IEC Recognized Organization (RO) Canada Programs

IEC Recognized Organization Overview

As a Recognized Organization (RO) by the Government of Canada, we receive a limited annual quota for IEC RO work permits to help eligible international youth participate in the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program for the first time or under repeat participation.

We are able to help participants that hold a passport from any of the IEC countries that currently have a Youth Mobility Agreement with Canada to secure the following work permit categories:

  • Working Holiday – open work permit
  • Young Professional – employer-specific work permit

Please keep in mind that the duration of your work permit under RO status will follow the Youth Mobility Agreement with your country of citizenship and Canada or in default the max. duration agreed between us, as a Recognized Organization and IEC.

Requirements to participate

In order to apply for any of our IEC RO Programs, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a valid passport from any of the IEC countries.*
  • Be between ages 18 and 35 years old – even when your nationality only allows applications until 30 years old.
  • Complete an individual consultation with our team to make sure we can help.

We offer limited spots for First Participation and Repeat Participation applicants under International Experience Canada.

*Important: We can’t help citizens from non-IEC countries.

First Participation

You’ve probably guessed it, but First Participation is for participants that have never been able to secure an invitation or those who missed the deadline of their POE to travel to Canada. Please see some examples below:

  • You have never participated in IEC before and you would like to secure an invitation to apply (ITA), as your country does not have that many spots available.
    • Example: pools that are very competitive like Chile, Costa Rica, and South Korea
  • Your country of citizenship does not offer a work permit under the Working Holiday or Young Professional category.
    • Example: Working Holiday for Switzerland or Young Professional for the UK.
  • You received an approved IEC work permit (POE) in the past but never got to activate it by entering Canada before the deadline, therefore you are not eligible anymore under regular IEC.
    • Example: During the pandemic, you did not travel before your POE expired and later on you realized that you are not eligible anymore. No worries, we can help!
  • You activated your IEC work permit, but you used it for under six months, losing the rest of the work permit duration.
    • Example: You were starting your working holiday in Canada when the pandemic hit, you lost your job and you decided to go home before the end of your permit. We can help you return to Canada!

Repeat Participation

So, you want to stay in Canada, eh? We don’t blame you! Repeat Participation is for applicants that have previously participated in IEC and want to secure a new IEC work permit. Examples:

  • You are currently in Canada and your work permit will expire next year, but you would like to remain in Canada.
  • You had an IEC permit in the past,  you are now back in your home country and would like to return to Canada using an IEC work permit, but you are not eligible anymore under regular IEC.

Important for in-Canada applicants: If you are currently in Canada, to qualify for Repeat Participation you must have a valid status. Please note that IEC work permits can not be extended, so if your IEC work permit is about to expire, you must apply for an extension as a visitor – this is essential! A new IEC work permit application, even under RO status, will not provide you with maintained status during processing (previously called implied status).

How to Apply for RO

You must wait for us to open registrations for the IEC season. Each year the requirements can change, so keep an eye on this page for updates.

For you to have a general idea, this is how we normally accept applications. We do not assign spots first come first severed. We review the profiles first!

1. Prepare your Most Updated Resume

We must be able to see your experience, so get your resume ready with relevant information. This includes your current address, education, work experience and contact details.

2. Submit a Stepwest Application form

Once you submit your application you will receive an email confirming that we have received your details and will automatically join our waiting list.

We will carefully review your application and if you match the requirements and our quota per country, we will contact you to arrange an online meeting to discuss details.

3. Wait for us – we will reach out!

We can not reach out to all the participants that show interest right away, so you will need to allow us some time to review your case. You do not have to pay to join our waiting list.

4. Meet with us

We do not ask you for payment until we are sure we can help you, which is why we will first meet all our participants.

5. Accepted in our RO IEC Program

Only after that meeting, and after providing the required information, will you receive official confirmation of acceptance into the program and can get started.

IEC 2023 Season

De to the high demand and the limited quota, our RO waiting list is now closed. 

Please note that we have a limited RO quota, therefore will not be able to help every single applicant – we wish we could!


Will IEC profiles from the previous season still be valid for the next season?

Not this time. IEC has already confirmed that all profiles will be deleted. So, if you would like to participate under RO for the next season, you will need to create one from zero.

I had an approved Working Holiday permit in the past, but my POE expired. I tried to apply again but it was denied, can I get approved under RO status?

Yes, even when under regular IEC you might not be eligible to participate anymore, under RO status you will be approved.

Example: You are from the UK and you had an approved Working Holiday (POE) before the pandemic but never applied for an extension, losing your opportunity to enjoy a working holiday in Canada. If you apply under regular IEC you will be denied, but under Recognized Organization you will be approved. 

