Young and eligible and looking for opportunities in Canada? IEC may be the right match for you

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, the honourable Sean Fraser, recently announced facilitative measures to ease the matchmaking between Canadian employers who are racing to fill a large number of vacancies in certain critical sectors, and many young, talented, and eligible foreign candidates who require authorization to live and work in Canada. We have published a summary of the recently announced measures here (

Though there are many reasonable frustrations related both to setbacks caused by extreme and unexpected events such as COVID and conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as a struggle for IRCC to modernize and adapt to enable processing to keep up with demand, we acknowledge that the Federal Government is signalling the will to listen and adapt to the economic realities of our immigration landscape.

As we regularly receive many inquiries from business regarding young candidates they wish to hire for positions in Canada, we think that the International Experience Class (IEC) program may offer a unique solution for employers to confirm talent and provide the individual with necessary time to qualify for permanent residence.

In summary, the IEC is a well designed and smoothly functioning federal program, which enables young candidates (18 to 35 years of age, inclusive) to qualify for work authorization in Canada for a period of time sufficient to place them in an excellent position to apply for a permanent residency pathway if they so choose. This program may also be an excellent option for American companies who are looking to place their talent in Canada for a year or two while their US immigration status is processed.

As the IEC is available for citizens of countries with which Canada has bilateral agreements permitting the employment of young people, not every country is covered, and there are differences between what is available across these agreements. The best approach is to research what may apply to you and consult with an expert who can guide you though the process. However, some facts we feel are not sufficiently well known, but could be of value to candidates are as follows:

  • IEC is also available to citizens of countries that do not have bilateral agreements with Canada, such as India and Brazil. These candidates would qualify with assistance of third parties, aka Recognized Organizations (ROs), which would serve as an intermediary that offers travel and work support for youth.
  • There are different options for qualification through IEC, including working holiday, international co-op internship, and young professional categories.
  • IEC candidates can get a work permit of up to 2 years, which is sufficient time to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) of the Express Entry program and effectively become more competitive in the pool of candidates.
  • Processing times once the IEC pool is open is relatively short (3 weeks).
  • With the caveat that not all categories receive invitations during each round, for those that do, the chances of successful candidacy are very high as usually the number of participants in the pool is matched by the number of issued invitations.
  • Those with an offer of employment from a Canadian company have an even better chance of receiving an invitation.

Immigration is a deeply personal process, where each applicant’s unique circumstances determine the options and strategies that are best suited for their goals. It is certainly good to have options and to be informed of the many possibilities that may be available. Contact our knowledgeable and experienced team of experts to find out what pathways are possible for you.

If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss your specific circumstances and potential strategies, we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email:;;;;;;;;