International Experience Canada (IEC)

Are you between the ages of 18 and 35 inclusive? Or 18 to 30 years inclusive? Do you wish to experience working in Canada for a period, usually around a year? Whether it’s a work and travel holiday, or gaining professional experience, or gaining work experience related to your post-secondary field of study, International Experience Canada (IEC) may be just the ticket you’re looking for.

There are 3 types of travel and work experiences, or categories, available:

Working Holiday:

As the name suggests, this is for eligible travelers who wish to work and help pay for their travels to Canada. This is for young people who:

  • Don’t’ want to work for just one employer
  • Don’t want to work at just one job
  • Don’t have a job offer
  • You need what is called an open work permit.

Young Professionals:

This is for young people generally with post-secondary education who wish to gain experience working in Canada. To qualify you must:

  • Have a job offer in Canada related to your profession or professional goals;
  • Work for the same employer in the same location in Canada;
  • Be paid for your work;
  • NOT be self-employed;
  • The job must be classified as:
    • NOC 0 = management occupations, OR
    • NOC A = occupations that usually require a university degree, OR
    • NOC B = occupations that require college education or apprenticeship training
    • NOC C = these occupations that require secondary school and occupation-specific training only qualify if you are able to submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree with your work permit application. Please note that your diploma, certificate, or degree must be translated into English or French. Without a post-secondary diploma/certificate/degree NOC C jobs do NOT qualify.
  • Your work permit will be an employer-specific work permit.

International Co-op Internship:

This is for post-secondary students who:

  • Are registered students at a post-secondary institution
  • Have a job offer for work placement or internship in Canada
  • Are required to do this work placement or internship to complete their studies
  • Will work for the same employer in the same location during their internship.

Who can apply to IEC?

Good question. The answer is: young people from most countries can apply, but the rules depend on which country your home country happens to be. And yes, there’s a quota system in place, and as well, you have to submit an online profile and join a candidate pool, similar to Express Entry. Let’s do a deep dive and find out what the process is!

Canada has a series of agreements with so-called IEC countries that allows reciprocal arrangements for young people who wish to work temporarily in Canada to come through IEC, or for Canadians to work in the foreign IEC country to go abroad to work for usually a year, although the period of time varies.

The IEC countries are as follows:

CountryIEC Categories AvailableEligible Ages (inclusive)
AustraliaWorking Holiday – 24 months
Young Professionals – 24 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
AustriaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 6 months
18 – 30
18 – 35
18 – 35
BelgiumWorking Holiday – 12 months18 – 30
ChileWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
Costa RicaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
CroatiaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
CzechiaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
DenmarkWorking Holiday – 12 months18 – 35
EstoniaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
FranceWorking Holiday – 24 months
Young Professionals – 24 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
GermanyWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
GreeceWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
Hong KongWorking Holiday – 12 months18 – 30
IrelandWorking Holiday – 24 months
Young Professionals – 24 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
ItalyWorking Holiday – 6 months18 – 35
JapanWorking Holiday – 12 months18 – 30
South KoreaWorking Holiday – 12 months18 – 30
LatviaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
LithuaniaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
MexicoWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 29
18 – 29
18 – 29
NetherlandsWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
18 – 30
18 – 30
New ZealandWorking Holidays – 23 months18 – 35
NorwayWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
PolandWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
SlovakiaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
SloveniaWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
SpainWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
SwedenWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 30
18 – 30
18 – 30
SwitzerlandYoung Professionals – 18 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
19 – 35
TaiwanWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
UkraineWorking Holiday – 12 months
Young Professionals – 12 months
International Co-op – 12 months
18 – 35
18 – 35
18 – 35
United KingdomWorking Holiday – 24 months18 – 30

Note that some countries have a lower maximum age: either 30, or in the case of Mexico 29 years. As well, it is clear from the table above that both the work experiences available (WH, YP, or IC) vary from country to country, including the maximum length you are allowed to stay in Canada under IEC.

