Canada and Portugal Sign New Youth Mobility Arrangement

News release

Memorandum of Understanding will give young Canadians the opportunity to live and work in Portugal through the International Experience Canada Program

May 3, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad, today signed a new bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement between Canada and Portugal.

This new arrangement on youth mobility will open further channels of exchange between Canadian and Portuguese young people. It will allow Canadian and Portuguese youth aged 18 to 35 to work and travel through the Working Holiday, International Co-op, and Young Professional streams of the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program. This new arrangement will provide an opportunity for Portuguese youth to travel and work in Canada, while young Canadians may travel and work in Portugal.

The IEC Program facilitates the process for young people to gain valuable international work experience and travel abroad. The addition of Portugal adds one more fantastic destination to the 33 partner countries and territories already available to young Canadians looking for an international experience. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, who is currently touring several Canadian cities.


“I am pleased that we are able to reach this arrangement with Portugal and further strengthen the great relationship between our two countries. Getting international travel and work experience allows youth to immerse themselves in a different culture and develop life skills, all while improving their employability back at home. This new arrangement will give Canadian and Portuguese youth the opportunity to broaden their perspective of the world and gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures, languages and societies while traveling and working abroad.”

 – The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“I am very happy that we have signed today our Youth Mobility Arrangement which I am confident will give great impetus to people-to-people contacts, thus enabling Canadian and Portuguese youth to gain a better understanding of each other’s culture, language and society. We hope that this instrument will ultimately contribute to bringing us closer together, while improving mutual knowledge of the existing opportunities in both our countries. I encourage our youth to take advantage of the experience that this agreement will provide, embarking on a journey that will enable them to discover different ways and traditions, increasing at the same time their personal and  professional wealth.”

 – José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad

Quick facts

  • Canada and Portugal enjoy a strong relationship, founded on common values, deep and significant people-to-people bonds, and mutually beneficial commercial relations. Canada is home to a vibrant Portuguese-Canadian community with more than 480,000 Canadians of Portuguese origin.

  • The Working Holiday initiative originated in 1951 as a cultural exchange between Canada and Germany following the Second World War. In 1967, following the success of the initiative, Canada proceeded to create an international travel and exchange program. More than 45 years later, Canada is still very committed to fostering cultural exchanges between young people.

  • More than 200,000 Canadians have taken advantage of the work and travel experiences to be gained through the International Experience Canada program, and many return to Canada with life-changing experiences valuable to both their personal and professional lives.

  • There are three categories of participation under the program:

    1. Working Holiday participants receive open work permits that allow them to work anywhere in the host country, to support their travels.
    2. International Co-op participants receive employer-specific work permits that allow students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
    3. Young Professionals participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.

Associated links


Contacts for media only:

Hursh Jaswal
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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