While the Federal Skilled Worker Program remains as the primary avenue for many skilled workers to come to Canada, the International Experience Canada (IEC) also remains as the main avenue for foreign youths who want to stay and work in Canada for a specific amount of time (the longest being 2 years).
Canada partners with 32 countries in a bilateral youth mobility arrangement. And every year, the country opens its doors to qualified youths from the 32 countries, giving them opportunities to work in Canada under 3 different categories: working holiday, young professionals, and international co-op. The length of stay granted to the youth applicants is determined by factors such as their age, their home country, and the program they’re applying to. The maximum amount of time allotted is 24 months.
For this year 2015, the program will officially open this month. Here’s an overview of the 3 different categories under the program:
Applicants to the 3 categories must be a resident of one of the 32 countries as their country of citizenship. They must be between the age of 18 and 30 during the application (maximum age is 35 for some countries). They must be admissible to Canada and must have a valid passport, which must not be expiring during the duration of their stay in the country.
They must also have a health insurance throughout the duration of their stay, as well as a round-trip ticket back to their home country. In case they don’t have a return ticket, they must show proof of having enough funds to purchase one. They must also be able to pay any corresponding fees, and must have $2,500 CAD upon arrival to show proof of capability to provide for themselves. Lastly, they must not be accompanied by any dependent.
Working Holiday Category
Of the 3 categories under IEC, this is the most sought after because it offers applicants more freedom via an open work permit. This allows applicants to work anywhere they want and for any employer they prefer.
Because of the popularity of this program, slots in some countries are often filled as soon as the program opens. As an example of just how extreme this is, the number of slots in Ireland last year were quickly taken within 8 minutes of the program opening in the said country – that is how fast things can go.
Young Professionals Category
Unlike the Working Holiday category, applicants to the Young Professionals category must have a job offer from a Canadian employer or a contract of employment with a Canadian company.
The program is designed for foreign youths (particularly those with post-secondary education) who want to get career advancement by gaining work experience in Canada. Their job offer or employment contract must be related to their area of training or expertise and must show that it can indeed contribute to their professional development. The job must be under the National Occupation Code Level 0, A, or B.
International Co-Op (Internship) Category
This program is designed for students who are enrolled in a post secondary institution in their home country and would like to apply for an internship in Canada as part of completing their degree. To apply, students must have a job offer or employment contract, and the offered job must meet the internship requirements in the students’ academic institution back in their home country.
Accepted applicants will be issued a visa (usually valid up to 12 months), and they will need to remain enrolled in their academic institution throughout the duration of the internship.
The Future of IEC Youths
Many of the participants in Canada’s IEC program end up extending their stay in Canada or making Canada their home. This is easy because of the different programs that are open to IEC ‘graduates’. Some of the most popular are the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canada Experience Class. And now that the Express Entry is in place, IEC youths will have a great advantage in terms of processing.
For one, because the age of applicants under Express Entry is up to 44 years old, and more points are awarded to younger applicants, youths have automatic advantage over older candidates. The experience they have obtained during their stay will also most probably get them more points.
And if they have graduated from their academic institution after the experience and their degree was found to be equivalent to that of Canada, these will all give additional points. The possibility of acceptance is high for those who got to Canada via IEC.
Those interested in the program are advised to get their requirements ready as soon as possible in order to be sure they’ll get slots once the program opens.