Can I qualify for IEC if I am not from one of the 34 IEC countries?

Yes, you can but the rules are slightly different. To qualify if you are not from an IEC country you must go through what is called a Recognized Organization, or RO. These are education and youth service organizations that offer work and support to youth wishing to travel and/or work in other countries. They generally charge a fee for their services, which include:

  • Providing information about Canada’s culture, language, laws, and taxes
  • Helping you find a job in Canada
  • Helping you with transportation
  • Providing general support and advice.

The following are the Recognized Organizations that eligible youth can use to apply to International Experience Canada:

  • AIESEC Canada: a non-profit that develops leadership in youth
    • Young Professionals category only
    • 18 – 30 years old inclusive
    • IEC countries + Brazil + India
    • Website: https://aiesec.org/
  • GO International: a Canadian organization that offers work and travel
    • Working Holiday (open work permit)
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries + Brazil + Ecuador + USA
    • Website: http://www.gointernational.ca/
  • IAESTE: an international organization that offers technical career-related jobs
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries + go here to see over 80 member countries
    • Website: https://iaeste.org/about
  • IAE (International Rural Exchange): Canadian organization that offers paid placement to youth with education and experience in farming, gardening and landscaping and other jobs in agriculture and horticulture
    • Working Holidays (open work permit)
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • Only available to IEC countries
    • Website: http://www.irecanada.ca/
  • MUN (Memorial University of Newfoundland): offers internships for students and recent graduates
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries only
    • Website: https://www.mun.ca/
  • Stepwest: offers opportunities from ski resort jobs to internships
    • Working Holiday (open work permit)
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries only
    • Website: https://www.stepwest.com/
  • SWAP Working Holidays: offers work and travel opportunities
    • Working Holiday (open work permit)
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries + USA
    • Website: http://www.swap.ca/
  • University of British Columbia: offers a program for internships and recent graduates
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 35 years inclusive
    • IEC countries + Brazil + China + India + Iceland + Pakistan + Singapore + Uganda + USA
    • Website: https://www.ubc.ca/
  • University of New Brunswick – Students Abroad Programs: helps with internships, academic placements, and research opportunities
    • Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit)
    • International Co-op (employer-specific work permit)
    • 18 – 30 years inclusive
    • IEC countries only
    • Website: https://www.unb.ca/exchange/

As you can see from this list:

  • Some Recognized Organizations (RO’s) are only for youth from IEC countries.
  • If you are from an IEC country (the 34 listed in the table above) then you can choose to use an RO to help you with your IEC application, but you are not obligated to as a citizen of an IEC country.
  • You must still upload your profile at IEC and be placed in a pool of candidates. Using an RO does not guarantee you will be able to be placed within the IEC categories as the quotas are often filled quickly at the start of each year.

How to Apply

  • The first step is generally to go to the Come to Canada tool and answer the online questionnaire. However, if you are from one of the 34 IEC-member countries it is often best to go here and create an account first.
  • If you get a positive assessment after answering the Come to Canada questionnaire, you will be given an alphanumeric (letters and numbers) that will be your personal reference code. Copy down the code as you will need it later on in the application process.
  • You should then go to MyCIC, (which is where you created and account in the first step if that was your choice rather than use the Come to Canada tool first), and complete and submit your profile. If you already created an account before signing in to your MyCIC, you will not need a personal reference code. You just need to finish the profile.
  • Remember to have your valid passport with you when you fill in your IEC profile.
  • You will then be placed in a pool of candidates. There is 1 candidate pool per category (Working Holiday, Young Professionals, International Co-op) per country. Remember as you can see from the table above, that not every category is available in some countries. If you are selected for IEC, you will be notified through your account at MyCIC.

If you use a Recognized Organization because you are not from an IEC member country, then you should visit the RO’s website for specific details on how to apply through the RO. Remember, you will still have to qualify and be placed in a pool of candidates. Using an RO does not guarantee you will be selected, even if it’s your only option because you are not from an IEC member country.