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Ultimate Guide to an Epic Working Holiday in Canada

It’s nearly that time of year again and as the season approaches thousands of applicants have already started to prepare their application for the ever-popular IEC Working Holiday Visa Program in Canada. If you’re familiar with the program or have read any articles about the program you may be aware that this is probably one of the most competitive and popular visa programs that Canada has to offer, besides the Express Entry system.

What makes it so popular? Every year travellers, students and volunteers from over 30 countries from all across the globe apply to take part in this incredible program to travel and work in Canada.

Why Canada? You should be asking yourself where else in the world you’d you rather be instead? Think Northern Lights, the majestic Canadian Rockies, exploring the emerald green waters of Lake Lousie, snowboarding down the slopes of Whistler Resort, hiking through one of 48 national parks all while working in Canada and funding your holiday abroad! Sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

Take a look at a few of the adventures you could be having in 2021 and beyond!

Ready for your adventure to begin? Before you start packing and strapping on your backpack and hiking boots to hit the trail to Canada, let's take a look at everything you need to know about planning an epic working holiday in Canada that you’ll ever forget!


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What is the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program?

Traveller looking out over lake at Canadian Rockies | Working Holiday Visa Canada

The International Experience Working Holiday (IEC) Working Holiday Visa Program in Canada is a program dedicated to not only open up the doors to explore Canada's breathtaking beauty and vibrant cities but also give applicants the chance to network, make friendships and gain valuable and unforgettable experiences. 

Eligible applicants are placed into pools of candidates and will be selected to apply for a visa through the program. 

There are 35 participating countries, each with a designated amount of placements available in three different streams or categories.


What is a Working Holiday Visa?

A Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is a document that allows you to travel and work in Canada on a temporary basis for a specified length of time (generally 12 to 24 months). 

Once you apply for a WHV and your application is accepted you will automatically receive an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which allows you to enter Canada. This document will only allow you to enter the country, not work in Canada. 

You will have to apply for either an open or employer-specific work permit in order to legally work in Canada. The type of work permit you'll need will depend on the type of working holiday visa you apply for.


Working Holiday Visa Types

Smiling African American man holding Canada passport | Working Holiday Visa Canada

You can apply through  three Canadian Working Holiday Visa categories under the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program:

  • The Working Holiday Category - this is a great option for you if you want the flexibility to work and travel at your own pace, anywhere in Canada.
  • The Young Professionals Category - if you want to gain professional work experience to kick your resume up a notch and compete on a global scale, this is the one for you.
  • The International Co-op Category - perfect if you want to gain valuable international work experience that’s relative to your chosen field of study and explore all that Canada has to offer while you’re at it!

Once you have been invited to apply for your visa via one of these categories you will be able to live and work in Canada and discover just how amazing Canada really is. But don’t take our word for it. Come and experience it for yourself through the IEC Working Holiday program in 2021!

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a look at some of the requirements of this incredible program.

Can I Apply?

If you are:

  • between the ages of 18 and 30 (35) years old; 
  • Have a valid passport or travel document; 
  •  Have a minimum of CAD $2,500 in funds; 
  • Have health insurance to cover your full stay in Canada; 
  • Are admissible to Canada; 
  • Have a round trip ticket or sufficient fund to buy a ticket home; 
  • Are not travelling with dependents; and 
  • Are a citizen of one of the 35 participating countries

you could be eligible to travel and work in Canada for up to 12 or 24 months through one of the 3 IEC Working Holiday Programs, depending on where you’re from.

What Countries Can Get A Working Holiday Visa For Canada?

Take a look at the list below to see if you are a citizen of one of the qualifying countries!


