Top 10 Questions about the IEC Working Holiday, Answered

The IECs Working Holiday Visa program is one of the most common immigration visa programs used to move to Canada. It’s a fairly easy-going service in so far as immigration programs to Canada are concerned. It allows the recipient to work and travel in Canada simultaneously at the same time for one to two years, on an open work permit.

For the countless youthful immigrants who have a difficult time navigating the complicated application process of most Canadian immigration programs and streams, whose stringent eligibility criteria makes most ineligible to apply, the IEC Working Holiday program presents an opportunity to successfully move to Canada, even if on a temporary basis.

However, even with the more lax eligibility criteria for the Working Holiday program, particularly with regards to work experience and skills, the working holiday programs does have its own fair share of rules, regulations and requirements that have raised a lot of questions among applicants and recipients of the Working Holiday Visa program.

The following is a comprehensive listing of the top ten most frequently asked questions about the working holiday and the most commonly cited answers to each.

IEC Working Holiday

Working Holiday

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a division of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It offers immigration visa services to mostly youthful applicants who either want to work, travel, study and/or visit Canada on a temporary basis.

Its most popular immigration stream is the Working Holiday Visa program. The Canadian Working Holiday program allows young adults from designated countries (we’ll list these countries a bit later) to travel and work in Canada for 12-24 months, moving from job to job throughout the country. The best thing about a Canada Working Holiday is that you can earn money to fund your travels during your stay in Canada.

A working holiday enables you to get to know Canada’s many different cultures, environments and people from all walks of life. This can teach you new approaches to business, experiencing a foreign country, and developing your language skills.

All this can provide you with the knowledge and understanding that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. As a consequence of this, a working holiday in Canada is a fantastic option for those looking to gain life experience - it is hugely beneficial to gaining the requisite Canadian work experience you need to better compete in the global economy and improve your chances of gaining permanent residency in Canada in the future

If you're a travel influencer or love to travel, backpack, and explore new places for a few months, then Canada's unspoiled wilderness and urban splendor awaits you.

Who can Participate in International Experience Canada?

who can participate

In order to be eligible to participate in the IECs Working Holiday Program, you need to be between the ages of 18 to 35 and be a citizen or at the very least resident of a country that has an international youth mobility program.

The working holiday is mostly targeted towards a youthful demographic, which is an immigration target market decision that reflects the service offering of the Working Holiday program. Working and traveling in Canada is in order to gain both work experience and explore a new country are activities and endeavors that are undertaken by mostly youth people.

Here is a table of all the countries with a youth mobility program and whose youth are eligible to apply for a Working Holiday Visa program.

Eligible Countries in the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program
ChileCosta RicaCroatia
Czech RepublicDenmarkEstonia
Hong KongIrelandItaly
JapanKorea, Rep.Latvia
NetherlandsNew ZealandNorway
PolandPortugalSan Marino
UkraineUnited Kingdom

Is a Job Offer Necessary to Submit my International Experience Canada Profile?

A lot of applicants are unsure whether or not they need to have a job offer in order to submit their International Experience Canada application profile.

This is mostly a consequence of their awareness that for the Express Entry Systems Federal Economic Immigration programs like the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP) you need a valid job offer from a Canadian business in order to be eligible to apply.

IECs Working Holiday program takes it for granted that with the low/minimum to no skilled job requirements of the working holiday program most recipients of the working holiday will manage being able to find a job quite easily while traveling to different parts of Canada. Hence a job offer is not necessary for you to submit your IEC profile.

If You’re Almost Too old for International Experience Canada can you Still Apply?If you're too old

If you’re almost too old for the IECs working holiday program, you can still be eligible to apply by submitting your profile into the IEC pool. Once in the pool, it will stay there until:

  • Your birthday (when you no longer meet the age requirements set out by the agreement in place for your country of citizenship)
  • We remove all profiles from the pool, or
  • your profile has been in the pool for 365 days.

If you’re invited to apply for a work permit before your birthday, you have passed the IECs eligibility assessment for the age requirements for a Working Holiday in Canada.

If the IRCC approves your work permit application, you must enter Canada while your Port of Entry (POE) Letter is still valid. You do not have to enter Canada before your birthday.

Can I Immigrate to Canada Using International Experience Canada?

Can you immigrate using the IEC

International Experience Canada and its three programs (Working Holiday, International Cooperative, Young Professionals) are tied to the Temporary Immigration Visa designated to the Canadian government.

To immigrate to Canada permanently you need to apply for permanent residency by primarily applying through the Express Entry, Provincial Nominee and work permit immigration visa programs.

You can use the come to Canada tool on the official IRCC website to determine which ways you’re eligible to use to move to Canada by applying for permanent residency status.

