Canadian regulations impact on work experience

31 March, 2015


New regulations introduced by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) have imposed greater financial and administrative burdens on employers hosting international students for work experience placements through the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme, potentially increasing costs for students.



The website of Stepwest, an internship and work experience placement provider in Canada.


Employers in the International Co-op and Young Professionals categories will now be required to submit a CAN$230 employer compliance fee to CIC before the participant can apply for a work permit. The participant will still be required to pay a CAN$150 fee.

Thomas Prieur, Executive Director of Stepwest, an internship and work experience placement provider in Canada, said the new administrative burdens placed on companies looking to hire an international student from overseas for work experience – firms will now need to create an application and submit to CIC – along with the new costs, would put those students at a disadvantage, compared with domestic students or international students already in Canada on a study-coop programme.

“It seems logical that if a company has the choice between two candidates with similar profiles, except one is from a local Canadian institution and the other one based overseas, they will go for the locally based student,” he said.

Prieur said on a micro level this would prompt more international students and study travel agents to use the help of a placement agency such as Stepwest, adding that they have had a 200 per cent increase in enquiries since the CIC announcement.

But overall, the policy could divert work experience participants away from Canada, Prieur said. “These regulations might actually bring down the numbers of international students doing their internships in Canada, in favour of other English-speaking countries, who will directly benefit from the tougher Canadian process.”

The timing of the announcement, only two weeks prior to the launch of the 2015 IEC programme, took the sector by surprise, said Prieur. “Many students had already found and agreed their internships with host companies, and now those companies have had to explain to them there is a new process and fee.”

In addition to the changes in the Young Professionals and International Cooperation streams, a new fee of CAN$100 has been introduced for open work permits to be delivered to applicants in the Working Holiday category of IEC.

The IEC is operated for the 32 countries that Canada has reciprocal agreements with mobility exchange.

At the time of writing, CAN$1 = US0.78

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