IEC Program For Young Finns And Canadians Now In Effect

A deal to allow Canadians and Finns aged 18 to 35 to work and travel in each other’s country through the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program or its Finnish equivalent has taken effect.

The Canada–Finland Youth Mobility Agreement was inked on May 19, 2023.

“Canada and Finland share a strong bilateral relationship based on common values and people-to-people ties,” said Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

“The IEC will allow Canadian and Finnish youth to learn from new cultures and experiences while developing skills, enhancing career prospects and strengthening friendships they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.”


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First founded in 1956, the program now allows for these cross-cultural connections between 38 partner countries and territories.

International Experience Canada Program Countries

Andorra

Greece

Portugal

Australia

Hong Kong

San Marino

Austria

Iceland

Slovakia

Belgium

Ireland

Slovenia

Canada

Italy

Spain

Chile

Japan

Sweden

Costa Rica

South Korea

Switzerland

Croatia

Latvia

Taiwan

Czech Republic

Lithuania

Ukraine

Denmark

Luxembourg

United Kingdom

Estonia

Netherlands

Finland

New Zealand

France

Norway

Germany

Poland

The addition of Finland to the IEC was announced in Thunder Bay, Ontario last year.

“The cultural fabric of Thunder Bay and our region has been woven through with Finnish culture. From food, language and traditions, generations of Finns have contributed to our communities in many important ways,” said Patty Hajdu, then the federal minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario.

“The Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement will give youth of every background all across Canada an opportunity to learn from one another, strengthening ties between our two countries.”

In 2023, Canada extended the IEC to nearly 90,000 international youth. More than 240,000 Canadians have participated in IEC since 2008.

Youth Program Lets Foreign Nationals Work In Canada

Under the working holiday category of the IEC, candidates receive open work permits that allow them to work anywhere in the host country. They do not have to have a job offer and can work for more than one employer while in the country.

Under the international co-op, or internship, category, students receive employer-specific work permits to gain experience in their field of study.

The work placement or internship must be a requirement for the course of study and so the work permits are employer-specific. These participants must work for the same employer in the same location for the entire duration of their stay.


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The young professionals category allows participants to receive employer-specific work permits to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.

The job must be one that contributes to the participant’s professional development. The work permit given is employer-specific.

Under the IEC, applicants have the option of coming to work and travelling in Canada with the help of a Recognized Organization (RO) to help them plan their trip.

These organizations, which usually charge a fee for their services, can help applicants:

  • get information about Canadian culture, languages, laws, taxes, and job opportunities;
  • find transportation, and;
  • provide general support and advice.

Using an RO can help some of those who may want to apply from non-IEC countries come to Canada through the program. Every applicant to the IEC who is using an RO needs to provide a confirmation letter indicating that the organization is helping him or her and upload it to his or her profile.

Here is a list of these recognized organizations, their target markets, the work permit they help provide and the countries in which they operate.

AIESEC Canada

AIESEC Canada is a non-profit organization that helps develop leadership in youth.

Types of work permits:

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 30

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, Brazil, India

Go International

GO International is a Canadian organization that offers work and travel opportunities.

Types of work permits:

Working Holiday (open work permit)

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, the United States

International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)

IAESTE offers opportunities in technical career-related jobs.

Types of work permits:

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

International Co-op (Internship) (employer-specific work permit) for students

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries and other IAESTE country partners

International Internship Network (IIN)

IIN offers personalized academic internship /co-op and working holiday programs for post-secondary students and youth in the specific partner countries listed below.

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible countries: Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom

A-Way to Work/International Rural Exchange Canada Inc.

Through A-Way to Work, the non-profit International Rural Exchange Canada offers paid opportunities to young people in:

  • agriculture
  • hospitality
  • culinary arts
  • tourism
  • horticulture
  • landscaping
  • other sectors

Types of work permits:

Working Holiday (open work permit)

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target Market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories only

Languages Canada

The Languages Canada consortium offers a variety of work-abroad opportunities for Canadian youth, specializing in work placements for English teachers in training and in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible countries: IEC countries or territories only

Stepabroad (Stepwest)

Stepwest offers work experiences ranging from paid ski resort jobs to industry-specific student internships.

Types of work permits:

Working Holiday (open work permit)

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories only

SWAP Working Holidays

SWAP Working Holidays helps with working holidays and young professional work and travel opportunities.

Types of work permits:

Working Holiday (open work permit)

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, the United States

Sherri Crump

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