Alas, they made it.
The Youth Mobility Agreement between Italy and Canada, first announced in December 2020 as if it was going to take a few weeks to be implemented, finally came to force in November 2022, nearly two years later. Well that was quick.
For those who don’t know, this much-hyped-up agreement would allow Italian citizens aged 18 to 35 to travel and work in Canada for up to 12 months instead of 6 and participate in the program twice, for a total of 24 months. It would also allow them to participate in two more streams under the International Experience Canada program: Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship), in addition to the already existing Working Holiday.
Cool, right? But here’s the catch.
For those who don’t know, I’m currently on a 6-month open work permit which I received under the Working Holiday Visa program. This new agreement applies to participants who submitted their application before Nov. 1, 2022. So what happens to the rest of us lost souls?
People that are currently in Canada on a 6-month work visa, like myself, won’t be able to extend their permit for 6 more months of work as one of the unquestionable principles of this deal is that it is non-extendable. Instead, we’ll have to start the process all over again to obtain a second and final work permit of 12 months. So people like me will only have 18 months of work in total as opposed to 24. It’s not nothing, but still. When Irish citizens were granted a longer work permit of 24 months in 2013, they were still able to re-participate for the full two years even if they had already participated once during the previous agreement.
Here’s another thing to consider.
Italy has a residency requirement, meaning that, besides being Italian citizens, applicants should also be Italian residents. How is that determined, you might ask? And why is it such a big problem? Basically, all Italian citizens intending to reside abroad permanently should report their new address and sign up in the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad (or AIRE, Associazione Italiani Residenti all’Estero). Luckily, when I applied for my first visa, I was not yet registered in the AIRE, so the IRCC was able to verify that I was, in fact, an Italian resident. In March 2022, my application to the AIRE was approved but didn’t cause any issues when I entered Canada later this year.
Now, however, if I were to apply for a second, 12-month work visa, I would need to re-apply for Italian residency first, which is impossible to obtain without actually setting foot in the country, submitting my profile to Immigration and waiting for them to send me an Invitation to Apply (ITA) to apply for a second open work visa. In a nutshell, it’s a suicide mission–not literally, of course, but it involves a lot of hassle that nobody would want to go through. Besides, I doubt any company would want to wait for that long. They might as well just hire a Canadian citizen or resident to do the job.
Now I wonder, why is the IRCC so difficult with Italians? No other nationality has to respect the same restrictions that we have. And what’s the point of splitting the 24-month period into two rounds? This deal was made for Italians who reside in Italy and who intend to go back to Italy once their experience in Canada is over. Why? Literally what’s the point of that? What’s the point of holding an Italian passport if you need to have proof of residency as well?
I do not get it, and neither do the thousands of Italians who will be affected by this half-assed deal. The positive thing is, now Italians are on the same level as many other nationalities who have always had at least 12 months to work in Canada as opposed to 6 months which, in terms of employment opportunities, are absolutely nothing.
We’ll see how this choice will affect Italians once the new rounds of invitations start on Jan. 9.