International Experience Canada [R205(b)] (exemption code C21) – Processing procedures
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.
International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit applications from foreign nationals are reviewed for:
- eligibility for participation in the IEC program according to the bilateral agreement and arrangement applicable to their citizenship or to the conditions of a supporting recognized organization; and
- eligibility and admissibility for a work permit according to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
All foreign nationals undergo the same application process under IEC.
On this page
- Application process
- Eligibility to participate
- Processing IEC work permits
- IEC categories and coding
- Best practices when issuing work permits at ports of entry
- Work permit validity period and notes for ports of entry
- Change of employers for employer-specific categories (Young Professionals or International Co-op [Internship])
- Employer-specific IEC work permits – Working for the same employer but at more than one location
- Service standards
Clients are required to initiate their participation (i.e., to register) by creating and submitting an online IEC profile through their IRCC personal account. Using these profiles, a pool of eligible candidates for each country or territory and each category is created. Clients can indicate their interest in more than one category, if applicable. After they submit a profile, clients become “candidates”. Once candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), they have 10 calendar days to refuse or accept the ITA. If they accept the ITA, they are considered to be “applicants”, and they have 20 calendar days to submit their work permit application (the 20-day period starts the date the applicants accept their ITA). If their application is approved, applicants will be issued a Letter of Introduction (LOI) and become “participants”. Participants must present their LOI to a border services officer upon arrival in Canada to obtain their IEC work permit.
The only method for IEC applicants to submit a work permit is through their IRCC Personal Account (American citizens and U.S. permanent residents excepted). Visa application centres (VAC), migration offices, centralized processing centres and local offices in Canada cannot accept IEC work permit applications.
If a candidate does not respond to the ITA within the prescribed 10-day period, their profile will be deactivated. To be considered again, the foreign national can submit a new profile in the same, or in a different IEC category.
Eligibility to participate
Refer to participation eligibility requirements program delivery instructions (PDIs) for guidance.
Processing IEC work permits
File assignment: primary office
- All IEC applications are automatically promoted by the Global Case Management System (GCMS). Candidates’ profiles are linked to the Unique Client Identifier (UCI) once they have accepted their invitation to apply.
- Upon creation of their profiles, applicants are given a ‘W’ number which once they are invited to apply to a work permit, becomes their work permit application number.
- Once they have accepted their ITA, they have access to a dynamic work permit electronic application.
- Through their IRCC personal account, the IEC applicant uses a dynamic work permit application form to submit their application. This means that no IMM 1295 form is completed, as the information submitted online is directly uploaded to GCMS and replaces all information on the IMM 1295 form.
- Upon receipt of the uploaded information, GCMS automatically creates a prospective work permit application and sets the primary office to “OSC”.
- For applications referred to migration offices, for example, where there are complex admissibility concerns, the Operations Support Centre (OSC) uses electronic transfers to refer the applications to the migration office responsible for the applicant’s country or territory of citizenship, which automatically sets the migration office as the primary office.
Note: IEC applications from recognized organizations that cannot be finalized by the OSC are referred to a migration office for a final decision.
- Before referring the case to a migration office, the OSC officer should enter the following note in the “Notes” section, in GCMS: “Eligibility to participate assessed and passed. Admissibility determination referred to migration office <insert name of the migration office>”.
Application and documentation
- Clients who choose to use the services of a recognized organization and who have received an ITA letter must upload a copy of the confirmation letter from their recognized organization when they submit their work permit application.
- The Come to Canada Wizard creates a personal document checklist based on the requirements of the IEC program. Officers should ensure that all required documents on the checklist are submitted. Officers processing IEC work permit applications can check whether a police certificate or a medical examination is required.
- If a work permit application is refused and the foreign national still wishes to participate in IEC, they must create a new profile in order to determine, once again, their eligibility in IEC.
Refer to who must submit to an immigration medical examination for guidance.
Refer to participation eligibility requirements for guidance. For IEC, police certificates are required only for applicants who have lived in other countries or territories, outside their residence, for six consecutive months or more since their 18th birthday.
Fees and refunds
- When can a refund be issued? for information on when refunds of the employer compliance fee and open work permit holder fee may be initiated.
- Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions for information on employer compliance fee and refunds.
IEC categories and coding
Specific country and territory guidelines for age eligibility, available categories, types of work permits, and validity periods can be found in Bilateral agreements and arrangements and Recognized organizations.
Foreign nationals fall under one of the three overarching IEC categories below.
Work performed by Young Professionals, under IEC, needs to be remunerated. However, in most cases, for the International Co-op (Internship) category, participants may not be remunerated. Regardless of whether or not applicants are remunerated, all IEC applicants are required to apply for a work permit. For more details, see the definition of “work” in the IRPR and the PDIs on what activities are considered to be work.
