IEC work permits: Canada implements automated processing for faster approval times

On November 7, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched an automation tool to speed up the International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit process. This new system aims to reduce wait times and improve the immigration experience for young internationals in Canada.

The new tool will triage applications based on their complexity and approving eligibility for routine application. This will increase efficiency by making decisions faster for some applicants.

The triage function of the IEC work permit took takes on most of the clerical and repetitive tasks related to sorting applications and making final decisions. The tool triages the applications using parameters developed by experience IRCC officers, based on the legislative and regulatory criteria of the program. Files are then directed to officers for further processing based on officer expertise and office capabilities.

The tool’s eligibility function identifies routine or straightforward applications that are sent for streamlined processing. The file is then sent to an officer to determine whether the applicant is admissible to Canada and to make the final decision.

Only an IRCC officer can refuse an application. The automated tool does not refuse or recommend refusing applications. Instead, applications whose eligibility is not approved automatically may still be manually approved following review by an officer.

IRCC’s commitment to using technology

Automated tools are part of IRCC’s commitment to using technology to build a stronger immigration system. IRCC is also committed to responsibly developing and deploying data-driven technologies that meet privacy and human rights standards.

In building on Canada’s Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision Making, an algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) has been completed to assess the tool used to process IEC work permit applications.

The AIA classified the impact level of the systems as moderate. In addition, numerous measures are in place to mitigate any possible risks. These measures include a review for potential discriminatory impacts, privacy and security elements built into the design of the tool, and the ability of officers to overturn the decision of the tool.

What is the International Experience Canada (IEC)?

The IEC is a program that gives international youths the opportunity to work in Canada. Youth from over 30 different countries can get an open work permit so they can work for any employer of their choice in Canada.

Work permit issued under IEC are exempt from the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

In order to be eligible for the IEC program, candidates must:

  • be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the above countries or be a resident of one of the territories that have a bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement with Canada;
  • have a valid passport for the duration of their stay in Canada (the work permit issued will not be longer than the validity of the passport),
  • be between the ages of 18 and 30 or 35 at the time of application (the upper age limit depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship);
  • have the equivalent of $2,500 CAN upon landing to help cover initial expenses.
  • be able to take out health insurance for the duration of their stay (participants may have to present evidence of this insurance at the point of entry in Canada);
  • be admissible to Canada;
  • have, prior to departure, a round-trip ticket, or the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket for the end of their authorized stay in Canada,
  • not be accompanied by dependents; and
  • pay the appropriate fees.

Specific age and eligibility requirements may vary by country.

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