Canada Increases Candidate Pool for International Experience Program

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In yet another bid to manage the current labour shortage, Canada has increased the applicant pool of its International Experience Canada (IEC) program by 20 per cent. When the program reopens on January 9, 2023, 15,000 more candidates can add their profiles to the applicant pool.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states that the increase will see nearly 90,000 candidates working in the country. Announcing the increase, Sean Fraser, Minister in charge of immigration, noted that the “government is helping more international youth to work and travel in Canada, effectively helping employers, most of those in the tourism industry, find the workers they need. By giving youth the opportunity of international travel and work experience, we are strengthening our economy and helping our businesses succeed.”

“Government is helping more international youth to work and travel in Canada, effectively helping employers, most of those in the tourism industry, find the workers they need. By giving youth the opportunity of international travel and work experience, we are strengthening our economy and helping our businesses succeed.”

— Sean Fraser, Immigration Minister

IEC is a reciprocal program which allows citizens of 36 partnering countries to work and travel in Canada and vice versa. The period of employment varies between 12 months to two years, depending on the country. To be eligible, candidates must be between 18 and 35 years of age, although in some countries, the upper age limit is 30. If a partnership agreement is not in place, those interested in the program can apply through Recognized Organizations (ROs) listed on IEC website. Once in the pool, IRCC selects candidates and invites them to apply for the category of their choice within 20 days and request a work permit.

The program has three categories

“Government is helping more international youth to work and travel in Canada” – Sean Fraser

1. Working Holiday:  This category allows successful candidates to work for any employer, anywhere in Canada. Candidates do not require a job offer and are issued an open work permit. The tourism and hospitality sectors are popular in this category, as employers are open to hiring on a short-term basis.

2. Young Professionals: Those applying under this category must prove that their employment in Canada will contribute to their professional development. The job must be related to their field of study or career, classified under the Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) and listed in the 0,1,2,3 categories of the National Occupation Classifications (NOC). Candidates are issued an employer-specific work permit and are allowed to work only for that employer and at a single location.

3. International Co-op (Internship): Similar to the Young Professionals category, candidates must have an employer-specific work permit, and employment must align with their program of study. 

Depending on each province or territory’s labour codes, candidates may or may not receive a wage. Unlike the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, employers hiring through this program do not require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). 

While the number of candidates picked from each country depends on the quota allocated to that country and category, the IEC program does not lead to permanent residency in Canada. Apart from providing valuable work experience and meeting Canada’s labour shortage, IEC offers an opportunity for youths to learn and understand different cultures, languages and life skills. 

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