Eligible Countries in the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program
CountryWorking Holiday Visa             Number of Times You Can Apply
AustraliaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Working Holiday - Once (If you took part in IEC one or more times before 2015, you may be eligible to take part in more time for up to 24 months)
Young Professionals - Once
International Co-op - Once (If it is your first application, you may apply once more through either Working Holiday or Young Professionals)
                                    If you took part in IEC before 2015, you may be eligible to take part in more time for up to 24 months
AustriaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once per category
BelgiumWorking Holiday VisaOnce
ChileWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under any category
Costa RicaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
CroatiaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under any category (3-month break between expiry date and the next application submission date)
Czech RepublicWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
DenmarkWorking Holiday VisaOnce
EstoniaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
FranceWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once (If you took part in IEC once before 2015, you may be eligible to take part in more time for up to 24 months)
GermanyWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
GreeceWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
Hong KongWorking Holiday VisaOnce
IrelandWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once (If you took part in IEC once before 2013, for a period of up to 12 months, you may be eligible to take part in more time for up to 24 months)
ItalyWorking Holiday VisaOnce
JapanWorking Holiday VisaOnce
Korea, Rep.Working Holiday VisaOnce
LatviaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
LithuaniaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
LuxembourgWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once
MexicoWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under any category (3-year break between expiry date and the next application submission date)
NetherlandsWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
Twice under a different category each time.
New ZealandWorking Holiday VisaOnce
NorwayWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time.
PolandWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under a different category each time. (6-month break between expiry date and the next application submission date)
PortugalWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once
San MarinoWorking Holiday VisaTwice
SlovakiaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under different category each time. (3-month break between expiry date and the next application submission date)
SloveniaWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under different category each time.
SpainWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under different category each time. (3-month break between expiry date and the next application submission date)
SwedenWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under different category each time.
SwitzerlandYoung Professionals
International Co-op
Twice (combined duration not to exceed 18 months)
TaiwanWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Once
UkraineWorking Holiday Visa
Young Professionals
International Co-op
Twice under any category
United KingdomWorking Holiday VisaOnce - If you took part in IEC once before 2015, for a period of up to 12 months, you may be eligible to take part in more time for up to 24 months

What Documents Do I Need to Apply?

If you are eligible for one of the above-mentioned Working Holiday Canada programs you will need:

  • Police Certificate;
  • CV/Resume;
  • Passport;
  • Digital photo;
  • Family information form;
  • Proof of school registration (International co-op applicants); or
  • Internship agreement (International co-op applicants);
  • Volontariat International en Entreprise (VIE) (if applying through the Business France VIE Program); or
  • Recognized Organization acceptance letter (if applicable).

What Documents Do I Need After I’ve Applied?

Once you have been notified that your application is successful you will need:

  • Proof of financial support;
  • Medical Exam;
  • Health insurance;
  • Visitor visa or electronic travel authorization;
  • Biometrics; and
  • Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction.



How Do I Get A Working Holiday Visa For Canada?

Two young happy woman working on laptop and talking on phone | Working Holiday Visa Canada

Step 1: Check if You Qualify

Before you create your online profile it’s important to make sure that you are, firstly, eligible to travel to Canada and secondly find out if you qualify for any of the three IEC programs. You must be a citizen of one of the participating countries and be between the ages of 18 and 30/35 years old (dependant on your country of citizenship). The IEC has an online tool that allows you to check if you are eligible for any of the categories.

Step 2: Gather Your Supporting Documents

The IEC Working Holiday Program is an exceptionally popular program and as soon as the season opens you can be sure that there will be other applicants ready and waiting to submit their applications. Don’t get left behind scrambling to get your paperwork in order. It may take a little bit of preparation and extra work now but it will make your application process much simpler and streamlined when the time comes to submit your application. Take a look at our list of supporting documents above.

Step 3: Create Your Online Profile

This profile contains your personal information and you will be asked to answer a few online questions, including your full names, date of birth, place of birth and contact information, to name a few

Please note that you will need your passport to complete your profile.

Step 4: Submit Your Profile

Once you have submitted your profile you will be notified of which programs you qualify for and you will then be able to submit your profile to the draw pools of your choice. If successful, you will receive an invitation to apply for a work permit.

Step 5: Enter the Draw Pool

At this point, your application will be entered into draw pools. You may be eligible for more than one pool and may need to identify what your order of preference would be as you will only receive an invitation to apply for one program. 

