New 2024 UK Rules For IEC & Youth Mobility Visa Expands Work Opportunities For UK Youth

Canada and the UK are popular travel destinations for UK and Canadian youth embarking on working holidays. This cross-country fondness has been acknowledged and embraced by government officials in both Canada and the UK, leading to some attractive adjustments in youth mobility agreements and the work permit that is supplied through this program, commonly referred to as the “Working Holiday Visa”. But what does this mean for you? In short, you will get more time working in Canada. Let’s take a look at the new policies, and what they mean for individuals in different situations:

New Visa / Work Permit Types:

Working Holiday


  • Original IEC/UK Youth Mobility Scheme agreement
  • Available for UK nationals aged 18-35
  • Grants a stay of 2-3 years
  • Open work permit allowing work for most employers in all locations
  • No need for a job offer, and not limited to one employer
  • Offers flexibility for fully exploring Canada while funding adventures

International Co-op (Internship)


  • Aimed for post-secondary students requiring internships
  • Opportunity for gaining international experience
  • Requires enrollment in studies
  • Employment must be secured before submitting the work permit application
  • Participants can only work for the specified employer during their stay
  • Allows to obtain international work experience in your studies

Young Professional


  • Must have a secured job offer in Canada
  • Allows 2-3 years of international work experience
  • Job offer must contribute to professional development
  • TEER Category must be 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  • Employer specific work permit, you are only allowed to work for one employer in Canada.

2024 | An extra year of opportunity

There’s no doubt that these updates will be life-changing for many. With a wider age window, a longer duration, and 2 new work permit categories under IEC, youth mobility between Canada and the UK just got worlds easier. Whether you’re planning for the ultimate gap year or kick-starting your career with some international work experience, this is an opportunity for you to get out into the world and experience life like you never have before. 

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IEC & UK / Work Permit Changes FAQ:

I had one working holiday permit before 2015 and now I have a 2 years working holiday, am I also eligible for a new participation under IEC?

No. The new agreement between Canada and the UK allows you to participate up to 2 times.

However, working holidays that were carried out through a Recognized Organization (RO) such as Stepwest, do not count as IEC participation.

I had my 2 years working holiday permit and currently holding an RO Working Holiday also for 2 years, am I eligible again for an extra 12 months?

Yes, you are eligible for an extra 12 months. Remember, that RO participation doesn’t count towards the regular IEC agreement. 

This means that even when it says, “those who already participated in IEC twice are no longer eligible to apply”, you’re exempt because you participated under RO the second time. 

The increased maximum stay from 2-3 years is great news for anyone currently holding a 24 month IEC visa, but it is worth noting that this is not a work permit extension, but rather an application for a brand new work permit that provides you 12 more months in Canada.


I am already in Canada with a 24 months working holiday - am I eligible for an extension for 12 months as a UK citizen to remain in Canada?

NO, the addition 12 months are not an extension of your existing working holiday permit, but rather, a brand new application that will grant you a brand new work permit. Extensions on existing IEC permits are not an option.

In order to obtain your additional 12 month working holiday permit, you will need to create an IEC profile for the season, get an invitation to apply (ITA) and submit a brand new work permit application. Once approved, your POE will once again give you one year to decide when you want to activate the new work permit.

Bare in mind that you will not get maintained status between permits, so it is very important that you plan ahead. In order to activate an IEC working holiday, you will be required to leave the country and re-enter. This is an important thing to consider if you are currently residing in Canada, as you will still need to leave the country by the expiration of your existing work permit. 

The additional 12 months offers the potential re-enter for one year on an entirely new work permit, but not to extend the stay on an existing one. 

When should I apply for the extra 12 months work permit if I want to make sure I don’t have gaps between permits and I can continue working?

Way in advance! You will have the flexibility of having 12 months from the moment you will get your POE or approval letter, so it’s always better to secure it sooner rather than later. It is a general rule that you should secure your new 12 months working holiday permit at least a few months before your current work permit expires. 

