- Overview of the International Co-op (Internship) Work Permit
- What Is the Eligibility Criteria for the Work Permit?
- How Do the IEC Pools Work?
- How to Apply for a Work Permit: Invitation to Apply
- How to Apply for a Work Permit: Submitting Your Online Application
- What Supporting Documents Do I Need to Provide?
- What Are the Fees and Processing Times for the Work Permit?
- What Happens After I Apply?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the International Co-op (Internship) Work Permit?
IEC allows eligible young people from certain countries to travel and work in Canada for periods of up to 2 years.
There are two other types of work permits available under the IEC program:
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
Although these work permits essentially have the same entry requirements, the International Co-op (Internship) work permit is specifically targeted at post-secondary students who need to undertake a work placement or internship as part of their studies.
You must also already have a job offer for a work placement or internship before you apply.
Participants in this program will receive an employer-specific work permit, which means that they can only work for the same employer listed on the permit for a specified length of time.
What Is the Eligibility Criteria for the Work Permit?
In order to be eligible for the International Co-op (Internship) work permit, you must:
- Have a valid passport or valid travel document of an eligible, participating country for the duration of your stay in Canada
- Your country must participate in both IEC and International Co-op
- Be between 18 and 30 years old
- You may be able to apply if you’re under 35 years old if you’re from certain countries
- Be registered as a student at a post-secondary institution
- Have a minimum of CAN$ 2,500 to help cover your expenses in Canada
- Have health insurance for the duration of your stay
- Not be inadmissible to Canada
- Have a round-trip ticket or demonstrate that you’ll be able to purchase a departure ticket at the end of your stay in Canada
- Have a signed letter of offer or a signed contract for a work placement, or an internship in Canada that meets the requirements of your academic curriculum in your home country
- Not be accompanied by dependants
In addition to this, the work placement or internship you’re taking must adhere to the wage and labour laws of the province or territory you’ll be working in.
How Do the IEC Pools Work?
To successfully apply for an International Co-op (Internship) work permit, you must first create an IEC profile and submit it into the pools for selection.
If your profile is selected, you will then receive an Invitation to Apply.
Note that the pools are only open for a specific limited season each year. Your profile will stay in the pool until one of the following happens:
- You receive an Invitation to Apply
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) remove all of the profiles from the pools when the current IEC season ends
- You’re no longer eligible for IEC
You will be able to enter your profile into the pool at any time during the IEC season. However, you may have a greater chance of receiving an Invitation to Apply if you submit your profile earlier in the season.
Note also that International Co-op (Internship) is the first category that IRCC issue Invitations to Apply for. This means that places may fill up much faster in this category than the other two.
How to Apply for a Work Permit: Invitation to Apply
The first step of applying for an International Co-op (Internship) work permit is by receiving an Invitation to Apply.
The first step of this process involves establishing your eligibility using the online questionnaire. This is in order to confirm that you meet the minimum eligibility criteria for the program based on your country of residence, age, student status, and other factors.
After confirming that you’re eligible for the program, you will then be able to fill in and complete your IEC profile with your personal information.
You will then be able to submit your profile into the International Co-op (Internship) pool.
Once in the pool, you must then wait to receive an Invitation to Apply in order to then be able to submit your application for a work permit.
If you receive an Invitation to Apply, you will have 10 days to accept the invitation. Once you accept the invitation, you will then have 20 days to apply for a work permit.
If you don’t respond to the invitation by the deadline, it will expire. If it expires, you will then have to submit a new IEC profile and be accepted to the pool again before you can be chosen for another invitation.
How to Apply for a Work Permit: Submitting Your Online Application
After accepting your Invitation to Apply, you will then be able to apply for your work permit.
When completing the online application form, you must ensure that you:
- Answer all questions truthfully and completely
- Your application may be refused if you give false information or leave out important details
- Fill out all the mandatory fields in the form
- Don’t leave any gaps in time in the work history and education history sections
- You must ensure that you include all absences, periods of unemployment or travel dates
- Include all paid and unpaid work in the work history section
- Click “validate” at the end of each form so there are no errors or blank fields in your application
Once you’ve completed the online form, the system will give you a personalized document checklist, detailing all of the supporting documents you need to provide with your application.
