3 Ways to Move to Canada Without Work Experience

So, you want to move to Canada but don't have any work experience. You may be thinking about your chances of gaining the ability to stay in Canada without at least some history of employment. However, you shouldn't give up just yet. Many people believe that you cannot move to Canada without work experience. However, this isn't necessarily the case.

Canada has hundreds of visa and immigration programs. Many don't require applicants to have any work experience to be eligible to stay in Canada. Many of these programs open up opportunities to becoming a permanent resident in Canada, provided you do what's needed. Three primary programs generally give applicants the best chance to live, study and work when they move to Canada without work experience.

The Post Graduate Work Permit Program


The Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) provides recent graduates of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) in Canada with a work permit. This allows them to stay and work in Canada until they've built up sufficient work experience to either extend their work permit or progress to permanent residence. A Canadian DLI is a post-secondary educational institution designated by a government or provincial authority to enroll international students.


To be considered eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), you have to have fulfilled the following requirements:

Have completed your academic, professional or vocational training at a DLI in Canada;
  • Have studied full-time;
  • Have a transcript and official letter from your DLI proving you've completed the requirements to obtain your qualification;
  • Have studied in Canada in a program of at least 8 months and no longer than 3 years.
  • The time your PGWP would be valid coincides with the length of time your qualification program took. Below is a relatively simple guide on how long you can work out the length of your work permit.

    Determining the Length of Your PGWP

    Length of Study Program Length of Work Permit
    Eight months - two years Same length as your study program (Master's and Doctoral candidates may be eligible for a three-year work permit)
    Two years or longer Three years
    More than one program completed within two years Length of both programs

    How To Apply

    Applicants for a PGWP must apply within 180 days of receiving written confirmation that they've completed their studies from their DLI, such as an official transcript. Once they have their guarantee, the best place to apply for a PGWP is on the Government of Canada's website. The requirements for application differ depending on the country you're using from, and you can find a full breakdown of each country's needs on the website.

    How Can This Lead to Permanent Residence?

    Once you get your PGWP, you can live and work in Canada long enough to qualify for the Canada Experience Class (CEC). This is one of the streams of Canada's Express Entry immigration program. However, the CEC requires you to live in Canada for at least 12 months to gain permanent residence.

    To find out how to apply for a permanent residency via the CEC or other Express Entry streams, click the button below. You'll get to talk to someone who can show you what program you're most eligible for and how to apply for it.

    The Working Holiday Visa Program


    Suppose you're looking to come to Canada for the chance to work and travel. In that case, the best visa pathway for you is getting a Canada Working Holiday Visa via the International Experience Canada (IEC). This visa program is specifically designed for young people travelling through Canada, allowing them to earn money while they stay. It's primarily for those looking for contract or seasonal work in Canada, such as ski instructors, fruit pickers, or summer camp guides.

    What does it allow?

    The Working Holiday Visa is a temporary open-work permit allowing you to work for any company in Canada for your work permit. It also allows you to move around Canada and move from job to job throughout Canada, provided you can fund yourself. However, there are requirements to get a Canada Working Holiday Visa.

    Before you apply

    Due to the openness of the work permit and the fact that you don't need work experience for a Canada Working Holiday Visa, it has many essential criteria to fulfil. One of the most important criteria for a Working Holiday Visa is that a Working Holiday Visa is only available to 35 countries worldwide. Therefore, if you are from one of the countries listed below, you can apply for a Canada Working Holiday Visa.

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

    If you aren't on that list, you may still be able to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. However, you must apply via a recognized organization like GO International, SWAP Working Holidays or Stepwest.

    Certain countries only allow you to get a Working Holiday Visa once. Others allow you to do so twice, but only in different streams. Even if you get multiple Invitations To Apply (ITAs) for the IEC, you won't get your Working Holiday Visa if your country won't allow it. So make sure you know your country's status before applying.

    What do I need?

    You must fulfill other basic requirements, outside of making sure you're from one of the 35 listed countries, before starting the application process to ensure your best chances. They are as follows:

    • Valid passport
    • Aged 18-35 (the cut-off is 30 for certain countries)
    • $2,500 to cover initial expenses
    • Health insurance
    • Police clearance certificate
    • Round-trip ticket or sufficient funds to cover one
    • No dependent

    If you have everything you need, it's time to apply.

    How to Apply

    The Working Holiday Visa Program is draw-based. The Canadian government puts applications into a pool, granting the best applications a Working Holiday Visa. Once you've guaranteed your eligibility for a Working Holiday Visa and gathered your documents and funds, there are three significant steps.

