The International Co-Op Program, a segment of Canada's International Experience Canada (IEC) initiative, offers post-secondary students an opportunity to gain practical work experience in their field of study. With a focus on structured internships, participants must secure a job offer before applying. The program facilitates personal and professional growth within the dynamic Canadian workforce.
What is the International Co-Op Program?
Canada, renowned for its diverse landscapes and welcoming culture, has long been a preferred destination for young individuals seeking international work experience. Among the several programs facilitating this aspiration, the International Experience Canada (IEC) offers a unique opportunity known as the 'International Co-Op' program, specifically tailored for students eager to delve into the Canadian professional landscape related to their field of study.
The International Co-op (Internship) work permit falls under the umbrella of the IEC program, specifically catering to post-secondary students necessitating a work placement or internship as an integral part of their academic curriculum. As with the general IEC requirements, securing a job offer for a work placement or internship is mandatory before applying. Participants are granted an employer-specific work permit, restricting their employment to the designated employer for the specified duration, ensuring a focused and comprehensive learning experience.
Prospective participants in the International Co-Op program must secure a valid job offer in Canada before their arrival, anchoring them to a specific employer and location for the duration of their stay. Unlike the IEC Working Holiday Visa, this program offers the advantage of a structured work experience, ensuring that participants engage in meaningful, industry-specific roles that align with their educational pursuits.
The program boasts several advantages, making it an enticing option for young talents. Firstly, the demand for these permits remains within manageable limits, increasing the likelihood of eligible candidates securing a place. Additionally, in some countries, previous participants in the IEC Working Holiday program can pursue a second stint under the Young Professionals or International Co-Op category, offering them extended time in Canada for further professional growth and development.
As the 2023 IEC season concluded on October 23, young aspirants can eagerly await the program's reopening in 2024, poised to embark on a transformative journey of personal and professional development in the heart of Canada's vibrant job market.
Eligibility for the International Co-Op Program
The eligibility criteria for the International Co-Op program are designed to ensure a mutually beneficial engagement between the participants and the Canadian work environment. Prospective candidates can participate if:
- Their country or territory of citizenship holds a Youth Mobility Agreement with Canada, or they may be eligible through a recognized organization.
- They comply with the specific eligibility regulations outlined by their respective countries, which may permit participation once or twice, depending on the category.
- They fulfill the requirements and possess the essential documentation, as stipulated by the Canadian authorities.
Requirements for Participation
To be deemed eligible for the International Co-Op (Internship) work permit, applicants must fulfill the following consolidated list of requirements:
- Hold a valid passport or travel document from an eligible participating country for the intended duration of their stay in Canada.
- Be aged between 18 and 30, with a possible extension up to 35 years for certain countries.
- Be enrolled as a student at a post-secondary institution.
- Have at least 2,500 CAD to support living expenses in Canada.
- Obtain comprehensive health insurance for the entire duration of their stay.
- Not be inadmissible to Canada based on specific criteria outlined by Canadian authorities.
- Provide proof of a round-trip ticket or the financial capability to acquire one upon completion of their tenure in Canada.
- Secure a signed letter of offer or contract for a work placement or internship in Canada that aligns with their academic curriculum.
- Ensure the work placement or internship adheres to the wage and labor laws of the province or territory where they will be employed.
The amalgamated set of requirements aims to streamline the application process, enabling a smooth transition for participants as they embark on a transformative journey of professional growth and global exposure within the vibrant landscape of the Canadian workforce.
Ensure you meet all the criteria before applying, and take the first step toward an enriching and fulfilling professional experience in Canada.
Who Can Participate?
Please see the table below for a comprehensive list of countries participating in the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, offering young talents a unique gateway to professional and cultural exploration within the Canadian landscape.
|Country||Age Eligibility||Maximum Validity|
|Costa Rica||18–35||12 months|
|Czech Republic||18-35||12 months|
How to Apply for the IEC International Co-op Program
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility
Begin the application process by checking your eligibility through a simple questionnaire. This involves answering a few questions regarding your status. You can either sign in to your account or find out your eligibility without signing in.
- Country of citizenship
- Country of permanent residence
- Country of residence
- Student status
- Job offer
Step 2: Complete Your Online IEC Profile
If deemed eligible, complete and submit your IEC profile online. If you checked your eligibility without signing in, create an account and enter the personal reference code provided. If you signed in to check your eligibility, proceed directly with the profile completion process.
Step 3: Submit Your Profile
After completing your profile, choose from the available pools and submit your profile. It's crucial to understand the appropriate category for your application. Remember, submitting the profile doesn't imply an application for a work permit; you need an invitation to apply to start the work permit application process.
Invitation to Apply
The initial step involves establishing eligibility and completing the IEC profile. Upon receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA), you have a limited timeframe to accept the invitation and apply for a work permit. Non-response or expiration of the ITA necessitates the submission of a new IEC profile to re-enter the pool for consideration.
Submitting Your Online Application
After accepting the ITA, complete the online application form accurately and comprehensively, ensuring no omissions or errors. Validate each section and meticulously follow the system’s personalized document checklist for the requisite supporting documents.
When applying for your work permit, you must provide various supporting documents. These may include:
- Evidence of financial support, typically a recent bank statement with a minimum balance of 2,500 CAD
- Proof of a medical examination, if necessary
- Documentation of comprehensive health insurance for the entire duration of your stay in Canada
- Police clearance certificate, if applicable
- A detailed CV or resume
- A copy of your passport
- A digital photograph of yourself
- A completed Family Information (IMM 5707) form
- Evidence of current enrollment in your educational institution
- A formal internship agreement, signed by yourself, the employer, and the educational institution, containing essential details such as job responsibilities, start and end dates, and work location
- An official letter from your educational institution confirming the relevance of the job offer to your field of study
It's important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and additional documentation may be required based on individual circumstances.
Fees and Processing Times for the Work Permit
Upon completing your application and document submission, a participation fee is mandatory. Effective from 2023, the fee for the International Co-op (Internship) program stands at 156 CAD. If biometrics submission is necessary, an additional fee of 85 CAD applies. Employers must also remit a 230 CAD compliance fee and submit the employment offer to IRCC before your work permit application.
Note that the participation fee and employer compliance fee are subject to refund only in specific circumstances, including withdrawal of the application before the issuance of the port of entry letter of introduction, withdrawal of the employment offer by the employer, or if the work permit application is refused.
Application processing times typically range from a few weeks to several months, contingent upon the volume of applications and any potential inquiries or complexities within the submitted documents.
How Do the IEC Pools Work?
To apply for an International Co-op (Internship) work permit, start by creating an IEC profile and submitting it to the pools for consideration. If selected, you'll receive an Invitation to Apply. Profiles remain in the pool until an Invitation to Apply is received, the current IEC season ends, or you become ineligible. Submitting your profile early in the season may enhance your chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply.
The International Co-op (Internship) category receives Invitations to Apply first, making it prone to faster filling compared to other categories.
How Long Is My International Co-Op Visa Valid for?
The International Co-op (Internship) work permit is generally valid for 12 months. However, the specific validity period may vary depending on your country of origin, with certain exceptions allowing for a longer duration, such as 24 months for specific countries with multiple participations in the IEC program.
When Should I Apply for my International Co-op Work Permit?
The IEC International Co-op work permit operates within a designated annual "season," usually beginning in late fall (November or December) and concluding the following year around the same date. You can submit your profile, the initial step of the application process, up to 12 months before the commencement of your internship in Canada.