I am a student/worker in Canada with enough permit duration, can I apply under RO and activate my new RO IEC permit later on?

Yes. As with regular IEC, you will have 12 months to activate your RO IEC permit. You must have a status in Canada to be eligible for this permit, so this is perfect timing for you to secure your next work permit!

Will I receive a work permit approval faster if I use a Recognized Organization?

No, processing times are exactly the same as the regular IEC. The benefit of applying under RO status is that your invitation to apply (ITA) is guaranteed and we will give you access to a permit, that otherwise, you might not be eligible for.

I already used a Recognized Organization in the past, can I participate under Stepwest RO Program again?

Yes, for the next IEC season we will allow participants that used an RO in the past to participate in our IEC RO Program. We could not do this in the past seasons, but we will be offering it again.

My country of citizenship has a discontinuous requirement, will this apply under RO status?

No, it will not. When you apply under a RO the discontinuance requirement does not apply, as per the IRCC website.

Example: You are from Poland, and the regulation under your Working Holiday permit says that you must wait six months to apply again under IEC. This will not apply under our IEC RO Program, as we will be able to help you right away.

I come from a country that has a residency requirement, but I am not living in that country at this time, will I be approved under RO status?

Yes, you will. Some countries like Italy, Spain and Japan require that you are a resident of the country at the time of application. That does not apply under Recognized Organization status, as per the IRCC website.

Example: You hold a passport from Spain, but you have never lived in Spain before. You will not be eligible under regular IEC, but you will be eligible under our IEC RO Program.

FAQs (continued)

What is the age limit for Stepwest as a Recognized Organization?

35 years old, no matter your nationality. As long as you receive your Invitation to Apply (ITA) before your 36th birthday, we can help you! Even if under regular IEC you are only eligible until 30 years old.

Example: You are from Japan, the UK or New Zealand, where the age limit is 30 years old. If you apply with a Recognized Organization, the age limit will be 35 years old instead.

Is my IEC work permit under RO guaranteed?

Yes, as long as you submit a truthful application, and submit all the required documents by the Government of Canada. Exactly like a regular IEC application.

This is why we do a one-to-one meeting with all our participants beforehand. We want to make sure you are eligible. But remember that your work permit application will still be reviewed by IRCC, so you must comply with the requirements.

I currently have an IEC work permit that is about to expire, can I get preference in the waiting list?

No. You will still need to go through the process. Remember that you will not get maintained status during your RO work permit process, so you should apply for an extension as a visitor, at least 30 days before your current work permit expires. Remember that if you lose your status in Canada, we can not help!

Do I need to be in Canada to apply for a RO Repeat Participation under IEC?

Absolutely not. Maybe you did a working holiday in Canada in your early 20s and now you would like to return in your 30s. That’s fine, we can help!

Do I need a medical exam to participate on IEC under RO status?

Only if you also need it under regular IEC.

The regulation is exactly the same, so if your country of citizenship requires a medical exam, you will also need it for your RO application. This is the same if you would like to work in specific fields that require a medical exam. Learn more about the medical exam requirements here.

My passport won't be valid to cover my complete IEC work permit duration, can I still secure a RO work permit?

Yes, but you should have a new passport at the time of activation, so you can get the full duration of your work permit.

You can still apply for your RO work permit with your old passport and even get approved, but make sure you start planning in advance so you can get a new passport. This is especially the case if you are currently in Canada, as the process to get a new passport might take longer.

Remember, getting a new passport means that you will need a new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Learn more about getting a new passport through the IEC process here.

I want to get a second IEC permit but I am in Canada and have Provincial Health Insurance, can I use it to activate my new RO work permit?

No, you can not. You still need insurance that covers you for your complete stay. Provincial plans in Canada are not eligible for IEC. Please learn everything about IEC insurance requirements here. This is very important!

Insurance must be valid for the entire period for which the work permit is sought. Participants can present two consecutive healthcare insurance policies if they were not able to purchase one policy to cover the entire length of their work permit.

Do I need to get new police certificates to participate under IEC with a Recognized Organization?

Only under specific situations. Take a look at this post where we explain everything you need to know about police certificates when applying under International Experience Canada.

Disclaimer: No Legal Advice Provided.

The material on our website and on this webpage is intended to provide only general information to our clients. Although we make our best efforts to ensure that the information found on our website is accurate and timely, do not, under any circumstances, rely on information found on our website as legal or immigration advice. We can not answer client-specific immigration-related questions or provide any immigration advice. For assistance with your specific inquiry, please contact IEC directly through the IRCC website or contact a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).