Portuguese citizens aged 18 to 35 will soon be able to work and travel in Canada through the Working Holiday, International Co-op, and Young Professional categories of the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.
This new arrangement will allow up to 2,000 Portuguese youth to travel and work in Canada under the aforementioned IEC categories. The arrangement is expected to be implemented for the 2019 IEC season, which will begin in fall 2018. Portuguese youth may receive work permits of up to 24 months in duration once the arrangement is up and running.
Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, was joined in Ottawa by José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad, to sign the new bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement between Canada and Portugal. The countries’ respective Prime Ministers, Justin Trudeau and António Costa, also witnessed the May 3 ceremony.
Portugal joins 33 other countries in having a reciprocal Youth Mobility Arrangement of this type. Over recent years, the IEC program has facilitated the entry of tens of thousands of foreign youth to Canada, with participants eager to make the most of their time in Canada.
For many participants, this means enjoying what Canada has to offer while having enough income to support travel throughout the country, or getting some experience to help build a career back home. This was reflected in Minister Hussen’s comments:
“I am pleased that we are able to reach this arrangement with Portugal and further strengthen the great relationship between our two countries. Getting international travel and work experience allows youth to immerse themselves in a different culture and develop life skills, all while improving their employability back at home. This new arrangement will give Canadian and Portuguese youth the opportunity to broaden their perspective of the world and gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures, languages and societies while traveling and working abroad.” – Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration.
Other participants, however, have longer-term settlement goals. Fortunately for them, Canadian work experience can be a highly valuable factor when pursuing permanent residence. Canada’s Express Entry immigration selection system, the main driver of economic immigration to Canada, emphasizes the importance of Canadian work experience, as do many of the Provincial Nominee Programs, through which Canadian provinces may nominate individuals for permanent residence based on criteria set by the province.
The most popular IEC category is the Working Holiday. Participants receive open work permits that allow them to work anywhere in Canada.
International Co-op participants receive employer-specific work permits that allow student participants to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
Young Professionals participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.
As this is a reciprocal arrangement, up to 2,000 Canadian citizens have the option of obtaining a work permit for Portugal under the same youth mobility categories.