This category is for applicants whose intention is to travel in Canada and work in order to supplement their financial resources.
Note: For tracking purposes, officers are advised to use the special program code WHP.
International Co-op (Internship)
This category is for applicants who are registered post-secondary students in their country of residence and whose intention is to fulfill part of their academic curriculum in Canada by completing a pre-arranged work placement that is related to their field of study.
Note: For tracking purposes, officers are advised to use the special program code ICP.
This category is for applicants whose intention is to gain work experience in Canada under a pre-arranged contract of employment in support of their career development. As of 2015, the job offered in Canada must be classified as National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type level 0, A or B to be considered professional experience. A NOC C job might be accepted if the applicant can submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree with their work permit application, demonstrating a direct link to their field of study. This rule also applies to those intending to work in the agricultural industry. Under the Young Professionals category, the candidate must always demonstrate that an employer-employee relationship exists.
No self-employment should be accepted for this category. Under the Young Professionals category, work is required to be paid, and remuneration can come from a foreign source.
Young Professionals candidates should be assessed based only on the NOC. Previous job experience should not be assessed, as has been the case during IEC’s previous seasons.
Note: For tracking purposes, officers are advised to enter the special program code YPP.
Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): IEC applicants do not require an LMIA. For program integrity requirements, the only LMIA exemption code to be used for all IEC work permit applications is C21.
Cost Recovery: IEC applicants pay a “participation fee” and are exempt from paying the work permit processing fee. The cost recovery exemption code for the work permit is E05.
Biometrics: IEC applicants from biometric-requiring countries or territories are required to do biometrics and pay the biometric fee.
Special program codes
|IRCC code||Special program title||NOC code||Case type|
|ICP||International Co-op Program||NOC code as per occupation||52|
|WHP||Working Holiday Program||NOC code = 9999 (only)||58|
|YPP||Young Professional Program||NOC code as per occupation (minimum NOC code B)||52|
Note: Due to the requirement to control the number of IEC work permits issued in these categories and to report on them to Parliament, it is essential that the correct LMIA exemption code (C21), special program codes and case types be used.
- Before issuing an open IEC work permit, the border services officer should verify in GCMS whether or not the IEC participant has passed an immigration medical examination. If not, conditions restricting their occupation must be imposed. Please consult who must submit to an immigration medical examination for further guidance.
- Once it is determined that the foreign national still meets the requirements and is admissible, the work permit should be issued as indicated in the LOI unless the case notes in GCMS indicate differently (see notes for ports of entry below).
- Notwithstanding the LOI and the notes, border services officers are advised not to issue an IEC work permit beyond the duration specified in the bilateral agreement or arrangement (for example, only six months for Italy) or as specified by the RO.
- IEC applicants are work permit fee exempt. They must not be charged the work permit fee at the POE.
- Check the “Notes” box of the work permit screen for guidance on the appropriate duration of the IEC work permit.
- Border services officers are advised to review the “Medical Results” field in GCMS to ensure that they are entering the correct conditions on the IEC participant’s work permit. For example, some specified occupations require that a medical examination be passed; some passed medical results require surveillance while the participant is in Canada.
- When the officer at the POE issues a work permit for a shorter period than what was indicated in the GCMS “Notes” field, the officer needs to include a case note in GCMS, explaining why the work permit was issued for a shorter period.
Work permit validity period and notes for ports of entry
The validity period of the IEC Letter of Introduction should not be confused with the validity period of the work permit.
The validity period of the IEC Letter of Introduction, which is normally for 12 months, is the period during which the foreign national must come to Canada to have their work permit issued at the port of entry. On the LOI there is a field titled “Validity”. The date found therein is the date by which the foreign national must present the LOI at a POE to activate their work permit.
The validity period of an IEC work permit is the period of employment that normally matches the period that the employer requested in the offer of employment (for employer-specific work permits) or the maximum validity allowed in the bilateral agreements or arrangements for recognized organizations (for open work permits). Border services officers should check the “Notes" box, on the work permit screen that generally indicates the validity period of the work permit, as determined by the processing officer.
The validity period for an IEC work permit may not exceed the maximum length of stay authorized under the agreement/arrangement (e.g., the maximum validity period of the work permit for Australian nationals cannot exceed 24 months) or the maximum length of stay allowed by a recognized organization supporting the applicant.
Some situations may result in a work permit validity shorter than the maximum allowed:
- Officers cannot issue a work permit or grant status as a temporary worker beyond the validity of the passport. Exceptions to this are noted in IRPR subsection 52(2).
