International Experience Canada Visas – Are They For You?


In this post I’m going to discuss international experience Canada visas (also known as “working holiday visas”) and why you should consider them in your plans to move to Canada, either temporarily or permanently.

What are International Experience Canada Visas?

International Experience Canada Visas are unique in our immigration. They are designed to allow young people from around the world to live and work in Canada, and experience our culture and people.

These visas are granted through bi-lateral agreements with other countries. These agreements allow Canadian to work and live in other countries under the same or similar rules.

What can an individual do in Canada with an IEC Visa?

An IEC Visa is essentially an open work permit that allows an individual to work in Canada in any occupation and for any employer. They are unlike a work permit in that they are not tied to an employer and the applicant does not have to show any particular skills to qualify.

For example, many workers at the Whistler ski destination and the Alberta oil patch are foreign workers working under an IEC Visa.

How does one qualify for an IEC Visa?

Requirements for an IEC Visa vary depending on the country you are in, as each bi-lateral agreement is negotiated invidually. I’ve provided a link below for more information on the IEC program.

Generally, individuals must be 18 years of age through 30 years of age, unmarried with no dependents to qualify (however, as mentioned, these can vary depending on the country involved).

The individual can not be otherwise inadmissible (i.e., serious criminal or medical issues).

Can IEC Visas be renewed once in Canada?

No, IEC Visas can not be renewed. However – depending on the country involved – an individual may be able to apply for a second IEC Visa while he or she is in Canada (so long as that person does not require a temporary resident visa and still has legal status in Canada).

If that individual qualified for a second IEC Visa and receives it in Canada, he or she will simply have to go to the border to have the visa confirmed.

Will an IEC Visa help with a permanent resident application?

Depending on the length of work and type of work in Canada, it may count toward points for work experience in Canada in a permanent resident application.

There may also be a possibility of a Canada Experience Class application, but this would be rare for an individual with experience under an IEC Visa in practice.  You would need 2 years of experience and experience in the National Occupational Classification 0, A or B.

Click here for more information on working in Canada through an International Experience Visa.

About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile