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Canada and Portugal Sign New Youth Mobility Arrangement

May 4, 2018

A new Memorandum of Understanding will give young Canadians the opportunity to live and work in Portugal through the International Experience Canada Program. On 3 May in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad, signed a new bilateral Youth Mobility Arrangement between Canada and Portugal.

Two young female traveler standing on the street and looking at the map

Canada and Portugal enjoy a strong relationship, founded on common values, deep and significant people-to-people bonds, and mutually beneficial commercial relations. Canada is home to a vibrant Portuguese-Canadian community with more than 480,000 Canadians of Portuguese origin. The Working Holiday initiative originated in 1951 as a cultural exchange between Canada and Germany following the Second World War. In 1967, following the success of the initiative, Canada proceeded to create an international travel and exchange program. More than 45 years later, Canada is still very committed to fostering cultural exchanges between young people.

This new agreement brings Canada and Portugal closer together

More than 200,000 Canadians have taken advantage of the work and travel experiences to be gained through the International Experience Canada program, and many return to Canada with life-changing experiences, valuable to both their personal and professional lives. This new arrangement on youth mobility will open further channels of exchange between Canadian and Portuguese young people. It will allow Canadian and Portuguese youth aged 18 to 35 to work and travel through the Working Holiday, International Co-op, and Young Professional streams of the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program. In addition, it will provide an opportunity for up to 2,000 Portuguese youth to travel and work in Canada, while 2,000 young Canadians may travel and work in Portugal per year.

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship stated, “I am pleased that we are able to reach this arrangement with Portugal and further strengthen the great relationship between our two countries. Getting international travel and work experience allows youth to immerse themselves in a different culture and develop life skills, all while improving their employability back at home. This new arrangement will give Canadian and Portuguese youth the opportunity to broaden their perspective of the world and gain a better understanding of each other’s cultures, languages and societies while traveling and working abroad.”

José Luís Carneiro, Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad provided similar support. “I am very happy that we have signed today our Youth Mobility Arrangement which I am confident will give great impetus to people-to-people contacts, thus enabling Canadian and Portuguese youth to gain a better understanding of each other’s culture, language and society. We hope that this instrument will ultimately contribute to bringing us closer together, while improving mutual knowledge of the existing opportunities in both our countries. I encourage our youth to take advantage of the experience that this agreement will provide, embarking on a journey that will enable them to discover different ways and traditions, increasing at the same time their personal and professional wealth.”

About the IEC Program

The IEC Program facilitates the process for young people to gain valuable international work experience and travel abroad and encompasses three categories of participation; Firstly, Working Holiday participants receive open work permits that allow them to work anywhere in the host country, to support their travels. Secondly, International Co-op participants receive employer-specific work permits that allow students to gain targeted experience in their field of study. Finally, 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.

The addition of Portugal adds one more fantastic destination to the 33 partner countries and territories already available to young Canadians looking for an international experience. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, who is currently touring several Canadian cities.

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Government of Canada.