International Experience Canada

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International Experience Canada offers British citizens from 18 to 30 years of age the opportunity to do any kind of work, anywhere in Canada, for up to 24 months. This is a bilateral arrangement between Canada and each participating country, where the options mirror each other - the equivalent in the other direction is the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. The bilateral agreement allows for 5,000 citizens of the UK and Canada to go to the other country each year, but the last two years, Canada have unilaterally added an additional 2,000 spaces, meaning 7,000 Brits were able to go.

Before 2016, the application process for IEC was first-come-first-served, and the UK quota for the year was normally fully allocated within half an hour of the program opening. In 2016, they created a new system of pools, where anyone eligible can submit their details, and every few weeks a lottery is performed on the numbers in the pool. This unfortunately means that you cannot plan to go with friends or partners, but if you want to travel with someone else, you simply have to hope that you both get drawn. There are typically 2-3,000 people undrawn, and unable to go when the pools close each year.

The IEC program normally opens in the winter, but the timing varies - it could be as early as October or as late as March, with December being common. The pools typically close in August-September of any given year.

A common question comes from people unsure if they want to go (or already decided not to in a previous year) and wanting to go again in a future year. The two-year permits are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and you cannot get another one unless you had another citizenship from another IEC-participating country (eg if you are a UK-Irish dual national, you can go twice, once on each passport). If you had previously had one one-year IEC permit (pre-2015, when the UK switched to two years), you can go for one final two-year participation if you are otherwise eligible (eg still aged under 31 for UK citizens).

There are clearly laid out requirements for participating in IEC, and you *must read them*. By participating you agree to things like showing up with the minimum $2500 required, and to purchasing travel insurance for the full time that you want a work permit. An amazing number of people either complain that they were turned around for not having that, or want to know how to extend the permit because it was issued short when they only arrived with 3 months, or a year (in that situation, the work permit cannot be extended). Since you cannot submit the application without agreeing to those requirements, you don't get any sympathy from border officers if you don't comply with them!

Although IEC is a Federal program, you can go anywhere in Canada (including Quebec). There are no restrictions on the work you can do (although if you want to work in healthcare or with children, you must have a medical exam), other than the blanket ban on sex work. Unlike Australia, there's no requirement to spend a certain time picking fruit!

For more information see the International Experience Canada for UK citizens for British citizens.

Some choose to go through a support organisation such as BUNAC - but there is nothing to stop you applying directly.


Here is an example below of the experience of a BE forum member and BUNAC applicant Fernie: (note that this predates the currently-used random draw applications, and modern police check requirements, as well as new two-year permit).

Hello folks, hope I've posted this information in the correct place. To all BUNAC applicants and those who are still thinking about it. I returned to the UK from one year BUNAC visa OCT 2008. Firstly get your application in very early, BUNAC start taking applications from around the beginning of December for the following year. Phone BUNAC and get on the program, if you are at UNI and graduate this year, go on the Student program, if you are 30 or below at time of application go on the non student program. After you have phoned BUNAC (same day) Go to your local police station with ID and hand across ten crisp pounds and get your Criminal record check done. You must tick the box for the National Data Base, although you can also tick the box for the local one. If you know already that you have a criminal conviction save yourself the ten pounds. Although there may be some very few exceptions, if your National Data Base check has anything on it, you most likely be considered inadmissible to Canada.

Do not book flights, but start researching where in Canada you want to go, and what jobs you would do. Go to your local book store and buy loads of books on Canada, I recommend the Lonely Planet as an excellent travelling friend. Go to your local outdoor supply store and buy: Good rucksack, good sleeping bag and medical kit. Remember that its your rucksack, you pack it, you carry it. You need clean jocks, socks and upper body clothes, and a spare pair of jeans. Buy good quality boots (timberlands or similar) which will walk you round Canada in all weather conditions. Ladies do not pack two suitcases of gear, you will never wear it and Canada is a respectable country; that mini skirt you wear on a Saturday night in the UK will look slightly out of place in Yellowknife. Get your CV written up and take note, that Canadian CV's are called Resumes and are one page long. Research job sites in Canada to get advise.

The BUNAC system takes approx eight weeks to complete, and you need to send your Criminal check, CV and references back to BUNAC with your fee. Follow their process it is very simple. When you know you have your visa letter in your hand book flights and follow the process. Make sure you buy a return ticket, some airlines allow you to change the return date and would advise you book with such a company. Book your return for 364 days after you arrive, your visa doesn't give you the 1 year work experience that some immigration programs require, although there may be options available.

The BUNAC system of arrival is excellent, you go on a group flight with other like minded BUNACers, and arrive on mass. BUNAC have offices (SWOP) in the major cities, and certainly those where the group flights arrive. You spend the first night in a hostel and then go on mass to various meetings, as a welcome and to explain where you are, what you need to know and what happens next. You will be taken to the local Social Insurance office and will be issued with a SIN number and card. From here on, you are in Canada.

I personally went independently of the BUNAC flights. I bought my own insurance, worldnomads, sent BUNAC cover details and signed a waiver. Booked flights from Glasgow to Vancouver. And saved like a dog. Although there is a minimum amount of money you require to land in Canada, take way more. Two to three thousand to be safe.

I arrived in Vancouver, with my working visa, went through passport control and answered the brief questions honestly. Was sent through to the Immigration line. Be prepared to stand from between one and five hours to get to an Immigration officer. Once again answer the questions honestly. A small note to my fellow Brits, you are in a new Country, and until you pass through Immigration that flight you arrived on can still take you back. Do not get loaded on the plane, be cheeky or act the fool. To call your folks back home to say come and pick me up at your British departure airport would be a tad embarrassing.

I then explored the airport, and bought a phone card, phoned home. I took a chance and used the excellent visitor information desk at the airport and got a cheap hotel as close to the Social Insurance office as possible. (Although you should have researched the location and know where your going to. I then paid for the bus to downtown Vancouver, booked into my hotel, (I didn't fancy a hostel on my first night). Explore your new city but remember that you look like a tourist and be aware of others around you. (Use the safety deposit box in your hotel) If you are venturing out to the bars etc. take photo ID with you, regardless of how old you look.

The following day I went to the SIN office and waited in line, I received my temporary card and was on my way. If you know were you are heading to then the card will be sent onwards, but explain to the officer.

I then went back to my hotel, packed my bags and off I went. I personally went to Vancouver Island, to stay initially with friends, and my SIN card arrived two days later. Went to a local bank, to open an account, deposited my cash, and was given a temporary ATM card.(very handy) My proper ATM card arrived a week later. I bought a pay as you go mobile, be careful of different deals, it is not like the UK and you pay to receive calls on some tariffs.

Packed my bags again and travelled back to the main land, and worked and travelled around Canada. Awesome trip, work hard, and stay in touch with people you meet and phone home regularly (phone card). You would be amazed how many contacts you will make and how often they can come in handy. Enjoy Canada, then come back as I have to sort out moving back properly, and legally. Those contacts I mentioned earlier. Fernie

Note, your IEC work permit is valid for two years only.

A common question is whether those on IEC can benefit from Implied Status in order to continue working if they apply for a new work permit before their IEC permit expires. The answer is NO, not under any circumstances can an IEC permit holder benefit from implied status, with the exception of implied status as a visitor. For more details, read: Implied Status after an IEC Work Permit ends