If you would like to travel to Canada and work and travel there, you should apply for IEC. IEC, or the International Experience Canada is used every year by thousands of young people from over 30 countries in the world to go to Canada and gain professional experience. The program allows for a longer stay in Canada, up to 2 years in some cases.

When applying for the program, you will need a valid passport issued by your country of citizenship, health insurance, and just a bit more to make sure that you are eligible. When it comes to eligible candidates, they are drawn from a pool of candidates regularly. Once you have received your ITA – Invitation to Apply – you are just a work permit away from setting foot in Canada.

IEC Application Process

So, IEC is a very popular program, and to join it, you need to fulfill just a few prerequisites. When it comes to the IEC application process itself, there are a few steps that you need to carry out, but the procedure is rather simple with relatively short processing time, for as long as you have employment by a Canadian company.

Even if you do not, there is a separate stream within the program itself, that allows you to go to Canada and seek employment yourself, for as long as the work is legal and can contribute to your work experience and professional development. So, let’s check out the IEC: how to apply and how to get your work permit:

Create IEC Profile

Once you have decided where you would like to go and spend the next six months to two years of your life, you will need to check out which immigration pathway would serve your needs the best. There are three basic immigration options when traveling to Canada with the IEC:

  • the Working Holiday Visa
  • Young Professionals
  • International Co-op

First, you need to choose the country and which stream you would like to join. We explain them all in detail further on, so that you would know which of them applies to you. Once you know the country that you would like to go to, if you are a Canadian citizen, or once you have established the eligibility requirements to travel from your country to Canada, it is time to create the IEC profile.

When you start to create an IEC profile, you will notice that you need to enter your personal information as well as decide which stream you would like to join. Please note that only the Working Holiday stream does not need a valid job offer – resulting in an open work permit that you can use to work in any workplace in Canada.

Obtain a Request to Apply

Once you have submitted your application (and this is only the initial submission), you will need to wait for some time for your application to be processed and for it to join the pool of all other immigration applications. When it comes to Canadian immigration, you should know that it is not too complex, but the eligibility criteria have to be satisfied and you will need to be patient. The processing time for the IEC Canada is around 6 weeks, but it changes daily based on how many applications there are in the system.

When it comes to the processing time itself, the time you need to show up to the Visa Office or a Collection Center to give your biometrics is not included in the processing time itself. As this may be a bit long for most applicants, we always advise that you prepare all the documents necessary for the immigration applications in advance and be ready to send in all the other documents to continue the immigration process.

Accept the Request for Applications

Once you have received your Invitation to Apply, you will also need to accept it. There is a 10-day wait period for you to do so. You can either accept it or not. If the ten days have passed, you will need to reapply for a new Invitation to Apply. As this wastes time and money, it is best to check your email and IEC profile daily, to make sure you have enough time to think it through.

Once you have applied for the IEC (accepted the Invitation to Apply), you have 20 days to submit all the documents, including proof of funds (CAD2,500 for the settlement period, proof of health insurance, and proof of having enough funds to finance your return ticket home. When it comes to this immigration pathway, the same 20 days will also have to be used for you to apply for the work permit.

Apply for a Work Permit

So, since the minute you click on the ACCEPT when you get your ITA, you will have just about 20 days to make the complete application for the work permit as well. Normally, the processing time for a work permit is 7 weeks at the time of writing this article, but since this is a part of the IEC processing time, it will take a bit shorter. Many Canadian immigration options prioritize some forms of study and work permits. When you apply for the work permit, there will be other documents that you need to submit.

Have a Work Permit

Once you get your work permit, that’s about it, you can start planning your trip. Your IEC work permit in Canada will be issued to you at the Port of Entry, as it is with many other similar permits and for similar programs. This is a common point of confusion, but you should know that Canada issues some documents at the port of Entry, rather than at the consular office as some other countries do.

