Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced its plans to improve its processing of International Experience Canada (IEC) work permits by expanding the use of automation technology.

This news became official on Tuesday, with Ottawa issuing the notice regarding a new tool to process IEC work permit applications by triaging them on the basis of their complexity and approving eligibility for routine applications.

Most clerical and repetitive tasks related to application sorting are taken care of by the IEC work permit tool, allowing officers to focus on assessing applications and rendering a final decision on them.

The triage function of the tool uses rules developed by “experienced IRCC officers,” based on the program’s legislative and regulatory criteria.

Simultaneously, the tool’s eligibility function is responsible for identifying routine applications for streamlined processing, using criteria the officers developed.

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The file is then sent to an officer to determine whether the applicant is admissible to Canada and make the final decision. Files whose eligibility is not automatically approved may still be manually approved following review by an officer. No application is refused by the automated tool – always an officer.

Files are directed to officers for further processing based on office capabilities and officer expertise.

According to IRCC, this new measure will improve departmental efficiency by making decisions faster for certain applicants. It will also support IEC growth and facilitate the work and travel opportunities for international youth in Canada.

“Automated tools are part of IRCC’s commitment to using technology responsibly to build a stronger immigration system for all of our clients,” read the department website page on this topic.

“IRCC reviews the tools regularly so they work as intended and results are consistent with applications that receive a full human review.”

“IRCC is committed to responsibly developing and deploying data-driven technologies in line with privacy requirements and human rights protection.”

The department further added that as part of “this work” and building from 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 impact level of the systems was categorized as “moderate” by the AIA, and a number of measures have been emplaced to mitigate any risk possibilities.

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These measures include a review for potential discriminatory impacts, privacy and security elements built into the tool design, and the ability for officers to overturn the tool’s decision.

International Experience Canada

IEC is aimed at youths aged 18 to 35 (18 to 30 in some countries) who want to come to Canada to work and travel.

The fee for the program is $161, and the processing time for the 2023 season is generally four weeks after all documents (including biometrics) have been submitted.

It allows youth to travel and work in Canada for 2 years, with three work/travel experiences available:

  • Working Holiday
  • Young Professionals
  • International Co-op (Internship)

Citizens of partner countries may be able to apply to one or more of the three aforementioned categories.

Individuals who are not citizens of a partner country may still be able to apply to IEC through a recognized organization.

IEC participants are protected by Canadian labour laws.

The employer:

  • must pay you the minimum wage for your work
  • must ensure your workplace is safe
  • can’t take your passport or work permit away from you

IEC participants can’t work for non-compliant employers who are currently banned.

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