Canada and Italy have signed a deal to extend the lengths of stays allowed under the International Experience Canada program.
Under the Youth Mobility Agreement which has yet to be ratified by the two countries, Canadian and Italian youth between 18 and 35 years old will be able to work and travel in those countries for up to 12 months.
They will also be able to participate in the program twice, allowing them to work and travel in the other country for up to two years. They will also be able to gain professional work experience through the International Co-op and Young Professional streams.
Under the current youth mobility agreements Canada has with 36 other countries and territories, most young adults from abroad can only stay in Canada for six months.
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Due to the Covid-19 global pandemic, Canada’s borders are now closed to all but essential travel. This new agreement will kick in once international travel is again deemed safe.
“I’m very pleased that we were able to reach this agreement with Italy, which will provide both Canadian and Italian youth with even more opportunities to live, travel and work abroad once it is safe to do so,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in making the announcement.
“We live in an increasingly interconnected world where innovation often comes from those who have traveled widely, who have an appreciation for other cultures, and whose eyes have been opened to new ideas, insights and ways of doing things. This contributes to strengthening ties between Canada and Italy, and the diversity and economic strength of our two countries,” he said.
Youth mobility agreements, first inked by Italy and Canada 14 years ago, are part of the International Experience Canada Program which helps young people gain international work experience. Due to the pandemic, only youth with current and valid job offers can travel to Canada under the IEC for the time being.
Canada has strong cultural and historical ties to Italy. There are more than 1.5 million Canadians able to claim Italian ancestry or about 3.9 per cent of Canada’s population of 37.7 million.
During the announcement of this latest agreement, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio expressed his hope that the bilateral agreement would further strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
“This agreement, aimed at strengthening the exchange of experience and knowledge between Italian and Canadian citizens and at creating new opportunities for vocational training responds to a deeply felt need by today’s youth,” said Di Maio. “I am certain that it will help further strengthen the already excellent bilateral relations between Italy and Canada.”
There are three categories under the IEC program.
Under the Working Holiday category, candidates receive open work permits that allow them to work anywhere in the host country. It is for candidates looking to fund a vacation with temporary work in Canada who:
- don’t have a job offer;
- want to work for more than one employer;
- want to work in more than one location, and;
- would like to earn some money so they can travel.
The International Co-Op or internship category provides candidates with employer-specific work permits for students to gain experience in their fields of study. These students must:
- be registered at a post-secondary institution;
- have a job offer for a work placement or internship in Canada;
- have the work placement or internship as a requirement to complete their studies, and;
- work for the same employer in the same location during their stay.
Participants in the Young Professionals category receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path. They must:
- have a job offer in Canada that contributes to their professional development;
- work for the same employer in the same location during their stay in Canada, and;
- undertake paid work that does not come from self-employment.