International Experience Canada [R205(b)] (exemption code C21) – Participation eligibility requirements

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Citizenship and residency

A foreign national applying under a bilateral agreement or arrangement must be a citizen of 1 of the countries or a resident of 1 of the territories with which Canada holds a bilateral agreement or arrangement. Some bilateral agreements and arrangements require that the applicant be residing in said country or territory at the time of the application. When assessing this requirement, the processing agent should first consider the residency requirements as stipulated in the bilateral agreement or arrangement.

To determine residency, candidates only need to provide an address in their country of citizenship. This could be either the mailing or residential address.

Note: The citizenship and residency requirement does not apply to applicants participating under the banner of an IEC recognized organization unless the foreign national is from a country or territory that holds a bilateral agreement or arrangement with Canada. Recognized organization applicants from IEC countries and territories must still meet the citizenship and residency requirements as outlined in their country or territory’s bilateral agreement or arrangement with Canada.

Age

Applicants must meet the age requirement applicable to them as defined in the bilateral agreement or arrangement between Canada and their country or territory of citizenship on the date they receive an “invitation to apply (ITA)”. Applicants are deemed eligible when they receive an ITA. Most countries/territories set the age requirement to be between 18 and 35. However, agreements and arrangements with Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom set the age requirement to be between 18 and 30, and the bilateral agreement with Mexico sets the age requirement to be between 18 and 29. For Austria, the age requirement is 18 to 30 for Working Holiday, but 18 to 35 for both Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship).

Note: Those applying through a recognized organization must meet the age requirement set out between the organization and IEC. If the foreign national applying to IEC through a recognized organization is from a country or territory that holds a bilateral agreement or arrangement with Canada, the age requirement will be that which is stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding with the recognized organization.

Passport validity

Subsection R52(1) states that in order to become a temporary resident, a foreign national must hold a passport that remains valid throughout the period of their authorized stay in Canada. Exceptions to this are noted in R52(2).

Each IEC application must include a legible photocopy of the identification pages (biodata pages) of the applicant’s passport. The copy must show the:

  • given and family names
  • date of birth
  • place of birth
  • passport issuance date
  • expiry date
  • applicant’s signature

The passport must be valid for at least 1 day beyond the date of the applicant’s planned departure from Canada.

Refer to the eligibility and admissibility instructions, which describe how to take into account the passport validity period when issuing work permits.

Sufficient financial resources, including transportation to depart from Canada

International Experience Canada requires that participants have sufficient financial resources to cover their expenses at the beginning of their stay in Canada (minimum of CAN$2,500) to cover any expenses (e.g., room and board) that may be incurred at the beginning of their stay. This requirement simply reflects the provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its Regulations respecting the admissibility of any foreign national into Canada for a temporary stay. A border services officer at a port of entry will not admit a foreign national into Canada unless they are satisfied that the foreign national will be able to support themselves while they are in Canada.

IEC applicants who intend to take an unpaid work placement in Canada under the International Co-op (internship) category may be asked by a border services officer to prove that they have additional financial resources to cover their expenses for their entire stay. In some cases, an IEC applicant’s travel and living expenses are covered by a recognized organization (i.e., Mennonite Central Committee of Canada). For more details, consult the Recognized organizations Program Delivery Instructions.

Travel or health-care insurance

At time of application, IEC applicants do not have to provide proof of health-care insurance (The only exception to the upfront proof of health-care insurance is where applicants are applying from within Canada to extend an employer-specific work permit as described in scenario 4). They are, however, required to declare that they will purchase comprehensive health-care insurance, including insurance for hospitalization and repatriation, for the entire duration of their authorized period of stay in Canada. Applicants should be advised that they should purchase their health-care insurance only after they have received their letter of introduction.

It is imperative that IEC applicants have health-care insurance during their stay in Canada so that they do not make an excessive demand on Canada’s health-care system. Border services officers must verify that health-care insurance has been obtained before issuing the work permit.

