What is the change? Canada has overhauled its International Experience Canada program so that candidates will be invited to apply for a limited number of spots rather than be awarded them on a first-come, first-served basis.

What does the change mean? The change will apply to all three IEC streams: Working Holiday, Young Professionals and International Co-op. The overhaul is designed to make the program fairer by awarding work permit applications on a random basis (Working Holiday) or based on the quality of the application (Young Professionals and International Co-op), rather than based on which applicants applied first.

  • Implementation time frame: The changes took effect Nov. 21.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits issued through the IEC program.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for work permits through the IEC program.
  • Impact on processing times: No significant impact. Current processing times are averaging about eight weeks.
  • Next steps: Foreign nationals can learn more about submitting a profile on this website.

Background: The IEC program is available to Canadian citizens who want to travel and work abroad and to foreign nationals who want to travel and work in Canada. The program stems from bilateral agreements between Canada and other countries and is generally (though not always) available to applicants between the ages of 18 and 35. Work permits issued through the program are valid for up to two years.

Spots are limited, however, and, particularly in the Working Holiday stream, quotas often would be reached within minutes of opening.

Under the new system, applicants complete an online profile and are placed into any of the three pools for which they are eligible. Canada then issues invitations to apply, whereupon candidates have 10 days to decide whether they want to accept the invitation. If they accept, they have 20 days to complete and submit an online work permit application.

BAL Analysis: The changes may have the most impact on sectors such as tourism and hospitality. Businesses that hire foreign nationals who come to Canada through the program should evaluate whether they need to change recruiting or hiring practices in light of the changes.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact