What is the change? Portugal will join Canada’s International Experience Canada Program through a bilateral arrangement that was signed Wednesday.

What does the change mean? Through the agreement, each year up to 2,000 Canadian nationals and up to 2,000 Portuguese nationals between the ages of 18 and 35 may work and travel in each other’s countries through the Working Holiday, International Co-op and Young Professionals streams of the IEC Program. Additional information on the IEC Program is available here for Canadians and here for nationals of countries participating in the program.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of Canada and Portugal between the ages of 18 and 35.
  • Business impact: The addition of Portugal to the IEC Program may provide a new option for Canadian employers to hire eligible Portuguese nationals and for Portuguese employers to hire eligible Canadian nationals. Work permits issued through the IEC Program are valid for two years and do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

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. Portugal joins 32 other countries and territories already participating in the program.

The IEC Program is divided into three streams:

  • Working Holiday. Allows for temporary work while on holiday or vacation internationally. Participants are eligible to apply for an open work permit that allows them to work for any employer to subsidize their stay as they travel.
  • International Co-op. Allows students who intend to complete an international work placement or internship to fulfill part of their academic curriculum. Participants in the internship category are eligible to apply for an employer-specific work permit to help them gain targeted experience in their field of study.
  • Young Professionals. Allows those looking to gain international working experience to apply for an employer-specific work permit that will help them gain targeted experience in their profession or field of study.

BAL Analysis: While the IEC Program offers a limited number of work permits each year, expanding the program to include Portugal may provide a new avenue for Canadian and Portuguese employers seeking to hire young foreign nationals from each other’s country.

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.

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