IEC & COVID-19: our questions to the Government of Canada (May 19, 2021)

Published: 19-05-2021



The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office in Paris has agreed to answer some of our questions regarding International Experience Canada in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis. We thank them for their availability.

The information provided are correct as of the date and time they were submitted for publication (May 19, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.).

What types of jobs can be accepted for a Working Holiday permit application?

First of all, a reminder that travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are still in place for all travel to Canada. As a result, most people cannot enter Canada at this time because these restrictions stop all non-essential (discretionary) travel to Canada.

On the travel restrictions in Canada page, you will find an online tool to help you determine if you may be allowed to enter Canada at this time. The final determination regarding entry and quarantine is made by a government representative at the port of entry, based on the information presented to them at the time of entry into Canada.

This tool should be used very regularly, as there are frequent updates as the situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

For the 2021 season of the International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative, in order to respect the current travel restrictions, only participants in the three IEC categories with a letter of introduction for the point of entry and a valid job offer are authorized to travel to Canada.

The eligibility requirements remain unchanged for the International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals categories.

For the Working Holiday category, you must – until further notice – have a job offer in order to receive an invitation and be able to submit an application, following the instructions available on this page.

Regarding the type of job (position and level), its duration and the number of working hours, this requirement has been introduced to minimize the risk of being turned away by a border services officer when arriving in Canada. When the officer reviews the details of your job offer, among other elements, he or she will determine whether your travel can be considered non-discretionary and make a final decision on your entry.
In this context, unpaid employment or volunteering cannot be accepted.
Also, it is important to note that invitations to apply as well as work permit applications under IEC are processed in Canada.

What start date can employers indicate in the job offer?

There is no rule regarding the start date of the job offer. However, keep in mind that the non-discretionary nature of the stay in Canada will be assessed by an officer upon arrival. Also, a fourteen-day quarantine is required. It therefore seems logical to travel to Canada 14 days before the start date of the job.
The announced processing time for IEC is 8 weeks from the reception of a complete application (including biometrics).

Do candidates currently living in Canada need a job offer to get a Working Holiday permit?

Yes, for the 2021 IEC season, all candidates in the Working Holiday category must provide a valid job offer in order to apply for a work permit. People who are already in Canada with another type of work permit can submit proof (including all the required elements) that they have a job in order to receive an invitation and be able to submit their work permit application in this category.

Are the invitations to apply for a Working Holiday permit sent randomly in 2021?

Invitations to apply for a work permit are sent on the basis of a job offer that includes these elements:

  • Business’ legal name and business’ operating name;
  • Job title;
  • Physical job location including city and province or territory;
  • Main duties of the job;
  • Expected start date of employment;
  • Expected duration of employment;
  • Employer’s primary contact information;
  • Wage and hours of work (your job offer must meet the minimum wage requirements of the province or territory where you plan to work).

Invitations for the Working Holiday category are not sent randomly at this time. The rounds of invitations take place on a weekly basis.

If candidates provide a non valid job offer, are they notified by email?

As indicated on the page containing the instructions for submitting a job offer in the Working Holiday category, having a job offer does not guarantee that you will receive an invitation to apply for a work permit.
It is not planned to respond to candidates who have sent a job offer to the dedicated email address, with some exceptions. We ask you to be patient. This situation is not much different from previous IEC seasons with random rounds of invitations. Applicants could not know in advance whether they would receive an invitation and sometimes had to wait several weeks.
To avoid overloading the dedicated email inbox, limit yourself to a single email with your valid job offer. Repeat emails do not speed up or improve chances of receiving an invitation to apply. On the contrary, they can cause delays in sending out invitations.

A valid job offer will be necessary for the entire EIC 2021 season?

Yes, that is what is planned, unless the travel restrictions are lifted.

What happens if, once the Working Holiday permit application is accepted, the employer decides not to hire the candidate?

In that case, the candidate will have to look for another job. As indicated on the IEC web site: Only participants with a port of entry letter of introduction and a valid job offer are eligible to travel to Canada right now.
A valid job offer means that your employer wants to hire you when you arrive in Canada and that you will start working after your 14-day quarantine.
The valid job offer is required in order to receive an invitation to apply and also to be able to travel to Canada when the time comes.

Can a candidate go to Canada with their spouse and / or child?

IEC applications are individual. Spouses and children are not granted the right to live, study or work in Canada with a spouse or parent whose application for a work permit with IEC has been approved.

When an IEC participant wants to go to Canada with his or her spouse and children, they must obtain their own work permit (with or without IEC), study permit or visitor status.

The travel restrictions currently in effect mean there are additional steps for spouses and children. Consult the immediate family members page for more information.

If VACs are closed, what are the candidates’ options to give their biometrics?

Information regarding biometrics and submitting the required supporting documentation has been updated. IEC candidates who have received their biometric instruction letter and who cannot meet the 30-day deadline may request an extension if they have a valid reason such as the closing of their visa application centre (VAC).

Do not go to another city or country to provide your biometrics. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in strict restrictions on travel in many countries. In addition, VACs that remain open may become saturated with requests for appointments from outside their geographic area.

For more information: Biometrics – extension.


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