The benefits of working with Recognized Organizations to secure IEC work permits for citizens of IEC countries


This article was authored by Canadian immigration lawyers Ilene Solomon at Ilene Solomon Immigration Law in Toronto, Ontario & Dean Szikinger at Zaifman Immigration Lawyers in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

International Experience Canada (IEC) is an immigration program that provides open (Working Holiday) and employer-specific (Young Professional) work permits (WP) to youth aged 18 to 30/35 from IEC countries. IEC countries have bilateral agreements, often known as youth mobility agreements (YMA), with Canada which form the basis for these WPs. There are 36 active IEC countries, including many European countries as well as a host of others such as Japan, Chile, and Australia.

Citizens of IEC countries can apply for IEC WPs in one of two ways: through the regular process under a YMA or through a Recognized Organization (RO). Designated by IRCC, ROs provide support and facilitate travel and work-abroad services between Canada and other countries.

One might wonder why anyone from an IEC country would pay the pricey RO fee to work with a RO when they could “cut out the middleman” and apply directly to IRCC through the regular process?

Working with a RO provides many logistical benefits. ROs guide applicants through the entire application process and assist with securing transportation, accommodation, and employment in Canada. The less apparent, yet crucial, advantage of working with a RO is the array of valuable immigration benefits provided. Below is a list of key immigration benefits that pursuing an IEC WP through a RO can provide for citizens of IEC countries.

  1. ROs offer a faster and more predictable process

Obtaining an IEC WP via the regular process involves submitting an IEC profile and then waiting for an invitation to apply (ITA). ITAs are distributed via an opaque lottery-based system. The wait can be long and unpredictable, especially for citizens of countries where demand exceeds supply. Obtaining an IEC WP via a RO involves being vetted by the RO and paying the RO fee. Assuming the RO still has spots available that season, a foreign national can obtain an ITA and apply for the WP within days.

  1. ROs play by their own (often looser) rules

The YMAs that govern the regular process create requirements specific to each country (types and durations of WPs, ages of eligibility, number of participations, etc.). ROs are not bound by these requirements, which presents the following benefits:

  • Access to double (or more) the amount of IEC WPs. Most IEC country citizens can access one or two WPs via the regular process. Once they have exhausted their participation(s) via the regular process, they can then turn to a RO to obtain two more IEC WPs. Using a RO can therefore, at a minimum, double the time that the foreign national can work in Canada.
  • Repeat category participation. IEC countries offering two participations via the regular process often require them to be through different categories (one working holiday and one young professional). It is sometimes possible to obtain two of the same type of WP via the RO (two working holidays), which can present enormous advantages.
  • No discontinuity requirement. Some IEC countries require a short break between participations. This disrupts the acquisition of continuous Canadian work experience since moving from one IEC WP to another does not create maintained status or allow interim employment. WPs obtained through ROs are not subject to discontinuity requirements.
  • Participation until age 35. Most ROs allow participation between the ages of 18-35 inclusive, even for citizens of the 10 IEC countries that limit participation to age 30 via the regular process.
  • Access to both open and closed WPs. Some ROs offer access to both Working Holiday and Young Professional WPs, even if a foreign national would not have such access via the regular process. For example, Swiss citizens can only access a Young Professional via the regular process, but can access a Working Holiday via a RO. Conversely, Japanese citizens can only access a Working Holiday via the regular process, but can access a Young Professional via a RO.
  1. ROs offer a LMIA alternative without compromising access to Express Entry Arranged Employment points

This point is best made by example, for which we will contemplate a 30-year-old Belgian seeking to work in Canada and eventually pursue PR. A prudent strategy would involve first obtaining a working holiday via the regular process and using it to obtain a job offer in Canada. Because Belgians are limited to one participation via the regular process, another working holiday followed by a young professional could be obtained, both through the RO. It would not matter that the applicant was over age 30 (the age cut-off for Belgians under the YMA) because most ROs allow participation up to and including age 35.

The above scenario avoids the far more onerous LMIA process while creating the immigration infrastructure to help ensure the foreign national is well positioned for the Express Entry “no program specified” draws. It allows for the acquisition of up to three years of Canadian work experience. It also facilitates the acquisition of arranged employment points since the young professional WP falls under the reciprocal employment category.


While this article focuses on the benefits of working with ROs for citizens of IEC countries, it should be mentioned that those from non-IEC countries also benefit greatly from working with ROs. Four out of the seven ROs are open to applicants from select countries that do not have YMAs with Canada. For example, Americans can obtain IEC WPs with the support of SWAP and GO International; citizens of Brazil and India can obtain IEC WPs with the support of AIESEC Canada; and students (and occasionally non-students) from a list of 85 countries, many of which are non-IEC countries, can obtain IEC WPs with the support of IAESTE Canada.

IRCC’s website describes the basic eligibility criteria and offerings of each RO. RO contact information is provided below, including contacts to inbound Canada program directors, as available:

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