When you arrive in Canada, you will need to show the following documents:

  • Your valid passport
  • Proof of funds (CAD2,500)
  • Your return ticket or enough funds to purchase one (outside of the CAD2,500)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Copies of documents you have submitted for your work permit (including the IMM 5707 Guide – Family Information)
  • Your Port-of-Entry Letter

What Is IEC?

The International Experience Canada (IEC) program allows young people to gain work experience in Canada. It provides opportunities to develop professionally, improve language skills, expand networks, and gain perspective by living abroad.

To participate, you must have health insurance and prove you have sufficient funds. These requirements ensure you can support yourself while in Canada.

The IEC program has straightforward eligibility criteria compared to other immigration pathways. This makes it very popular for temporary stays. Through international work placements, participants can gain skills and experience to boost their career prospects when returning home. The IEC is an excellent option for young people seeking short-term Canadian work permits.

Who Can Apply for IEC?

You can apply for the IEC program as long as you satisfy the eligibility criteria (discussed below) and come from one of the participating countries. As the program is carried out as a result of bilateral agreements between Canada and other participating countries, coming from one and having their passport and citizenship is a must. Being a permanent resident, but not a citizen of one is not enough. We will see which countries allow which IEC pathway later on.

Different EIC Programs

As there are different types of young people, who would like to travel for different reasons and with different travel purposes, three different IEC pathways have emerged. They are likely to satisfy almost everyone’s needs and they are as follows:

  1. Working Holiday Visa
  2. Young Professionals
  3. International Co-Op

Work Holiday Visas are the most popular as they are the only pathway that gives you an open work permit and the ability to truly see the entire country of Canada. The maximum validity period is up to two years and you can change employers and places of living as often as you want/can. Let’s consider each of these in more detail:

Working Holiday Visa

A Working Holiday Visa is the primary pathway that the IEC program gives to students who would like to go to Canada. This program allows you to travel throughout the country and to change employers as often as you like – which is something that the other two programs do not allow you to do. Unlike a closed work permit, an open work permit is issued here, and it gives you the ability to travel to Canada even if you do not have a job offer and to secure the job for yourself once you are in the country.

This program is intended for all who do not have a valid job offer or a job offer at all, for those who want to work two or more jobs, and who would like to move, or travel and work. The last option, in our opinion, is the only balanced reason why you should travel to Canada and join the program. This is one of the best ways young people can develop themselves both privately and professionally. Some countries allow you to travel to Canada using this working holiday visa pathway of the IEC.

Check Out How To Get an IEC Working Holiday Visa:

Young Professionals

The Young Professionals pathway is an IEC pathway that has been designed for all who would like to improve themselves professionally. Because this is the main aim of the program, you are issued a closed work permit, which allows you to work for a single employer, in a single location, and for a fixed period. If the employer has multiple locations where the work is carried out (for example, offices in different cities), you can still work for them, but each office has to be named in the contract and their application for the program.

This program is for all who have a valid job offer, for a job that is related to their work and education, and for those seeking paid work – no volunteer work is accepted. With this in mind, let’s consider the countries that allow you to travel to Canada using this pathway:

CountryDuration of Stay
AustraliaUp to 2 Years
AustriaUp to 1 Year
ChileUp to 1 Year
Costa RicaUp to 1 Year
CroatiaUp to 1 Year
EstoniaUp to 1 Year
FranceUp to 2 Years
GermanyUp to 1 Year
GreeceUp to 1 Year
IrelandUp to 2 Years
LatviaUp to 1 Year
LithuaniaUp to 1 Year
LuxembourgUp to 1 Year
MexicoUp to 1 Year
NetherlandsUp to 1 Year
NorwayUp to 1 Year
PolandUp to 1 Year
PortugalUp to 2 Years
SlovakiaUp to 1 Year
SloveniaUp to 1 Year
SpainUp to 1 Year
SwedenUp to 1 Year
SwitzerlandUp to 18 Months
TaiwanUp to 1 Year
UkraineUp to 1 Year

