Working Holiday Canada News
What we know about the 2021 IEC season.
Many people are wondering when IEC will open the 2021 season. At this time, there’s been no indication by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) regarding a plan for how to approach the 2021 IEC season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s borders remain closed to the majority of foreign nationals as many Canadian provinces are struggling to contain their second wave of infections. At the same time, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is already underway.
Notably, Canada did introduce a new requirement for anyone travelling to Canada by air. All air travellers are now required to present a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight. The test must have been taken within 72 hours of their flight departure. This does not replace the mandatory quarantine requirement. Full details here.
With so much uncertainty and so many variables at play, it is challenging to predict what’s in store for IEC in 2021. It’s worthwhile to reflect on the IEC strategy for 2020: pause invitations and application processing while focusing on the pandemic. However, Canada has managed to resume many other immigration programs which had been paused in the early months of COVID-19, so it is possible IEC could resume even while COVID-19 continues to spread.
In normal times, by early January we would already have an opening date for the next IEC season. But, as we all know by now, these are not normal times. We can promise you that our team continues to monitor IRCC for all immigration updates and we will report on any changes as soon as they become available.
IEC applications submitted before the COVID-19 travel restrictions: IRCC has not provided an update regarding IEC hopefuls who had received invitations and submitted their applications, but had not received a decision on their work permits prior to the COVID-19 travel restrictions coming into effect. At this point in time, IRCC has not made any indication that these applications would be cancelled, but they also have not provided any timeline for resuming processing.
Canada extends border closure with the United States until Feb 21: Canada has extended its border closure and travel restrictions with the United States until at least February 21, 2021 (Source: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). Travel restrictions with all other countries remain in place until at least January 21, 2021, but may be extended beyond this date (Source: Public Safety Canada).
Confirmation of entry requirements for IEC participants: IEC participants are exempt from travel restrictions and able to enter Canada if they meet one of these two scenarios.
- IEC participants who have not yet activated their work permits must have a valid job offer in order to enter, this job offer does not need to be in an essential sector (Source: IRCC); or
- IEC participants who have already activated their work permits and were outside the country temporarily do not require a valid job offer in order to re-enter (Source: IRCC; note that anecdotal reports suggest airline staff and border agents may deny entry to Canada without proof of connection to Canada, like employment, housing, or family, when boarding).
Full details about IEC participating countries and available work permits here.
How is COVID-19 impacting IEC and the Working Holiday program?
Canada’s immigration authorities are implementing some measures for certain individuals impacted by COVID-19. These measures provide some leniency to certain immigration applications. It should also be noted that Canada now mandates people arriving in the country to self-quarantine for 14 days. This is mandatory, and penalties apply for those found not to be obeying.
Here are the most common questions about IEC and COVID-19. Full details can be found on the Canadian government guidelines.
Is IEC still processing applications?
No. IEC applications are not being processed at this time.
IRCC has not provided an update regarding IEC hopefuls who had received invitations and submitted their applications, but had not received a decision on their work permits prior to the COVID-19 travel restrictions coming into effect. At this point in time, IRCC has not made any indication that these applications would be cancelled, but they also have not provided any timeline for resuming processing.
Is IEC still issuing invitations?
No. The 2020 IEC season closed on November 12, 2020.