This guide is only for those who are eligible to apply for International Experience Canada (IEC) and are able to work for at least 12 months in Canada.
There could be a number of reasons why you are choosing Canada as your base. Its close proximity to parts of Asia (from the Vancouver side), to Europe (from the Toronto/Halifax side) and from the US is just one reason. You also have the opportunity for exposure to the North American market (both Canada AND the US) if the company is large enough. You have the advantage of going with a fairly stable economy, with English being one of the main languages spoken (alongside French) and an urban multicultural community.
For those eligible, they can move and work in Canada via the International Experience Canada route. And from there, if they choose to use Canada as a more permanent base, they can then springboard on to a Canadian permanent residency.
Why write this post?
The reason why I am writing this is because I read about others who were on the IEC visa, they had their experience, then later on they realize that they want to stay and work longer but they can’t.
Another could be someone who came back to their home country, then later realized that they want another shot in Canada but this time, they have to go through other and more cumbersome visa hoops.
It’s better to be prepared from the beginning, rather than the end. It’s what I advise in my tips for those on short-term, temporary work visas.
Let’s get started!
Now, in Canada, all applicants must qualify within the Express Entry pool regardless of what stream or channel that they are applying in. For those on IEC, I’ve identified that the best channel is to apply via the Canadian Experience Class stream. Even if you meet the criteria, you are classified with points. The higher points you have, the better your change of getting an invitation to apply for permanent residency.
When you receive your Letter of Introduction
This is the letter given to you to apply for the IEC visa upon landing Canada. Once you get this, start looking for work and make sure to meet the requirements that are set in that letter. You can still be turned away by the Canadian Border Security.
Meeting the Canadian Experience Class core requirement
You must have that job opportunity since freelancing or self-employment does not count as qualified work experience. Upon meeting the requirements of at least 12 months of full-time (or an equal amount in part-time) skilled work experience, you are then eligible for the Canadian Experience Class stream. For some reason, the system will still accept you even if you only hit 11 months and x weeks so it’s not the exact 12 months mark.
From day one to three months
Sign up to a university education certification authority to confirm that your overseas education has some sort of Canadian equivalency. I used WES. These don’t expire after five years.
Try to not lose your job. In Canada, there are various “statutory probation periods” and they vary depending on which province you are working in. This means that provinces allow for the termination of an employee without any notice or any pay. Probationary periods occur at the beginning of your employment. Out of the list of eligible citizens that can apply for this visa, Australians are the only ones that can live and work for two years. The rest, except for Italy, can only live and work for one year only. Having such a small stay duration means that there are very little chances of getting another opportunity under this visa class.
After three months
You can do a test run and create your Express Entry profile, seeking to enter via Canadian Experience Class. Make a note of which details you need and if there is anything else that you need to cover that is unique to your situation.
There are going to be some parts which you won’t need to meet. For example, entrants on Canadian Experience Class who are already working don’t need to meet the Proof of Funds requirement.
After six months
Sign up to get the English language test. This will add more points to your profile. I used CELPIP. You may actually want to do the language test a few months before going into Express Entry since there is a two-year expiration date for the results.
You may want to notify your employer about wanting to continue on and apply for permanent residency and wanting to continue on working for them. There may be other programs available which they may be aware of already.
The other case may be that they need to provide a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA, previously called LMO) if it turns out that you need to enter via another class such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). However, getting an employer to do a LMIA requires some additional red tape that is normally not involved when hiring someone who is on IEC visa.
After 10 months
Express Entry will require not only the exact start and end dates of your previous work history, but it will require the NOC equivalent and whether or not it was full-time or part-time. Have these details ready.
After 11 months
Since the 12 months skilled Canadian work experience requirement seem to start from 11 months and something like 1 week, you can actually enter your details in this early and you may still find yourself eligible for Canadian Experience Class.
Start entering the rest of your details in your Express Entry profile so that you can calculate your final points.
Time to go into Express Entry!
After the points are calculated, submit the Express Entry profile
Once your final points are calculated, you’ll be in the running to obtain the invitation to apply for permanent residency.
Invitation rounds happen at two-week intervals and you are notified via email in regards to any new messages.
You are in IEC and you receive your invitation for permanent residency
Once you have an invitation, you have 60 days to obtain your documentation and complete your application for permanent residency.
Your IEC will most likely expire before receiving your invitation for permanent residency
Realistically, and especially if you are on a 12 month visa, you will be facing the consequence of not being able to obtain the invitation prior to the expiration of the IEC visa. In this case, it is a very good idea to plan and budget for seeking legal counsel or qualified migration assistance to see what avenues can be pursued.
Your status changes after applying for permanent residency
Another item that I have found is that there is this other status called a ‘Permanent resident applicant‘. This is like a grey area between those that are not temporary, not permanent residents nor are they citizens. For example, there may be certain government or provincial resources, benefits, exceptions and so on that will consider those that are deemed ‘Permanent Resident applicants’. The Government of Canada also has another set of wording for these here. Keep a look out for these.
The reality is that it’s going to take months, even years, to get a final decision.
After the application for permanent residency and you are on a 24 month visa (aka, you are Australian!)
Once this has been sent off, and you have four months or less left in IEC you can apply for an open-work permit providing that you meet certain conditions.
The point of these open-work permits is that it will enable you to live and stay in the country while a decision is made on permanent residency.
After the application for permanent residency and you are on a 12 month visa
The main issue here is that by the time you are ready to submit your application for permanent residency, your IEC visa will most likely have expired. However, there may be some work around. The only thing is that you will by then have already sought after legal counsel or qualified migration assistance at this stage. If you are already prepared and have budgeted for this, then this should not be a nasty shock.
When is it time to get legal counsel?
One of the cases that I have read on a law firm site, they involved a client on IEC applying for a visitor visa prior to its expiration. In doing so, they were able to take advantage of “implied status”. However, in this case it is a good idea to seek out as much advice as you can, including legal counsel.
Please note that this guide is not a substitute for migration or legal advice and that you should first and foremost check the Government of Canada Immigration and Citizenship portal for the latest details and/or with qualified legal counsel for your particular situation.
I am also not a migration consultant, I do write about Millennial expats though. Please have a look at the rest of my blog here for other posts.
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