While you will still need to exit Canada in order to activate your new work permit, having it ready will drastically reduce the logistics of this process, and will enable you to communicate your movements with your employer, securing your work, and therefore your future. Thankfully, you do not need to return to the UK in order to activate your new IEC work permit, so this can simply be viewed as an opportunity for a quick holiday!

Is it guaranteed that I will be getting an extra 12 months working holiday permit as UK citizen?

Unfortunately not. As mentioned above, you MUST re-enter the IEC pool in order to become a candidate to receive an Invitation To Apply (ITA). IEC offers a limited number of work permits each year, so there is no guarantee that you will qualify. Only if you are selected in the draws from IEC can you apply for a new 12 months working holiday permit. You might be 100% eligible, but you will still need to receive an ITA. 

If you are currently in Canada on a 24 month working holiday permit, you will need to apply for a new work permit with sufficient time to avoid overlaps. Because work permits are not guaranteed, it is advised that you allow yourself ample time for your application to be processed. 

Can I still use the Biometrics I used for my previous working holiday?

Yes you can. Thankfully, your Biometrics last for 10 years, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about there. 

Can I use the exact same documents I used for my previous working holiday permit?

You must update your documentation. Your resume and Police Certificate were most likely issued while you were still in the UK. If that’s the case, you will need to apply for a new ACRO Police Certificate for the time during which you have been out of the UK.

Additionally, if you have been working abroad in Canada, you will need to update your resume to reflect the experience you have gained during your working holiday. 

Do I need a Canadian police certificate now that I have lived in Canada for 6 months or more?

No, IEC will only request a RCMP if they need one. Generally speaking, there is no need to request one in advance unless officers ask you for it specifically during your work permit application.

You will need to get an updated Police Certificate from the UK (ACRO) that covers the time you have been abroad since your previous certificate was issued. 

Do I need to buy insurance for 12 months now even if I have coverage through the provincial health plan and my employer?

Yes, you have to have private insurance for the full duration of your work permit. Failure to prove that you are fully covered for your stay could result in getting less duration on your work permit. 

It is important that you secure reliable insurance to cover you during your stay, that specifically covers you for any issues that could arise during your stay. Remember that IEC requires that you obtain insurance that covers repatriation, which the provincial programs don’t cover.

What is the difference between a working holiday and the new work permit categories?

The original working holiday visa is an “open work permit” meaning that it enables you to travel and more or less work freely throughout Canada, for a range of different employers.

The International Co-Op (Internship) and the Young Professional categories are “closed work permits” or “employer specific work permits”, which each come with a very specific set of requirements to be eligible.

Working holiday applicants do not need to secure work prior to their application, but young professional and international co-op applicants do.

International Co-op work permits are available only to individuals currently enrolled in post secondary studies, who are required to complete an internship as part of their course curriculum back home. Your work must be clearly related to your field of study, and you may only work for your previously arranged employer. 

Young Professional permits are aimed to professionals. In this case, you will be required to prove that your job offer meets the TEER category 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and that it compliments your qualifications, creating valuable experience that will aid your career development. 

If I obtain a young professional work permit, can I change employers during my stay?

No. This will be a “closed work permits”  or “employer specific work permit”, meaning that you may only work for the employer whom you have applied to work for during your work permit application process.

Should your situation change during your stay, you will not be able to take on work for a new employer without requesting changes to your work permit conditions, which may be approved in specific circumstances, but are not guaranteed and it is a lengthy process. 

How do I activate my new IEC work permit after approval?

The same way as the previous one. Once you have obtained your approval letter (POE), you will need to exit and re-enter Canada in order to activate the new work permit. You can do this by flying out and back to Canada again, or flag-poling. 

Flag-poling is essentially the act of leaving Canada via a border crossing, only to immediately return. It is a common strategy used by non-residents in Canada to activate their visas. This essentially entails crossing a border (generally to the US), which is sufficient to activate your IEC work permit. Alternatively, if you’re up for a little bit of travel and adventure, you could use it as an opportunity for a weekend away!