What Supporting Documents Do I Need to Provide?
Below is a general overview of the supporting documents you may have to provide with your work permit application:
- Proof of financial support
- This will normally be a bank statement showing that you have at least CAN$ 2,500, issued no more than one week before your departure for Canada
- Proof of medical exam (if applicable)
- Proof of health insurance that covers the entire duration of your stay in Canada
- Police certificate (if applicable)
- CV or resume
- A copy of your passport
- A digital photo of yourself
- A Family Information (IMM 5707) form
- Proof of school registration
- This must be a letter from your educational institution that shows that you’re currently registered there
- An internship agreement, which is a 3-party agreement signed by you, your employer and your educational institution. It must contain of the following information:
- Job title
- Description of the tasks you’ll do
- Exact start and end dates of the internship
- Complete address of the job site
- Employer’s contact information
- A letter from your educational institution. This letter must:
- Be on official letterhead
- State your job offer is linked to your field of studies
Note that this is not an exhaustive list and you may be expected to submit documents that aren’t listed here.
What Are the Fees and Processing Times for the Work Permit?
After you complete your application and upload your documents, you will have to pay the participation fee for the program.
As of 2023, the participation fee for the International Co-op (Internship) program is CAN$ 156.
You may also need to pay an additional fee of CAN$ 85 if you’re required to give your biometrics information in the form of your fingerprints and a photograph.
Note that for the International Co-op (Internship) program, your employer must also pay a CAN$ 230 employer compliance fee and submit your offer of employment to IRCC before you submit your application for a work permit.
Note that the participation fee and employer compliance fee are only refundable if:
- You withdraw your work permit application before you are issued a port of entry letter of introduction
- Your employer withdraws their offer of employment before your work permit is issued
- Your work permit application is refused
The processing time for your application may take between a few weeks and a few months, depending on how busy the service is, and if there are any additional queries or issues with your application.
Up-to-date processing times for the current IEC season can be found on the IRCC website.
What Happens After I Apply?
Once you submit your application, IRCC will verify that:
- All the information you gave in your application is true
- You’re eligible to work in Canada
- You’re admissible to Canada
You may also receive a letter requesting you to make an appointment to give your biometrics information. If you do, you must do so within 30 days of receiving your letter.
You may also be contacted by IRCC to provide more supporting documents or information, or to attend an interview with an officer.
If Your Application Is Approved
If your application is approved, you will receive a port of entry (POE) letter of introduction. You will need to show this letter and your other supporting documents to a border services officer before the letter’s expiry date.
The border services officer will then review your documents and assess whether you meet the basic entry requirements to enter Canada. In some cases, the border services officer stamps your passport as part of the process.
If Your Application is Refused
If your application is refused, you will receive a letter explaining why.
How Can Total Law Help?
The International Co-op (Internship) work permit is a great opportunity for those who need to take up an internship or a work placement in order to complete their studies. However, the application process can be a lengthy one, and there’s no guarantee that you will be able to obtain a place in the program after entering the pools.
If you’d like additional help and assistance with entering into the International Co-op (Internship) program or any other IEC program, Total Law is here to help.
We are a team of immigration professionals who are well-versed in every aspect of Canadian and international immigration. We’ve helped students, temporary foreign workers and backpackers to obtain work permits with programs such as IEC, and can do the same for you as well.
Whether you need assistance with the IEC application process, advice on how to maximise your chances of being issued an Invitation to Apply, or need more clarification on how to prepare for your trip to Canada, we can help.
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If your country of residence isn’t on the list of eligible countries, you may instead apply for IEC through a registered organization.
There are a variety of registered organizations that may help you to apply for IEC and plan your trip abroad.
Note that you may need to provide a copy of the confirmation letter from your registered organization as part of your work permit application.
For a full list of registered organizations, see the page on IRCC’s website.
If you’re from a country that requires a visitor visa, you will instead receive a letter asking you to send IRCC your passport.
If you’re from a country that requires an eTA, you will automatically receive one when your work permit is approved.
The yearly IEC season opens at different times every year.
Typically, however, the season tends to open in either December or January.
It’s recommended that you keep a close eye on the IRCC website for updates about the season schedules and most recent numbers and statistics to evaluate your chance of being selected.