    Step 1: Create an online profile

    You'll be asked questions based on the criteria listed above.

    Step 2:Wait for the working Holiday Visa draw.

    If you're successful, you'll receive an ITA. Once you receive this invitation, you have 10 days to complete your profile.

    Step 3:Apply within 20 days of receiving your ITA.

    You can find all of the necessary application forms and portals on the website of the government of Canada.

    Other IEC programs

    Under the IEC, two other programs can allow applicants without any work experience a chance to work in Canada.

    The Young Professionals Program

    This stream allows university or college graduates seeking employment in Canada to work for a Canadian company, even if they don't have prior work experience. You'll need a signed employment letter from a Canadian company to qualify for this stream.

    International Co-op Internship

    This program is specifically for students who are still studying in their country of origin and are looking to gain work experience in their field of study in Canada. Like the Young Professionals Program, the International Co-op Internship requires a job offer from a Canadian company for all applicants.

    Family Sponsorship


    If you don't plan to come to Canada to study and work in Canada, there is still a fantastic program. The Canada Family Sponsorship program allows foreigners with a family member, guardian, spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to move to Canada without work experience. This program was designed with the express purpose of keeping immigrating families together. There are only a few requirements to fulfill for a person to be eligible to be your sponsor.

    Who is eligible?

    The sponsor must be:

    • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
    • At least 18 years old
    • Living in Canada
    • Financially able to sponsor the applicant

    However, rules are blocking certain people from becoming sponsors if they:

    • Receive social assistance (excluding social disability)
    • sponsored someone else within 3 years after becoming a Canadian permanent resident
    • Have previously defaulted on an immigration loan or performance bond
    • Have not paid alimony or child support (if applicable)
    • Have been convicted of a crime
    • Were sponsored yourself and became a permanent resident of Canada less than 5 years ago
    • Are in a jail, prison, or a reformatory
    • Are under some form of a removal order
    • Have declared bankruptcy

    To find out more about what does and doesn't allow you to be eligible for Canada Family Sponsorship, look at the Government of Canada's instruction guide.

    To check your eligibility through the generation of a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, you can do so by visiting our CRS score calculator page here on our site.

    How long can someone sponsor you for?

    This depends on your age, relationship with the sponsor and which province you're in. Quebec has slightly different laws than the rest of Canada, so make sure you know the laws of the province you plan to go to when you immigrate to Canada.

    Person you sponsor Length of undertaking in all provinces (except Quebec) Length of undertaking in Quebec
    Spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner 3 years 3 years
    Child under 13 years old 10 years 10 years, or until age 18 (whichever is longer)
    Child 13 to 19 years old until age 22 3 years or until age 22 (whichever is longer)
    Parent or grandparent 20 years 10 years
    Other relative 10 years 10 years

    How to apply

    The Government of Canada has set out 6 steps to completing your Canada family sponsorship application. They are as follows:

    Step 1. Get your application kit

    This you get from the Canadian government's website. It includes your checklist, instructions for going about the process and necessary application forms.

    Step 2. Gather your documents

    This is when you use the government's checklist to make sure you and your sponsor to make sure you have all the necessary documentation to apply to the program.

    Step 3. Fill out the forms

    Download and fill out every application form on the Canadian government's website and re-upload them to the Canadian immigration portal.

    Step 4. Pay the fees

    Pay the necessary processing fees.

    Step 5. Check your application to avoid common mistakes

    Before submitting your application, ensure every last form, document and fee are covered. Any errors can slow down or stop the processing of your application.

    Step 6. Submit the application

    Submit your forms and documents to the Canadian government portal and wait for your application to be processed.


    How can a PGWP be rejected?

    Yes, there are a wide array of reasons, but the 7 most common ones are

  • You studied at a non-eligible PGWP institution
  • You studied part-time in the past
  • You took a study gap that wasn't an official vacation
  • Your study permit's expired
  • You applied outside of the 90-day restoration period
  • You cannot provide your transcripts
  • You worked more than 20 hours a week when you only had a study permit

  • Can spousal sponsorship be denied?

    Yes. If the immigration officer is not convinced of the validity of the marriage, they can refuse the application. You can also be banned from entering Canada for five years for misrepresentation.

    How do I extend my Canada working holiday visa?

    You can extend your visa as a visitor if you apply at least 30 days before your work permit expires. This will give you a further 6 months in Canada.

    No experience, no problem


    You know three simple ways to move to Canada without work experience. However, there are plenty more ways to immigrate to Canada, with or without work experience. To find which of the hundreds of immigration and visa programs are perfect for you, click the button below to talk to an RCIC, who will be more than happy to help.