IEC Canada: How Portuguese Youth Can Travel and Work in Canada

In 2018, exciting new opportunities in Canada opened for Portuguese citizens when Canada and Portugal signed a youth mobility agreement known as International Experience Canada (IEC) that lets Portuguese youth travel and work in Canada without the usual strict requirements that are associated with Canadian work visas.

Today, thousands of Portuguese youth have taken advantage of IEC to work abroad and develop their careers after graduating. And those who are looking for something a little more adventurous have traveled to Canada on a Working Holiday to explore one of the most instagrammable countries in the world while funding their adventurous trip with part-time work.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career abroad then the IEC might just be the best way to get your foot in the door! Find out more about IEC 2021, and how you can travel and work in Canada from Portugal.

IEC Canada 2021: Experience Canada from Portugal

How to work in Canada from Portugal | Infographic

The International Experience Canada (IEC) is a program that allows young people between the ages of 18 and 35 to get Canadian work permits much easier. The best part is that the IEC is exclusively available for citizens of 35 participating countries and Portugal is one of them! There are three IEC streams that you can apply through to get a Canadian work permit in 2021 and beyond. Learn more about these streams below.

IEC Streams: Do You Qualify?

1. Young Professionals

startup business people group working everyday job at modern office. Tech office, tech company, tech startup, tech team. How Portuguese Youth Can Travel and Work in Canada

Did you complete your degree and are looking for opportunities in your field of study? Canada is probably one of the best places to kickstart your career especially if you’re a STEM or medical graduate. These crucial and innovative occupations are in high demand in the country due to skills shortages and Canada constantly recruits foreign talent to help boost the economy through work permit streams like the Young Professionals of the IEC.

Post-secondary graduates in Portugal may qualify for the Young Professionals stream which allows them to pursue work opportunities in Canada that leads to their professional development. To qualify, you must have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer that’s related to your qualifications.

Young Professionals
Requirement Details
Job offer Yes, in NOC A, 0, and B and sometimes in NOC C if you can submit a post-secondary diploma, certificate, or degree.
Proof of funds A minimum of CAD $2,500 to help cover your initial expenses
Health insurance You must have a health insurance plan for the duration of your stay in Canada
Contract of employment The employment offer must be in your field of expertise (through training or work experience) and contribute to your professional development.

2. International Co-Op

Tourist using his phone in the center of a city.  | How Portuguese Youth Can Travel and Work in Canada

Are you still studying but need to complete an internship or work placement as part of your academic curriculum? If yes, then why not gain valuable work experience in Canada?

Portuguese students will be able to work in Canada by applying for internship programs that are directly related to their fields of study. The International Co-op stream is a great opportunity to get international work exposure even before you’ve graduated and build connections that could land you a permanent job in Canada once you’ve completed your qualification!

To qualify to work in Canada through the co-op you must be registered as a student at a post-secondary institution and have a job offer for an internship in Canada. The internship must be required to complete your studies and you’ll have to submit proof of this when you apply for your Canadian work permit.

3. Working Holiday Visa

Portugeuse woman eating a dessert on holiday | How Portuguese Youth Can Travel and Work in Canada

Last but definitely not least we have the Working Holiday stream. It’s by far the most popular IEC category and highly sought after by Portuguese youth but there is a limited amount of work visas available each year. This year, there are1,750 Working Holiday Visas up for grabs for Portuguese citizens. This means that competition is stiff, and typically candidates who meet all of the requirements and have a complete IEC profile are the most successful.

What makes this Canadian work permit so special and in-demand? Well, the Working Holiday Visa is an open work permit that allows you to explore the beauty of the country while working and earning money for up to two years! It’s the ideal trip for adventurous young adults looking for a unique way to travel and gain international work experience.

Working Holiday Visa COVID-19 Requirements

Note: As part of the new temporary COVID-19 travel requirements, you need to arrange employment before you can participate in IEC 2021. Previously, you did not need to have a job offer in Canada to participate in a Working Holiday. However, you won’t be limited to work for that single employer or in a specific location during the duration of your trip.

Working Holiday Visa
Requirement Details
Job offer Yes, as part of the new COVID-19 requirements.
Proof of funds A minimum of CAD $2,500 to help cover your initial expenses
Health insurance You must have a health insurance plan for the duration of your stay in Canada
Open Work Permit Fee You must also pay an open work permit holder fee of CAD $100 in addition to the visa processing fee.

How Do You Apply for IEC 2021 from Portugal?

The Portuguese passport and euro banknotes on a geographical map| IEC Canada 2021

Step 1: Meet the Program Requirements

Choose an IEC 2021 stream that best fits your career goals, and make sure that you meet all of the requirements including obtaining a valid job offer.

Step 2: Create an Online Profile

Create an online IEC profile by filling out a form and answering all the questions truthfully and completely. Then, submit your profile. You’ll get a message in your account that confirms you are entered into one or more IEC stream pools.

Step 3: Get Invited to Apply

Once entered into the IEC pool you must wait for rounds of invitations. The number of candidates invited to apply during each round varies. Rounds will take place until there are no more spots available or the IEC season closes. Your Invitation to Apply will be sent to your account, and you have 10 days to accept it.

Step 4: Submit Your Documents

If you accept the invitation you will have 20 days to submit your supporting documents and apply for your Canadian work visa. It costs $156 to process your visa application for the IEC. The documents you need to submit include the following:

Documents for IEC

  1. Proof of financial support (minimum of $2,500);
  2. Medical exam report (under specific circumstances);
  3. Health insurance (show proof at the port of entry);
  4. Police certificate;
  5. Copy of your resume;
  6. Copy of your Portuguese passport;
  7. Proof of school registration (Co-op);
  8. Proof that your job is linked to your studies (Co-op);

Step 5: Receive Your Work Visa!

It takes approximately eight weeks to receive an answer from the IRCC. You will be issued with an employer-specific work visa (Co-op, Young Professionals) that allows you to work for the employer specified in your application. Or you could get an open work permit (Working Holiday) which, under new COVID-19 measures, requires you to work for the employer specified in your application when you arrive in Canada. However, you’re not obligated to work for that employer during your entire stay in the country.

IEC 2021: What to Know About Working in Canada

IEC Canada 2021: How Portuguese Youth Can Travel and Work in Canada


I am from Portugal and want to apply for a working holiday visa in Canada, can I apply now?

Yes you can. The IEC 2021 season is open and only 54 invitations have been sent to Portuguese citizens so far. That means another 1,700 spots are still up for grabs, and you should get your application submitted as soon as possible!

How many times can I participate in IEC as a Portuguese citizen?

Portuguese citizens are allowed to participate in IEC only once. That means you can get a Canadian work permit through either a Working Holiday, Young Professionals or International Co-op - not all three. The good news is that unlike other European countries, Portuguese citizens can get a work permit for up to two years! That’s the maximum amount of time issued to IEC participants.

How Can I Travel and Work in Canada During COVID-19?

You can travel to Canada if you have a valid work permit. You must also present a negative COVID-19 test at the airport and prepare to quarantine for 14 days.

Get Help With Your IEC Work Permit Application

Is participating in the IEC on your bucket list? If you’re Portuguese citizen between the ages of 18 and 35, and want to travel and work in Canada then we can help you navigate the fast, and intricate process. As certified visa specialists we can personally handle the entire application process on your behalf to maximize your chances of success. Simply, fill in the form below to start a quick eligibility assessment.