Is it Possible to Study in Canada While Participating in IECs Working Holiday Program?

Is possible to study in Canada

Since the eligible demographic for the Working Holiday program skews very young (between the ages of 18 to 35 years), a lot of applicants and recipients that patronize the services of CanadianVisa understandably query the company and its affiliated College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) RCICs about whether or not they can add studying to their itinerary of work and travel in Canada.

Yes. You are allowed to enroll in individual courses under any of the IEC categories. However, given the 1 to 2 year period of the Working Holiday program that provides only a slight outside chance of extension by renewal, the course(s) must be completed within a six-month period.

They also must not be part of a program lasting longer than six months, such as a two-year program or four-year degree. If the course or program is longer than six months, you will need to apply for a study permit separately from the submission of your IEC Working Holiday application.

Can you Travel With Another Person for International Experience Canada?

Can you travel with another person

Traveling to Canada alone can be a very daunting prospect for many recipients of the Working Holiday Visa. Canada is a vast country with very distinct socio-economic and socio-cultural customs that can be very difficult to navigate alone. 

This circumstance is cause for a lot of recipients to wonder if they can bring someone along with them to Canada on their Working Holiday visa program. If you decide to bring along another person, there is no guarantee that you will both be invited to apply for a work permit through International Experience Canada (IEC).

Should you both have profiles in an IEC pool, it is possible that you could both be invited to apply. This would apply apply even if that person is your:

  • Boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Spouse or common-law partner
  • Sibling
  • Best friend

If one of you gets an invitation to apply before the other, you can accept or decline your invitation. Before you make a decision, check the rounds of invitations page to learn more about your chances of getting an invitation to apply (ITA).

If you Were an IEC Working Holiday Participant how do you Apply to Become a Participant Again?

If you were an IEC working holiday participant

You will have to complete and submit a new profile if you previously:

  • Applied to IEC but weren’t invited to apply or
  • Were accepted and participated in IEC

You should make sure that you’re also eligible to apply again. Please be aware whether or not You are barred from using your profile from the previous year. By the end of each season, we remove all the profiles from all the pools. You will be notified through your account that the pools have closed.

Can you Participate in International Experience Canada More Than Once?

Can you participate more than once

You may be able to participate in International Experience Canada (IEC) more than once. It depends on the agreement between Canada and your country of citizenship.

If you're allowed to participate a second time, you may have to wait a specific period of time before doing so. This waiting period applies to citizens of the following countries:

  • Croatia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Spain

The waiting period starts after your first IEC work permit expires. If you apply for an IEC work permit before the waiting period ends, we'll refuse your application.

Check the eligibility requirements to find out:

  • if you can participate a second time, and
  • how long you need to wait before participating a second time (if this applies to you).

Can you Apply to International Experience Canada and Express Entry at the Same Time?

Can you apply to IEC and EE at the same time

Yes. Create one profile for International Experience Canada and another one for Express Entry. You can use the same account for both profiles.

Can you Enter Canada if You’re Criminally Inadmissible?

Can you apply if criminally inadmissable

By normal standards you cannot enter or stay in Canada if you are inadmissible. However, there are some ways that you can overcome being criminally inadmissible.

If you are inadmissible, you can become admissible again if you:

  • Satisfy an immigration or border services officer that you meet all the legal requirements to be deemed rehabilitated;
  • Apply for individual rehabilitation and receive approval
  • receive a pardon or record suspension

You may also be offered a temporary resident permit if:

  • Your reason to travel to Canada is considered justified in the circumstances; and
  • You do not pose a risk because of your inadmissibility.

Visits considered justified could include family emergencies or business conferences. Pleasure trips are normally not considered justified in the circumstances. This permit has a processing fee of C$200. There are some fee exceptions.

How we can Help you Move to Canada With the IEC’s Working Holiday Program

How we can help you move to Canada

It may be helpful to enlist the help of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) or an immigration lawyer to assist you with the application process, as the application fee is high, it cannot be refunded and it’s something you want to get right the first time around.

If you're unsure of your admissibility, you can always take an eligibility test that will determine if you qualify to enter Canada. If you require more assistance, hiring an RCIC that will guide you is the way to go.


Are the IECs Working Holiday Pools Open all Year Round?

The IECs Working Holiday pools are open only on select periods of the year.

Can you Apply for a Working Holiday Visa if You’re not a Citizen and/or Resident of a Country With an International Youth Mobility Program?

If you're not from a country with an international youth mobility program, you cannot apply for a Working Holiday Visa unless you apply through one of the internationally recognized organizations.

Can you Apply for the IEC Working Holiday if You’re not Within the 18 to 35 Years age Range?

There are currently no exceptions to this rule. If you’re outside of the 18 to 35 years age range, you can’t apply for the Working Holiday Visa program.