Canada and Ireland have created more opportunities for youth to travel between each country through the signing of an amendment to the youth mobility agreement.
The youth mobility agreement between Canada and Ireland has been in place since 2003 and is just one agreement out of the reciprocal youth mobility agreements Canada has with 32 countries. The agreements, through International Experience Canada (IEC), are meant to support Canada’s economic and cultural interests, by strengthening the economic, political, and cultural ties between the countries. The program also gives youth the opportunity to travel to new countries and gain unique work experience.
This particular agreement allows Irish and Canadian youth between the ages of 18 to 35 to travel in the opposite country while working. The newly signed amendment to the agreement adds two more categories, Young Professional and International Co-op, on top of the existing category of Working Holiday. Youth with a pre-arranged contract of employment apply to the Young Professional category, and full-time students who have a work placement or internship can apply for the International Co-op category. The number of spaces available for youth travelers also rises with the addition of the two categories, from 6 350 in 2013 to 10 700 across the three categories this year.
The third change the amendment brings is a smoother experience for youth while travelling. Sonia Lesage, a Western Region representative for Communications, Citizenship, and Immigration Canada, says in an email, “As of 2013, Irish youth in the Working Holiday category became eligible to participate in the IEC program once, for a period of up to two years. In the past, Irish youth were able to participate twice in the IEC, but for a maximum of 12 months each time.” The change from two separate periods of 12 months to the single period of 24 months allows Irish participants who are already living and working in Canada to not disrupt their stay by leaving Canada to apply again for their second 12 months.
For those interested in taking part in the program, Lesage says, “Young Canadians thinking about participating in the IEC initiative should plan for their time abroad well in advance. There are many organizations that can help facilitate your work and travel abroad, and many participants seek out their services to plan for their experience abroad.”
Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP) is one organization that helps those Canadian youth interested in the Working Holiday category. SWAP acts as a support system, helping youth with the Visa process and setting up initial accommodation for the first few days after arrival in the host country, if requested. The SWAP program further provides emergency support at anytime for things such as lost passports or health problems. It also has hosting centres, which run arrival orientations that help youth adjust to the new country they will be living in and teach them the basics, such as opening a bank account and getting that country’s equivalent to a SIN, making the transition easier.