to participate in the IEC program has been increased to 35 years of age, up from 30. The change will come into effect with the new IEC 2019 season, expected to start in autumn 2018.

Australia is a major source of participants in IEC, with locations in Western Canada particularly popular among the Aussie contingent, especially winter resort destinations such as Whistler, BC and Banff, AB.

The expanded age range will give more Australians who may be many years into their career the option either to continue that career in Canada, or take some time out by moving north and taking on more casual employment for a period.

Because Australia receives an unlimited supply of IEC work permits — indeed, Australia is the only participating IEC country to enjoy this privilege — expanding the age range, and thereby making more Australians eligible for the IEC, does not affect individual Australians’ chances of obtaining a work permit. Other participating countries have annual quotas, and demand has outpaced supply in some IEC pools over recent years.

All told, there are likely to be more Australians working in Canada over the coming years.

Canadian working holidays for Australians

By far the most popular IEC category is the Working Holiday category. Australian Working holidaymakers can spend up to 24 months in Canada on this work permit, hopping between locations and employers if they wish to do so.

To be eligible for the IEC Working Holiday, Australian applicants must:

  • Have a valid Australian passport for the duration of the stay in Canada (the work permit issued will not be issued for longer than the validity of the passport).
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 35 (inclusive) at the time of application.
  • Have the equivalent of CAD$2,500 on landing to help cover initial expenses.
  • Be able to take out health insurance for the full duration of their Working Holiday Visa in Canada (participants may have to present evidence of this insurance at the point of entry in Canada). View providers and get quotes on our travel insurance for Canada page.
  • Be admissible to Canada.
  • Have, prior to departure, a round-trip ticket or the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket for the end of their authorized stay in Canada.
  • Not be accompanied by dependants.
  • Pay the appropriate fees (participation fee of CAD$172 plus an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100).

IEC for Australians: other categories

Two other IEC categories, the Young Professionals and International Co-op categories, are also available to Australians.

The Young Professionals category is designed for those who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada. Participants must have a signed job offer letter or contract of employment with a Canadian employer before applying. The job offer must be within the candidate’s field of expertise, as proved by education or work experience. The job offer must also be considered skilled (classified as a National Occupation Code [NOC] Skill Type Level 0, A, or B).

International Co-op participants must be enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship and must want to complete a work placement or internship in Canada to fulfill part of their academic curriculum. Participants must have a signed job offer letter or contract for a work placement or internship in Canada that meets the requirements of their academic curriculum in their country of citizenship.

The requirements for the Working Holiday category, listed above, also apply to the Young Professionals and International Co-op categories.

A note on participation in IEC for Australians

Currently, Australians may enjoy a maximum of two participations under the IEC program. This may include a participation of 24 months in either the Working Holiday or Young Professionals category, and a second participation of 12 months in International Co-op. These two participations can be carried out in the order of the applicant’s choice.

It is not currently possible to participate more than once in any single category.

Immersion in a different culture

In announcing the amendment with Australia’s Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen stated that “International travel and work allows our youth to immerse themselves in a different culture and develop life skills, all while improving their employability back home. This expanded age range will give more young adults from Canada and Australia the opportunity to broaden their perspective of the world and gain professional work experience while traveling.”

The announcement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), published on August 29, 2018, added that Australia is consistently the top destination for Canadian youth through the IEC program, reflecting the reciprocity of the program.

Essential IEC resources

  • Canada Abroad team

    Canada Abroad

    Canada Abroad is a transparent Canadian immigration consultancy with advice you can trust. Led by Deanne Acres-Lans (RCIC #508363), the team delivers professional, regulated, and efficient service.

  • The Doherty Fultz Immigration team staff members

    Doherty Fultz Immigration

    Led by Anthony Doherty (RCIC #510956) and Cassandra Fultz (#514356), the Doherty Fultz team uses their 40+ years of experience to empower you towards settling in Canada.

  • Perez McKenzie Immigration

    Led by Jenny Perez (RCIC #423103), Perez McKenzie Immigration is a Canadian immigration consultancy based in British Columbia, with offices in Vancouver and Whistler.

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