International Co-op Internship

An international co-op internship program is a program that allows you to travel to Canada to gain international experience while doing an internship for your college or University. The job still has to be in the NOC-categorization, you need to have a student status, and the work has to be related to your field of expertise. This way, you need to choose wisely, and sometimes, even your institution of higher education can help you with this. Here are the countries that support the International Co-Op pathway of the Canada IEC:

CountryDuration of Stay
AustraliaUp to 2 Years on the first visit
AustriaUp to 6 Months
ChileUp to 1 Year
Costa RicaUp to 1 Year
CroatiaUp to 1 Year
EstoniaUp to 1 Year
FranceUp to 1 Year
GermanyUp to 1 Year
GreeceUp to 1 Year
IrelandUp to 1 Year
LatviaUp to 1 Year
LithuaniaUp to 1 Year
LuxembourgUp to 1 Year
MexicoUp to 1 Year
NorwayUp to 1 Year
PolandUp to 1 Year
PortugalUp to 2 Years
SlovakiaUp to 1 Year
SloveniaUp to 1 Year
SpainUp to 1 Year
SwedenUp to 1 Year
SwitzerlandUp to 18 Months
TaiwanUp to 1 Year
UkraineUp to 1 Year

Eligibility Criteria for International Experience Canada

IEC eligibility criteria are not strict, but they all have to be followed through. If you have issues with any of these, you can contact immigration consultant partners and see what do you need to correct to get the IEC work permit for individuals and to have a valid work permit for the duration of your stay in this immigration program category. In any case, here are the eligibility criteria for any of the IEC pathways, and please bear in mind that you need to check each of these with the local consular office or representatives before applying for the program itself:

  • You need to be a citizen of one of the participating countries
  • You need to have a passport issued by that country
  • You need to be between the ages of 18 and 35, and sometimes 30, depending on the country
  • You need to have CAD2,500 Proof of funds IEC until you get your first paycheck
  • You need to have a round-trip ticket or enough funds to purchase the return ticket on top of the CAD2,500 of settlement funds
  • You need to have healthcare insurance by a Canadian insurer
  • You need to be admissible to Canada, both on medical and criminal grounds
  • You need to have no accompanying dependent, such as a child or a common law partner
  • You need to pay the processing fees, the biometric fee and all other fees that you may need to pay in your own country to gather the documents that you may need

EIC Online Application

IEC online application is carried out using your IRCC (Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada) account, which you will use to make the IEC account. Here, you leave information about yourself and then submit it, to be able to enter the pool of candidates waiting to be drawn. The draws are made regularly, according to the program capacity, and you will only receive an ITA when it is time to make your work permit application.

Required Documents for EIC Work Permit Application

When this happens, you will have to accept the ITA – Invitation to Apply. You will have 10 days to do so, and you will need to finish the entire process of submitting the actual documents and the application for the work permit within 20 days. As this may be a short period, you may want to consider getting all the documents early, to be able to apply early as well. The two periods, of 10 and 20 days, add up to about a month, and having all the documents ready can make the processing time for a month shorter – bringing you closer to Canada to begin with. Let’s consider the documents that you will need:

Police Certificates

When it comes to the police certificates, will be used to determine your criminal admissibility to Canada. If you have been convicted of a crime or if there is an ongoing police investigation against you, you will be deemed criminally inadmissible. So, you will need to prepare police certificates from your own country of citizenship, and all the countries where you have resided for longer than six months ever since you were 18 years of age.


Your CV or Resume will be a necessary document when looking for a job in Canada. Canada has its resume style and you will need to follow the style to make your application more probable to score a job in Canada. You can find the information on how to write one online.


When it comes to the passport, you will need to have a valid passport. The passport does not only need to be valid for the duration of your stay in Canada, but it also needs to be valid for the entire duration of your stay there. If your passport’s validity period is shorter than the program that you are applying for, you will only get the work permit for the duration of your passport’s validity. If you would like to stay for the maximum duration of the program, you will need to take out a new passport. Your local municipality office or police representative (whoever issues the passport in your country) can help you with the process. There will be fees to be paid.

