International Experience Canada: One of the most facilitative Canadian work permit categories set to reopen for the 2020 quota
As we have entered the new year, applicants can expect new Canadian immigration programs for both temporary and permanent residency. While Canadian permanent residency remains the ultimate goal for many applicants, some prefer to take a more measured approach and try out Canada through a work and travel type of permit. More specifically, we are talking about the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, generally aimed at individuals between 18-35 years of age. This is one of my personal favourites, and carries several advantages, which will be discussed in greater detail below.
The first major advantage is that this category applies to citizens of multiple countries, and in recent years, Immigration Canada has made efforts to sign new bilateral agreements. Currently, the IEC program is available to citizens from: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The second major advantage of this category is that it allows the option to receive an Open Canadian work permit. Generally, work permits are restricted based on employer, occupation and location (at the municipal level too). However, the Working Holiday stream of the IEC allows nationals of certain countries, to obtain unrestricted work permits.
Another major advantage is that these work permit fall under the International Mobility Program (IMP). Unlike work permits granted under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), these permits do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This generally results in huge cost savings for Canadian employers, and huge time savings for the foreign applicants themselves. An Offer of Employment, and payment of the CAD$230 Employer Compliance Fee, is still required for the employer specific work permits (under the Young Professionals or the International Co-Op/Internship streams). For the Working Holiday (the Open work permits) there is no effort required on behalf of the Canadian employer in order for the permit to be issued.
In addition to the above advantages, the IEC also allows for repeat participation, as long as different streams are chosen. This ability is especially important for those applicants that may be interested in transitioning to Canadian permanent residency. Specifically, a foreign national may enter Canada on an Open work permit first, and once becoming established in the workplace, can participate again in the program and obtain an employer-specific permit. Provided the individual works for the same employer, and accumulates 1 year of Canadian work experience, the applicant can then obtain bonus points in the Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking Scores (CRS). Usually, considering this program is aimed at youth, this bump in score will usually be 50 points, however this can prove quite significant.
Ultimately, this Canadian work permit option can prove an important first step towards obtaining permanent residency, while at the same time remaining flexible and straightforward. Due to its popularity it does remain a quota-based program, which requires determining eligibility, creating a profile and submitting a complete application. With the appropriate guidance, the process can be quick (processing times of about 7 weeks) and start the journey of a new life in Canada.