The International Experience Canada (IEC) program, managed by the government of Canada, is an opportunity for youth from 36 partner countries to work and travel in Canada. The program was launched in 2003 as a means to promote international exposure and work experience to the youth of participating nations. The program is accepting applications for its 2023 pool, and has increased the capacity of its program, hoping to welcome tens of thousands of youth from abroad. The opening of the application pool comes following last year’s announcement, that the IEC would be expanding its program intake, allowing close to 90,000 applicants from partner countries the opportunity to work and travel in Canada, in 2023.

The expansion of the IEC program capacity comes at a time when Canada is hoping to welcome more newcomers than ever, with over 800,000 economic immigrants expected to come to the country within the next three years. Youth who gain the requisite amount of work experience in Canada through the IEC may find themselves further eligible for immigration to Canada in the future. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) hopes that the expansion of the program will further help fulfil labor needs in sectors that suffered during the pandemic, most notably in tourism.

How does the IEC program work?

The program works on an “expression of interest / invitation to apply” model, where interested candidates can submit a candidacy profile to the IEC pool. If chosen, these candidates (now applicants), receive invitations to apply for a Canadian work permit. If the application is approved, the applicant receives their work permit under their specific stream and become eligible to enter and work in Canada for the period of their authorized stay. This allows applicants to gain valuable work experience in the country, up to 24 months for most countries.

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