How to Enter the IEC Pool and Start Your Canadian Working Holiday

June 21, 2024


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Dreaming of experiencing Canada's vibrant culture while gaining valuable work experience? The International Experience Canada (IEC) program offers young adults the chance to do that worldwide. Understanding how to enter the IEC pool is crucial to embarking on your Canadian working holiday adventure. Our guide offers the steps to create your profile, receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA), and secure your Canadian working holiday. 

Are you ready to learn how to enter the IEC Pool? Then take a look as we uncover the essential steps to enter the IEC pool and begin your exciting Canadian working holiday adventure.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

The IEC program facilitates cultural exchange and strengthens economic ties between Canada and partner countries. Offered to young adults (18-35) from these nations, IEC grants temporary work permits (maximum 24 months) for three streams:

Applicants enter a pool for each category, with selection through randomized draws.

Who is Eligible to Enter the IEC Pool?

To participate in the IEC, you must come from a country with your country or territory with a Youth Mobility Agreement (YMA) with Canada. In some cases, specific IEC-recognized organizations (RO) can help small numbers of youth from non-partner countries to participate in the IEC.

Specific countries allow for your participation only once. Others allow you to participate in different categories but twice. Because each country is different, you must check to see if you can apply. Even if you are invited to apply, you can not participate more times than your country allows.

After submitting your application, a Canadian border services officer will assess your eligibility, including your past participation. Make sure you read and understand all the requirements before you apply. If you have dependents, they may not come with you to Canada via the IEC. However, they may apply to visit, study, or work in Canada. The IRCC will look at your application separately from theirs.

How the IEC Pools Work

Your profile will stay in the IEC pool until you receive an ITA for a work permitImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) removes all IEC pool profiles at the end of the season, or you are no longer eligible. The IRCC regularly issues invitations to candidates in the IEC pools when they are open during the season.

Check the IRCCs schedule to learn when the rounds of invitations for each country and category start and end. You can submit an IEC profile anytime while the IEC season is open. Submit your profile before your country's last round of invitations is open. You may also receive an ITA for a Canada work permit.

How Can I Enter Canada’s IEC Pools?

Before entering an IEC Pool, you must become a candidate in one or more IEC pools.

Step 1: Become a Candidate

This process involves determining if you meet the minimum eligibility criteria by answering questions to create a free online IEC profile. Your answers will determine your eligibility for a pool in one or all three IEC categories. Generally, IRCC provides one pool of eligible candidates per country and category. Submit your profile to one or more of these IEC pools. Candidates in the pools must receive an ITA for a work permit.

Step 2: Answer the IEC Pool Questionnaire

Use our questionnaire to determine if you meet the criteria for getting into the IEC pools. It will take you about 10 minutes. It will ask you about your:

  • Country of citizenship,
  • Country of permanent residence (where you have a permanent address),
  • Country of residence,
  • Student status (if it applies),
  • Job offer (if it applies to you),
  • Confirmation letter from a recognized organization (if this applies).

To answer the questionnaire, sign in to your account and select International Experience Canada. If you are unsure of your eligibility or do not have an account, find out if you are eligible without signing in.

Step 3: Complete Your Online IEC Profile

If you checked your eligibility without signing in, follow the below steps.

  • Write down or copy the personal reference code the IRCC gives you at the end of the questionnaire. Here is an example: JM1234567890),
  • Create your account
  • Enter your personal reference code when asked,
  • If you signed in to your account to check your eligibility, click “Continue.” You will not get a personal reference code.

The IRCC will use the answers you provided in the questionnaire to create and start your profile. You will need your passport to create your profile. You must also provide the IRCC with your identity, e.g., full name, date of birth, place of birth, and contact information.

Filling in the Online Forms

Leave out any commas that separate your first or last names (if you have more than one first or last name). Canada is a bilingual country, so use only English and French letters.

Step 4: Submit Your Online IEC Profile

When you complete your profile, the IRCC will tell you which pools are available. Submit your profile to any of the available IEC pools. Understand which category is right for you before submitting your profile.

Submitting an IEC profile differs from applying for a work permit. An ITA is required to begin a Canada work permit application. If you receive an ITA, use your account to pay your fees, submit your work permit application, and check your application status.

You will receive a port of entry letter of introduction if your work permit application is approved. The letter does not guarantee you will get a Canada work permit or be allowed to enter Canada. The border services officer will make a final decision on your entry.

Step 5: Get Invited to Apply For an IEC’s Working Holiday

Your account will get a message if you receive an ITA. The message lists the next steps you should take and your IEC category. You have ten days to decide if you will accept the invitation. The deadline will be in your invitation. You have 20 days to apply online for a work permit from the day and time you accept your invitation.

To accept the ITA, go to your account in the“Continue my profile/application, not yet submitted” section, find the application called “Work permit,” and click “Start application.” Your invitation will expire if you do not respond by the deadline shown in the invitation; if the deadline expires, you must submit a new IEC profile.

Once you accept your invitation, you must apply for a Canada work permit. You must show proof of the information to the IRCC in your IEC profile. You must also provide more information about your background and the work you intend to do in Canada. If you do not receive an ITA, you can stay in the pool until the IRCC removes all profiles from its pools at the end of the season, or you are no longer eligible for IEC.

How Can I Apply For the IEC Working Holiday Visa

After receiving your ITA, you can apply for the Working Holiday Visa by following the below steps.

  • Make sure you know the date and time of your deadline,
  • Complete the online form,
  • Get all the documents you need,
  • Pay your fees,
  • Submit your complete application,
  • Give your biometrics.

Find out more about how to apply for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada.

Now that you have a clearer understanding of how to enter the IEC pool, you can begin your journey to work and travel in Canada with the assistance of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).


Can I Apply for the IEC Program if I am not a Resident of my Country of Citizenship?

Yes, you can apply for the IEC program even if you are not currently residing in your country of citizenship. The key requirement is that you hold citizenship in one of the participating countries that are eligible for the IEC program.

Can I Apply for the IEC Program Multiple Times?

Yes, you can apply for the IEC program multiple times, but you must ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria each time you apply. Each application is considered separately, and past applications do not affect your eligibility.

How do I Increase my Chances of Receiving an Invitation?

To increase your chances of receiving an ITA for the IEC program, create a strong and accurate profile highlighting your qualifications and meeting the specific requirements for your country's quota. Stay informed about application timelines, be proactive in monitoring your application status, and consider applying early in the intake period when quotas are typically more available.