Canada and France enjoy deep and enduring historical, cultural, linguistic and educational linkages. In order to further strengthen these ties, on March 14, 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault signed a new Youth Mobility Agreement, which will facilitate the movement of youth between the two countries. The announcement was made during Prime Minister Ayrault’s official visit to Canada.
Under the new Agreement, Canadian and French youth will now be able to travel and work in the other country for a total period of up to 24 months, with the exception of participants under the co-op category, who may benefit from an additional period of up to 12 months. In addition, all young Canadians covered by the new Agreement will benefit from a simplified application process to France.
The new Agreement will continue to cover Canadian students wishing to complete part of their university curriculum at a French institution as well as Canadian youth participating under the Student Guide Program, an initiative that allows Canadian students to work as guides at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.
The new Youth Mobility Agreement with France will enter into force once both countries have completed their respective ratification processes. This is expected to occur in 2013.
A Youth Mobility Agreement between Canada and France has been in place since 1956. It was last renewed in 2003.
In 2011, 14,000 French youth came to Canada and 2,780 Canadian youth travelled and worked in France under the Youth Mobility Agreement. The number of Canadian participants in the program is expected to increase as a result of the changes to the Agreement.
The Youth Mobility Agreement is managed by International Experience Canada (IEC), an initiative that helps youth between 18 and 35 years of age experience the world by traveling, living and working abroad. IEC began as a cultural exchange program with Germany in 1951 and, in the more than 60 years since its creation, has expanded to include 32 bilateral youth mobility framework arrangements around the world. Since 1995, over 765,000 participants have taken part in the IEC – 78,349 in 2011 alone.