With Autumn now well under way, more and more young professionals, recent graduates, and other foreign nationals new to the workforce are coordinating their work and travel plans for 2014. Whether the foreign national is coming to Canada for an internship, summer job, or even to travel with the option to work, the International Experience Canada (IEC) program is often the best and sometimes only category for such young foreign nationals. But what about their spouses, children, or other dependents?
Work Permits under the IEC program are available to nationals of certain countries with whom Canada has a bilateral agreement (such as France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Japan and Croatia, to name a few) and are limited to individuals who:
- are citizens and habitual residents of a participating country, and
- who are under the age of 30 or 35 (depending on their country of nationality), and
- who meet all other criteria for their country’s IEC program
As many IEC streams do not require the foreign national to already have a job offer from a Canadian company, this type of work permit has become increasingly popular. In most cases, however, there are limited work permits available under this program, with applications typically accepted by the respective visa post starting in January for the 2014 year (note: some programs open up in late Fall) and frequently meeting the cap within months – and sometimes days – of opening the program.
While Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has no specific policy prohibiting spouses and dependents of IEC participants from joining them in Canada, the IEC program does not automatically grant dependents status in Canada and as such, any accompanying family members must be admissible to Canada and, if intending to work, qualify for a work permit on their own merits. With that said, CIC has recently provided some clarification for when a dependent spouse may qualify for an open work permit by virtue of the IEC work permit holder’s status and established employment in Canada.
Specifically, spouses may qualify for a work permit under Canada’s public policy provisions if all of the following eligibility requirements can be met and demonstrated:
- The principal foreign worker must be engaging in work in Canada in a high-skilled position, i.e., work which falls within Skill Levels 0, A or B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC);
- The principal foreign worker must hold a work permit that is valid for a period of at least six months; and
- The principal foreign worker and spouse must physically reside, or plan to physically reside, in Canada while working.
If an IEC participant in the Working Holiday Program category holds only the Letter of Introduction, CIC cannot positively determine if the participant is employed in a NOC 0, A or B occupation and, therefore, cannot issue an open work permit to the participant’s spouse. Once the IEC work permit holder can prove that they are already employed in a high-skilled position, however, CIC has confirmed that their spouse may then be eligible to apply for a spousal work permit.
For further information or to determine your eligibility under the IEC or any other work permit program in Canada, please contact the PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP!
Posted by Melodie Hughes » No Comments