Digital Photo

You will also need to upload a digital photo of your face. The photo should be passport style and it will need to have a stamp on the back, confirming that that is a photo of you. It will also need to have a date when it was taken on the back. It is best to go to a professional photoheating booth/agency to finish this. You will need to specify that you need the pictures taken for application for a Canadian visa so that they can adjust the settings for the application.

The photo frame should be 35mm X 45mm, and your head size on the photo should be between 31mm and 36mm. It has to be at least 420 X 540 pixels. If you already have a photo that has been taken before, make sure that you get it professionally scanned – a minimum scanning resolution of 600 PPI should be used, and the file size should be no smaller than 60 kB. It has to be a colour photo, and a colour scanner scanning it.

Family Information

You will also need the IMM5707 form – Family Information. Here, you need to enter the details of your family, common-law partner, spouse, conjugal partner, siblings, children, parents, and grandparents. Ideally, it should contain information on your grandchildren as well, but considering the age limits of the program, this is an unlikely scenario.

Program-Specific Documents

There are other documents that you may be asked to submit. These documents may differ depending on the country that you are coming from and the program pathway that you are taking. Here is a breakdown:

  • For the International Co-Op applicants, you will need to have:
    • Proof of school registration from your educational institution
    • Your internship agreement with the employer, which should contain the information on your position title, the description of your work duties, the start and the end date of your internship, the address of your internship location, the employer’s contact information, and a letter of explanation from your educational institution showcasing that the work you will be doing has to do with your educational profile
  • For those applying through a recognized organization, you will need an acceptance letter from them
  • the Volontariat International en Enterprise, you will need an official certificate from Business France, which should have information on both you and your employer


Can You Do IEC Twice?

Whether you can do the IEC twice or not depends on the country that you would like to go to. It is important to note that some countries only allow you to participate once, while others allow multiple participations, but always with a different program. When it comes to the program itself, this is a great chance to travel and get to know Canada – so join as many times as you would like.

How Much Does IEC Cost?

The IEC is not an expensive program, but beware that you will need significant financial funds to make it. First of all, you will need CAD2,500 to bring with you to Canada, to last you until your first paycheck. Then, you will also have to pay the IEC fee (CAD161) and the biometrics fee (CAD85). You will also need to pay the open work permit holder fee (CAD100).

What Should the Employer Put Under Duration of Employment for IEC?

When making an application for the IEC, your employer will also need to enter some details of the workplace, so that the immigration officers can check the work offer and compare it to your details if need be. Although the visa process does not depend on this type of information, as you can get an open work permit, the information entered later on should be valid. The employer should put how long they plan to keep you employed – be it to the end of your work permit or before the expiry date – but not longer.

How Can I Obtain a Work Permit from IEC for PR?

You can use the work experience from the IEC program to apply for a new work permit. This will have to be done with your Canada working holiday visa application, your CEC application, or any other type of application for a visa that will provide you with a work permit. With this in mind, it is easy to see how the IEC program can be beneficial in the long run.

How to Continue Working with an IEC Visa that is About to Expire and Less Than One Year of Work Experience?

If you would like to keep working even after your visa is about to expire, you need to submit a paper application for a visa extension and the same for your work permit. When it comes to the extension, it can only be done under special circumstances and you will have to check yourself, as each extension request is reviewed separately.

How Can My Wife and Kids Come to Canada if I Acquire An IEC?

Your wife and children can come to Canada on their own. As someone who has an IEC, you will not be able to bring your family to Canada, but will rather have to be on your own, while they may pursue some other ways to get there. However, if you can use the IEC experience to get a work permit and a PR status, you can use family sponsorship programs to help them migrate to Canada.

Final Thoughts

The Canada IEC program is a great program to join, especially if you would like to improve your education, language knowledge, as well as your professional experience, and life. The program intake is limited and this is a reciprocal program, meaning that applicants from partner countries can enter Canada and vice versa. Since the program is limited, it is always best to apply early and secure a spot for yourself.