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Canada Govt to allow more international youth to work and travel under IEC program

© Tourism Nova Scotia / Photographer: Acorn Art & Photography

Canada’s government will be expanding the applicant pool for the upcoming year of its International Experience Canada (IEC) program. They announced a program opening date of January 9, 2023, at a press conference in Banff, Alberta on December 1, 2022.

The IEC program allows youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years living in any of Canada’s 36 partnering countries to work and travel for up to two years in this country and vice versa. On January 9th, 2023, its application scale will increase by 20 per cent or nearly 15,000 additional spots. This will make it possible for “nearly 90,000 candidates … to work and travel in Canada, including Francophone youth, which will help employers fill labour gaps, including for seasonal work opportunities in Canada’s tourism industry.”

In the words of Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, “Our government is helping more international youth to work and travel in Canada, effectively helping employers, most of those in the tourism industry, find the workers they need. By giving youth the opportunity of international travel and work experience, we are strengthening our economy and helping our businesses succeed, particularly in places like Banff that need seasonal help.”

Ultimately, this upcoming IEC program change allows Canada to further advance two highly sought-after goals: helping Canadian employers get the workers they need and helping “youth explore new cultures, languages, and societies, all while developing life skills and improving their job prospects for the future.”

The IEC program contains three streams:

Working Holiday: IEC participants in this stream “receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country” as a means of “supporting their travels.”

International Co-op (Internship): Participants in this IEC stream are provided with an employer-specific work permit. This targeted work permit enables students to gain focused work experience in their field of study.

Young Professionals: Participants in this stream of the IEC program also receive an employer-specific work permit, like those in the international co-op stream. However, beyond allowing these students to “gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study”, the experience acquired by these students is also aimed at aiding their ability to pursue their desired career path.