How to Apply for an International Co-op in Canada

Whether you want to gain experience in hospitality or engineering, work for a non-profit or tech start-up – and everything in-between – doing an international co-op in Canada will make you stand out in today’s globally competitive market and open valuable doors in your future career. So, if you’re thinking about doing an internship in Canada, read on to learn how to apply for an international co-op visa in Canada.

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The International Internship Co-op Visa for Canada

In order to secure an international co-op in Canada, you will need to apply for an internship visa, called the IEC international co-op work permit. This work permit allows young students from specific countries to obtain work experience in Canada for up to 12 months (depending on the country). It is also mandatory, even if your internship is unpaid or for a short period of time.

The international co-op visa for Canada is employer-specific, which means that it is only valid for you to complete your internship at your employer in Canada. As a result, you are not allowed to work on the side.


Please note that each IEC country has its own specific requirements, but in general, you must:

  • Be between 18 and 30 or 35 years old (depending on your nationality)
  • Hold a passport from any of the IEC countries with an agreement for the internship visa category. Check to see if your country is eligible
  • Be registered as a student in your home country
  • Complete an internship as part of your studies: University, College or vocational studies
  • Have an internship offer in Canada
  • Your employer must be eager to follow the steps and pay the necessary fee to the Government of Canada in order for you to apply for your international co-op visa. No worries, we take care of this through our Canada Internship Programs
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Steps to Apply for Your International Co-op Visa:

1. Find Your Internship in Canada

Once you have found an internship, otherwise known as your international co-op in Canada, it is important to explain to the potential host company the steps they will need to complete so that you can apply for your international co-op visa.

Your host company must:

  • Request enrolment to the Government of Canada’s Employer Portal
  • When the enrolment application is processed, your employer will be notified. If the request is approved, your employer will be able to log in to the Employer Portal
  • Through the Employer Portal submit details of your internship
  • A fee of CAD $230 must be paid by the host company to submit your internship offer
  • An Employer Compliance Fee number will be issued for you to use for your international co-op visa application

IMPORTANT: Ensure that your employer pays the Employer Compliance Fee and submits your internship offer through the Employer Portal before you submit your application for an internship work permit in Canada.

Some companies require their legal department to complete this step, so make sure you give the host company enough time to check all the requirements to complete this step. The fact that internships can be unpaid – as it is part of your studies back home to gain credits – requires companies to do things properly as otherwise unpaid internships are not legal in Canada and companies can face serious consequences.

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2. Get Your Invitation to Apply (Ita) for Your International Co-op Permit

As with other IEC permits, candidates are accepted into ‘pools(s)’ and will wait to be drawn to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA).

Once you receive your invitation, you will have ten days to accept your Invitation to Apply (ITA) before it expires. Once you accept, you will then have 20 days to submit your work permit application.

Your employer must provide you with an employment ID number that you will need to complete your international co-op visa application.

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3. Complete the Requested Information Through Your IEC Profile

Now it’s time to complete your personal details on your IEC Profile, which includes the following:

  • Employer Compliance Fee Number
  • NOC Code – What is the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code for the internship you have been offered? Find your National Occupational Classification (NOC) code.
  • Job title – in your case the title of your internship position
  • Name of your host company
  • Intended location of employment in Canada – the address where you will be completing your internship
  • Desired start date of your internship
  • End date

4. Upload the Required Documents for Your International Co-op Visa Application

Among the required documents you will need to upload:

  • Passport copy
  • Digital picture following specifications
  • Family information document
  • Updated resume
  • Internship agreement
  • Proof of registration as a student
  • Police certificate or multiple ones, depending on the country where you are living or have lived in the past
  • Motivation letter explaining why this internship will make a difference in your career and how it matches the requirements of your University or College back in your home country
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5. Submit Your International Co-op Visa Application and Pay the Fees

Time to submit your application for your international co-op in Canada! The fees are as follows:

  • International Experience Canada (IEC) fee: CAD $156
  • Biometrics fee: CAD $85
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6. Complete Biometrics at Any of the VFS Centers

You must complete biometrics at any of the visa application centers, even if your country of citizenship does not have one or if it is far from your town, biometrics are mandatory.

Please note that your application will only be processed after you complete biometrics, and you will have 30 days to get them done.

7. Wait for Your Visa to Be Approved to Travel to Canada

As mentioned, an international co-op for Canada takes time. This varies from six to eight weeks from when you complete your biometrics. This means that if you are planning to do an internship in Canada in June 2023, you should start working on finding your internship no later than January 2023, so that you have enough time to complete all the necessary steps.

Hoorah - you're going to Canada!

8. Travel to Canada and Start Your Internship!

Once you get your approval letter or Port of Entry Letter (POE), you can travel to Canada!

You will not be entering as a visitor, therefore you must come ready to go through immigration and collect your international co-op permit upon arrival.

To receive your internship permit upon arrival you must present:

  • Approval Letter (POE)
  • Proof of registration as a student
  • Internship agreement signed by your host company and University back home
  • Proof of financial funds to support your internship in Canada
  • Insurance for the duration of your internship
  • Return flight or sufficient funds to buy a return flight


Interested in applying for an international co-op in Canada? On our Internship Programs, we will guarantee your dream internship in Canada, provide step-by-step support on applying for the international co-op visa, and a whole lot more! Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you.