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Canada and South Korea expands work opportunities for Canadian and South Korean youth

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The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening ties with South Korea, a key partner for Canada in the Indo-Pacific, as we mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries this year.

Today, Ali Ehsassi, Member of Parliament for Willowdale, on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, highlighted the signing of a new Canada–South Korea Youth Mobility Arrangement. Under this arrangement, youth from the two countries will have more options when applying for international work and travel opportunities in each other’s respective country through International Experience Canada (IEC) or the South Korean equivalent.

The new arrangement features a number of improvements over the existing memorandum of understanding signed in 1995:

  • The eligibility age will increase from 18–30 to 18–35.
  • Two new streams—International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals—will be added to complement the existing Working Holiday category.
  • Most youth will also have the option to participate twice in the program—each time for up to 24 months.

The Government of Canada anticipates implementing the new arrangement in 2024. It will open up new opportunities for future work and travel, and further build on our countries’ people-to-people ties while improving labour market access for Canadian and South Korean youth.

“As Canada and South Korea celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations this year, I am very pleased that our two countries have signed a new youth mobility arrangement. International experience and perspectives are particularly important in today’s global economy. That’s why the Government of Canada continues to support and create reciprocal arrangements for Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s country. Thanks to this new youth mobility arrangement, Canadian and South Korean youth will have more opportunities to live, travel and work abroad for longer than ever before, and Canadian employers will have a bigger talent pool to find the workers they need.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“This landmark Canada–South Korea Youth Mobility Arrangement will have a direct and positive impact on the vibrancy of Willowdale by further enhancing cultural exchanges, promoting diversity, and nurturing even more of a global mindset among our talented youth. It will open doors to exciting international opportunities, continue to enrich the fabric of our community and further elevate Willowdale as a hub for global talent and innovation.”

– Ali Ehsassi, Member of Parliament for Willowdale

“I’m very pleased that our two countries have established the new Korea–Canada Youth Mobility Program on the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. This new program will enable many more youth to travel and work in Canada and Korea. Canada is one of Korea’s closest partners because of the two countries’ shared values and interests. The establishment of the program is a remarkable milestone reflecting the depth of our relationship. I am hopeful that it will give future generations who will lead Korea–Canada relations for the next 60 years the opportunity to directly experience and gain a better understanding of each other’s country. This will serve to further enhance our bilateral relations in the decades to come.”

-The Honourable Park Jin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of Korea

Quick facts

  • International Experience Canada (IEC) is a reciprocal program that allows Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s countries. The program has three categories:
    • Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.
    • International Co-op (Internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
    • Young Professionals participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.
  • Canada has signed youth mobility agreements or arrangements with 36 countries and foreign territories.
  • For the 2023 season, Canada is extending this opportunity to nearly 90,000 international youth from partner countries and territories. This expansion will help Canadian employers find the workers they need to fill labour shortages across the country.
  • More than 240,000 Canadians have participated in the IEC Program since 2008, and many have returned to Canada with life-changing experiences valuable to both their personal and professional lives.
  • Youth who need help planning their IEC experience may consider using a recognized organization, which are typically youth service organizations that offer work and travel support. They can be non-profit, for profit or educational, and may charge fees for their services.
  • There are over 218,000 Canadians of Korean descent, according to the 2021 Census.
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