- If the participant’s healthcare insurance is not valid for the entire period for which the work permit is sought, the duration of the work permit must be shortened to match the validity of the healthcare insurance. If the client receives a shorter work permit due to the length of their insurance policy, they are not eligible to apply for an extension at a later date. For more information, please consult scenario 3: Increasing the validity period of work permits under the International Experience Canada Program.
Letter of Introduction
For all IEC applicants, the Letter of Introduction should be issued for a validity period of 12 months or, to the date of expiry of the medical examination, whichever is shorter.
Entering notes on work permit validity in GCMS
The validity of the IEC work permit is generally determined by either a bilateral agreement or arrangement or by a Recognized Organization letter. The processing officer should enter a note in the “Notes” field of the work permit to alert the POE to the specific durations for IEC work permits.
Examples of port of entry (POE) notes:
- For WHP: Client meets IEC requirements for XX 2017. WHP. POE: issue WP for XX months from arrival date. As IEC is a yearly quota, this permit is NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A WP-EXT, unless the time indicated above was not issued at POE.
- No medical on file.
- Medical Passed Valid to YYYY/MM/DD.
- For YPP: Client meets IEC requirements for XX 2017. YPP is eligible for a maximum validity of XX months. Validity of work permit to match offer of employment/ employment contract. Offer of employment must be at NOC level 0, A or B. WP is extendable, with new offer of employment if the permit was not issued for the maximum validity. Client is eligible to change employers, if client provides valid justification (e.g., company closed, not receiving the wages or working conditions offered). Having a better wage or a better job cannot be accepted as a justification. Client may also apply for a WP-EXT, with the same employer, if the time indicated above was not issued at POE.
- No medical on file.
- Medical Passed Valid to YYYY/MM/DD.
Change of employers for employer-specific categories (Young Professionals or International Co-op [Internship])
If an IEC agreement exists between Canada and the foreign national’s country or territory of citizenship, and the requirements established by the IRPA and its Regulations are met, an open work permit may be obtained under IEC through the Working Holiday category that may allow the participant to register a new Canadian corporation for self-employment work. However, self-employment is not the main focus of the IEC Program, and final decisions are made by a delegated migration officer.
It should be noted that participants with an employer-specific work permit, under either the International Co-op (Internship) or Young Professionals category, must always demonstrate that an employer-employee relationship exists. No self-employment should be accepted for either category. Under the Young Professionals category, work needs to be remunerated, and remuneration can come from a foreign source. Under the International Co op (Internship) category, the position may be unpaid.
Any person considering self-employment in Canada while under the IEC should be made aware of the numerous federal, provincial, and municipal legislative and regulatory requirements related to operating a business in Canada.
Employer-specific IEC work permits – Working for the same employer but at more than one location
As of IEC’s 2018 season, the program accepts employer-specific work permit applications (YPP and ICP) for IEC clients who will be working for the same employer but at more than one location. This brings IEC in line with the overall International Mobility Program, which allows foreign nationals to work at more than one location for the same employer.
To meet these criteria, an employer must have the same Canada Revenue Agency business number and provide this number, as required, when submitting an offer of employment through the Employer Portal. The job offer, duties and wages cannot be different from one location to another.
An employer needs to enter the locations where the IEC client will be working through the Employer Portal. If the employer does not enter more than one location, then the IEC participant is limited to working at the location provided by the employer via the Employer Portal.
For example, when an employer has several franchise locations but indicates only one location on the offer of employment submitted through the system, the work permit should reflect the physical location of work and restrict the work to that location. However, if the employer indicates in the offer of employment that the worker will be working at multiple work locations, the officer should not restrict the work permit to a single location and should indicate in the “Notes” field that the worker is authorized to work at those various locations, across Canada.
- Based on the Service Level Standards set out between IEC and its partner countries or territories, complete work permit applications must be processed within eight weeks. The eight-week period begins on receipt of the complete work permit application (i.e., IRCC must have all information and supporting documents) and ends on the date the final decision is sent to the applicant.
- When there are requests for further information or documentation, this period will be suspended, but attempts should be made to ensure that applications are processed in timely manner.
- For applications transferred to a migration office for final decision, the eight-week service standard for IEC no longer applies. A new processing time applies, based on the service standard of the migration office.
- For questions regarding IEC participation eligibility assessment or general IEC questions, applicants should be referred to the IEC website.
- For case-specific requests for applications that are processed at the OSC, IEC applicants should be directed to use the IRCC web form.
- If a migration office receives a case-specific request from an IEC applicant whose application is processed at the OSC, the applicant should be directed to use the IRCC Web form.
Migration offices, case processing centres and local IRCC offices can create a standard reply message for these situations, such as the following:
“You have requested information regarding your International Experience Canada work permit application. This office is not processing these applications and, therefore, cannot be of further assistance. Please consult the IRCC website and submit your question using the IRCC web form.”
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