If participants do not have the required insurance, they may be refused entry. If their insurance is not valid for the entire period for which the work permit is sought, the duration of the work permit may be shortened accordingly. If they receive a shorter work permit due to the length of their insurance policy, they will not be eligible to apply for an extension at a later date.

Note: When a border services officer issues a work permit for shorter duration, it is important that the officer includes clear case notes explaining the reasons in GCMS.

Previous participation or discontinuous stay

Foreign nationals applying under a bilateral arrangement or agreement may be permitted to benefit from IEC more than once in their lifetime. Some bilateral agreements and arrangements require foreign nationals to apply under a different category (i.e., Working Holiday, International Co-op or Young Professionals) for their second participation. Some countries require that the 2 stays be discontinuous. See Bilateral agreements and arrangements for details.

The policy on repeated participation for foreign nationals applying under a recognized organization is capped at a maximum of twice in a lifetime. The 2 participations are cumulative between all present, past or future recognized organizations. There is no discontinuity requirement for these individuals.

Applicant not accompanied by dependants

Under the IEC program requirements, applicants may not include any dependants (i.e., spouses, common-law partners or children) on their application to benefit from the IEC program. This means that an applicant and their family members may not benefit from the IEC program as a family unit under 1 IEC application. However, this does not prevent spouses or common-law partners, dependant(s) from submitting their own individual request to come to Canada (e.g., spouse may submit their own application to benefit from the IEC program).

IRCC has no specific policy prohibiting spouses and dependants of IEC participants from joining them in Canada. However, the spouse and dependant(s) must be admissible to Canada on their own merits.

The spouse or common-law partner of an IEC participant is not eligible to obtain an open work permit by virtue of the participant’s IEC application. However, the spouse or common-law partner can apply for an open work permit if the IEC candidate is approved to work in Canada for 6 months or longer and is working in a job at skill level 0, A or B in the National Occupational Classification (NOC).

Note: To obtain a spousal open work permit, if the IEC participant holds an open work permit, the IEC participant must submit documentation as part of their spouse’s application outlining how their employment meets the skill levels 0, A or B.

Likewise, the children of an IEC participant are not eligible to obtain a study permit by virtue of the participant’s IEC application. They must submit their own application for a study permit if they intend to study in Canada.

As the IEC is an international experience wherein the applicant is expected to experience another country, Canada, and then return to their home country, the processing officer or border services officer must be satisfied that the participant and family members will depart Canada at the end of their authorized stay.

For more information about eligibility requirements such as passport validity, health-care insurance, and sufficient financial resources, consult Apply—International Experience Canada.

Medical examinations

See Who must submit to an immigration medical examination?

  • All IEC applicants, regardless of nationality, must undergo an immigration medical examination (IME) if they plan to work in a designated occupation, regardless of the duration of their work permit.
  • IEC applicants must also undergo an IME if they have lived or travelled in certain countries or territories for 6 months or more and plan to work or reside in Canada for more than 6 months.
  • Applicants planning to work in specific occupations involving close contact with vulnerable populations must undergo a medical exam.

For more information about medical examinations, consult “Who must submit to an immigration medical examination?

Police certificates

  • IEC applicants who are from countries or territories that have no requirements to obtain a police certificate for IEC may be asked by the officer processing their application to provide one.
  • Applicants who have lived in other countries or territories outside of their permanent residence for 6 consecutive months or more since their 18th birthday must provide a police certificate for each of those countries or territories. Refer to “How to get a police certificate” for information on police certificate requirements.
  • If the applicant is unable to obtain a police certificate before the deadline to submit their work permit application, the applicant may instead upload a copy of the receipt proving that they requested a police certificate or they may provide a copy of the email confirmation received when they requested the police certificate online. Note that the applicant must have the police certificate available when the IRCC officer requests it before the issuance of the work permit or the application will be refused.
  • Upfront police certificates are not required for U.S. citizens and permanent residents applying under a recognized organization if they have only lived in the U.S. Applicants who have lived in other countries or territories for 6 consecutive months or more since their 18th birthday must provide a police certificate for each of those countries or territories. Note that officers may request a police certificate at any time if they have concerns.
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