Changes to the International Experience Class Application Process



Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) maintains what is referred to as the ‘International Experience Class’ (IEC) program. The IEC is a broad term encompassing three specified work programs available for young people in countries with whom Canada has binational agreements. In very general terms, the three programs are:

  • Working Holiday
    • For young people (typically 18-35), with no particular other selection criteria
  • Young Professionals
    • For recent graduates with an offer of employment in Canada
  • Co-op Internships
    • For students intending to complete a work placement or internship in Canada, pursuant to their academic curriculum

Though the programs are different, their availability is generally limited to quotas set each year for each program/country, and the term of employment in Canada may vary, to a maximum of 24 months in some cases.

Besides being of value in and of themselves for prospective applicants, these programs are sometimes useful tools for corporations seeking to hire a foreign worker who may otherwise not qualify for a work permit.

Procedural Difficulties

Until now, the application process was simply based on a first come-first served approach. In view of the quotas, this meant that only a select few who were able to register immediately after the program opened each year, would be able to take advantage of the program. (The quotas would often close within literally just a few minutes.)

The Changes

Recognizing the inequity of the first come- first served approach, CIC will be changing the IEC application system. In many ways, the new system will mirror the Express Entry permanent residence system where applicants are pooled first, then selected. This is intended to remove any advantage that mere speed may provide. Henceforth, the IEC programs will be changed, as follows:

  • Applicants for each of the three IEC programs will apply for entry into a pool or pools for selection (‘first come’ will no longer be the sole basis of selection)
  • Applicants will be placed into all possible pools for which they may qualify
  • Qualified applicants in each pool will then be selected
  • If an applicant is selected, he/she will receive an ‘invitation to apply’ (ITA – as is the case in the Express Entry system) for a work permit
  • For ITAs under the Working Holiday program, invitation will be through random selection
  • If an applicant receives an ITA, he/she will have only 10 days to accept the invitation (failing which, the invitation will be nullified)
  • Thereafter, once acceptance is confirmed, each applicant would have 20 days to submit their complete work permit application (online)


For employers, there may be pros and cons when seeking applicants under the IEC, particularly the Working Holiday program. Previously, on one hand, though it was difficult to register, once indeed registered, you knew the matter was to be processed. On the other hand, if you weren’t quick enough on the draw, you never even got to register. Now, these issues have essentially been reversed. Now, speed may not help you, but you just won’t know if you can utilize an IEC program until you get an ITA.

Reliance on the IEC as a general corporate strategy may be somewhat risky given the unpredictability of the system – particularly vis-à-vis Worker Holiday program applicants. However, corporations will still be able to take advantage of the program if and when possible, and should perhaps focus on the Young Professionals or Co-op, where either of these is viable.

The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.

This post originally appeared on Kranc Associates. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Benjamin A. Kranc

Benjamin A. Kranc is senior principal of Kranc Associates, a leading Canadian corporate immigration law firm. He has many years of experience assisting clients in connection with Canadian immigration and business issues. Ben is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Immigration Law. He is also on the ‘Who’s Who Legal’ list of foremost practitioners in Canadian corporate immigration, as well as rated as AV Preeminent® in a Martindale-Hubbell peer review. Ben has spoken at numerous conferences, seminars, and information sessions – both for professional organizations and private groups – about issues in Canadian immigration law, and has also taught immigration law at Seneca College in Toronto. In addition, Ben has written extensively. He is the author of a leading text on Canadian immigration law entitled “North American Relocation Law” (Thomson Reuters) and contributing immigration author to the “The Human Resources Advisor” (First Reference Books). Ben can be contacted at (416) 977-7500 ext. 226, or

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.