On November 14, it was announced that Canada had come to a new agreement with Italy that gives youth more opportunities when applying for international work and travel experience under the International Experience Canada Program. The new agreement between the two nations allows youth, categorized as those aged 18 to 35, to work and travel between the two countries for up to 12 months at a time. Participants can participate in the program twice, which allows for a total of 24 months under the program.

As part of the program expansion, International Co-op and Young Professional immigration streams will be added. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, these new streams will help youth gain international experience abroad.

What is the International Experience Program?

The International Experience Canada Program allows Canadian citizens that are aged 18 to 35 the opportunity to work and travel abroad. The program includes over 30 countries that have entered into agreements with Canada and expedites the process by which its applicants can receive a visa to work in or travel in one of the countries.

There are a wide variety of countries from all over the world that participate in the program, including many countries from the European Union, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, Chile, and more. A full list of the participating nations can be found on the Canadian Government website.

These agreements between Canada and the other participating countries are reciprocal, so citizens of those countries can come to Canada to work or travel under the same sort of program. Further, through the agreements under the International Experience Program, work permits for Canadians who want to work abroad are easier to obtain, more flexible, less expensive, and processed more quickly than work permits applied for under other programs.

Applying Under the International Experience Program 

The Canadian government has laid out a series of steps and recommendations for potential applicants to complete in order to apply for the International Experience Program.

Researching Life in a Different Country

First, the potential applicant has to do some research on which country they would like to use the International Experience Program to visit or work in. It is recommended that potential applicants research available jobs in the country and the cost of living.

Determining Eligibility for a Work Permit

Next, the applicant needs to review the particular country they have chosen to ensure that they would be eligible for a work permit in that country. Although the reciprocal agreements of the International Experience Program make it easier for applicants to obtain work permits, obtaining a work permit is not guaranteed. The countries that participate in the program may have different conditions for obtaining a work permit. These conditions can include the age of the applicant, their residency, financial status, duration of their stay in the country, and other work restrictions based on the potential type of employment in the destination country.

If an applicant is eligible for a work permit, they must decide which type of work permit to apply for, depending on the destination country’s rules. An open work permit, referred to within the International Experience Program as a “working holiday”, allows the holder to work for any employer, in more than one location and does not require an offer of employment in order to apply. An employer-specific work permit requires the applicant to have an offer of employment before application and can mandate where the applicant works, how long they can work, the type of work they can do, and the employer that they work for. Each country will have different requirements and may not offer both types of work permits, so it is important for applicants to research which permits are offered in their destination of choice.

Gathering the Required Documentation

Once an applicant has decided on which work permit is appropriate for them, they have to gather the appropriate documentation. Most applications require the applicant to show proof of funds to cover expenses when the applicant arrives, while the applicant finds work (on an open work permit), and to pay for the applicant’s return ticket. Other required documents usually include proof of medical insurance and a copy of the applicant’s passport. Some countries may require other documents, such as the applicant’s birth certificate, a criminal history record check, a medical exam, or photos of the applicant. 

After these steps are completed, the applicant can finally complete and submit their application. Again, each country will have a different application process with varying requirements, so it is important to follow the specific directions closely in order to ensure the best chance of an application being approved.

Opening Doors for Future Immigration Through the International Experience Canada Program

As a result of the reciprocal nature of the program, foreign nationals can come to Canada under roughly the same terms as Canadians visiting other countries. The most flexible way applicants can come to Canada is on a working holiday, which is essentially an open work permit. Alternatively, the Young Professionals category is for employer-specific work permits and is less flexible than a working holiday.

There are further options available for citizens of countries that have agreements with Canada for youth mobility programs. Citizens of countries that do not have agreements with Canada may still be able to apply for the International Experience Canada Program with the help of some recognized organizations.

Some of the work that participants do in Canada could help them immigrate to Canada on a more permanent basis following the term of their International Experience permit. Participants could apply for another work permit or try and obtain permanent residence with express entry. Some express entry programs require Canadian work experience, and the International Experience Canada Program helps provide that to its participants.

Contact Garson Immigration Law for Comprehensive Advice on Canadian Immigration & Work Experience

Garson Immigration Law is passionate about helping potential newcomers to Canada obtain temporary or permanent residence through work and study permits, visitor visas, family sponsorships, express entry, and business immigration processes. Led by David Garson, a recognized leader of immigration law in Canada, we provide robust legal advice and creative solutions to secure the best path forward for our clients. To schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced immigration lawyers, call 416-321-2860 or contact us online.

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