What is the IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada program?
It provides temporary work permits to young people from over 30 countries to legally live and get a job in Canada. The permits are valid for either 12 or 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship.
Candidates must create a profile that notifies Canadian authorities of their desire to receive a working holiday visa in Canada. Successful candidates will receive an invitation to complete their application for a work permit. Formally, however, this success is subject to eligibility and availability.
Who can apply?
View the complete list of International Experience Canada participating countries, including the different categories of work permits that are available.
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How to get a Working Holiday visa in Canada
You can create a profile on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
Draws take place at “regular intervals,” where candidates are selected randomly to receive an invitation to apply for a work permit until all places are filled for the year. This means you can create a profile and become a candidate at your leisure, any time after the opening date for your country.
However, your best bet is to become a candidate as early as possible for a working holiday visa in Canada, as this IEC category is trendy. This will expose you to a more significant number of these draws.
You’ll be asked to enter one or more ‘pools’ as determined by country and work permit category. ‘Australia: Working Holiday’ and ‘Ireland: Young Professionals’ are examples of pools.
IRCC has committed to giving at least five days’ notice before each country’s and category’s final rounds of invitations, which will mark the closure of that pool for the season.
Here’s how to become a candidate and receive an invitation to apply for an IEC working holiday visa in Canada.
To be eligible for Working Holiday Visa in Canada, candidates must:
- Be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the 35 countries with a “bilateral youth mobility agreement” with Canada. In other words, one of the International Experience Canada participating countries.
- Have a valid passport for your stay in Canada (the work permit issued will not be longer than the validity of the passport).
- Be between the ages of 18 and 30 or 35 (inclusive) at the time of application. The upper age limit depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship, as outlined in our International Experience Canada country list.
- Have equivalent to CAD$2,500 on landing to help cover initial expenses.
- Be able to take out health insurance for the entire duration of their Working Holiday Visa in Canada (participants may have to present evidence of this insurance at the point of entry in Canada). View providers and get quotes on our health insurance for Canada page.
- Be admissible to Canada.
- Have, prior to departure, a round-trip ticket or the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket for the end of their authorized stay in Canada.
- Not be accompanied by dependants.
- Pay the appropriate fees, as outlined in the ‘Apply for a work permit’ section below.
- Citizens of certain countries are also required to be residents in their country of citizenship when they apply for their Working Holiday Visa in Canada. See residence requirements here.
Become a candidate:
Complete the Come to Canada questionnaire. This is used as an initial assessment of your eligibility for an IEC work permit. If you meet the criteria, you’ll receive a personal reference code.
- Enter this code to create your account.
- Build your IEC profile.
- Submit your profile and choose the IEC pool(s) you want to be in. Some candidates will only be eligible for one pool, while some may be eligible for more.
- At this stage, it’s a case of waiting to be selected, as you’ll need to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) to continue the process. Where numbers in the pool greatly exceed the number of permits available, this will reduce your chances of receiving an ITA.
- If you receive an ITA, you will have ten days to start your application for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada or decline the invitation.
Apply for a work permit:
- Once you press the ‘Start Application’ button to accept the ITA formally, you’ll have 20 days to submit your work permit application and pay any relevant fees.
- In the IEC Young Professional and International Co-op categories, your employer must also pay the CAD$230 employer compliance fee through the employer portal before the 20 days expire. They’ll need to send you the Offer of Employment number they receive so you can enter this in your application.
- Gather and upload all the documents (e.g., police or medical certificates) requested by IRCC. If you don’t have these immediately, you can upload proof that you’ve applied for a police certificate or medical exam.
- Pay relevant fees. To get a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, it will be necessary to pay a participation fee of CAD$150 and an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100.
- IRCC will assess your application and may request additional documents.
- Ensure you bring all the documents required for your arrival in Canada. If your application is successful, a letter of introduction (LOI) will be sent to your account. Bring this with you on your journey to Canada, as you’ll need to present this to an immigration officer at a Port of Entry (POE), such as an airport or border crossing. This is where you’re provided with a work permit.
Other IEC categories
In countries where it is available, the Working Holiday Visa in Canada category is popular as it provides participants with an open work permit, which they can use to work with any employer. You may be eligible for and interested in these other categories:
The Young Professionals category is designed for foreign youth, particularly post-secondary graduates, who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada.
Participants must have a signed employment offer letter or contract of employment with a Canadian employer before applying.
International Co-op (Internship)
The International Co-op (Internship) category is designed for foreign youth enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship.
Applicants must want to complete a work placement or internship in Canada to fulfill part of their academic curriculum and be registered students for the internship duration. Permits issued under this category are generally valid for up to 12 months, though some participants may be issued a longer validity due to their citizenship.
Applicants must have a signed job offer letter or contract for a work placement or internship in Canada that meets their academic curriculum requirements in their citizenship country. The eligibility requirements for the Working Holiday Visa in Canada listed above also apply to the International Co-op category.
Please explore our many resources to help you plan your application. Research is crucial as you plan for success in Canada.