This process takes roughly 4 - 8 weeks and the IRCC will check to see if you qualify for a work permit, that you have all the necessary supporting documents as well as do employer checks.

It is highly recommended that you do not do any of the following before your application has been approved:

  • Buy a plane ticket for any travel to Canada 
  • Buy health insurance for your stay in Canada 
  • Make commitments to your prospective employer in Canada 
  • Commit to any accommodation in Canada 
  • Cancel your accommodation or 
  • Leave your job or studies in your home country

Ultimate Guide to an Epic Working Holiday in Canada infographic

Step 6: Accept Your Invitation

If your Canada Working Holiday Visa application is successful, you will receive your invitation from the IEC and will have to let the IRCC know that you have chosen to accept your invitation within 10 days. 

Step 7: Apply for Your Work Permit

Which work permit you apply for depends on the IEC program you've received an ITA for.

  • Working Holiday - Open Work Permit
  • Young Professionals - Employer-specific Work Permit
  • Co-op (Internship) - Employer-specific Work Permit

Step 8: Pay Your Fees

You will then have 20 days to submit your application for your work permit and pay your application fees.

How much you need to pay will depend on which program you have chosen to apply for.

Below is a breakdown of fees you’ll need to pay for each IEC Working Holiday Program.


IEC Fees
CategoryFees (CAD)
All IEC CategoriesParticipation Fee - $153
BiometricsDepends Where You are Submitting Them
Working Holiday VisaOpen Work Permit - $100
Young ProfessionalsEmployer Compliance Fee - $230 (your employer is liable to pay this fee before you submit your work permit application)

Once all your fees have been paid you can submit your application. The application processing time for a work permit is usually around 4 weeks.

Top Tip: If you can pay your biometrics fees online do it. This will save you valuable time. Here’s why.

Step 9: Submit Your Biometrics

You have three options to pay your biometrics fees:

  • Online
  • By mail
  • At a Visa Application Centre (VAC)

Paying for your biometrics fee online when you submit your application will save you time. You will have 30 days to submit your biometrics, which you will have to do in person, so the quicker you receive your biometrics instruction letter the better. You should receive it within 24 hours of paying your fees.

Paying for your fees after you’ve submitted your application, whether online or by mail could mean you’ll have to wait a few days to get your letter which will delay the whole application process.

You will need to book an appointment to submit your biometrics. Find out where the nearest collection point is here.

Step 10: Receive Your Port of Entry Letter (POE)

If all goes well and your work permit application is a success you will receive your Port of Entry Letter (POE). It is important to note that a POE does not guarantee that you will be allowed to enter Canada nor that you will get a work permit. It is therefore important to ensure that you have met all requirements regarding admissibility to Canada as well as any other requirements stipulated by the IEC program.

We’d also like to highlight that once you receive your POE letter you will be considered to have taken part in the program, which means that even if you don’t use the letter and it expires you may not be able to apply to that program again. This is something that most working holiday visa applicants are unaware. 

Let's take a look at some other errors frequently made by Canada working holiday applicants. 

Top Mistakes Made When Applying for a Canada Working Holiday Visa

13 mistakes You’re making with your Canada Working Holiday Visa Application infographic

For more information about the most common mistakes made during working holiday visa applications visit our blog here.

Need help with your application? Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants have years of experience and are ready to help guide you on your Canadian adventure!



Top Working Holiday Jobs in Canada

baristas in coffee shop | Working Holiday Visa Canada infographic

Finding a part-time job in Canada on a working holiday visa is not always as easy as it seems. Many travellers think that they can easily just walk into a great job that will pay for their entire trip but this is not true. You will have to have some funds as a backup and although it is possible to find a job unexpectedly it doesn’t hurt to know where to look when you first arrive in Canada.

Here are some of our top choices for working holiday jobs that will not only give you the freedom to travel in Canada but earn a decent wage on your upcoming working holiday in Canada.

1. Write About It

Are you a budding Hemingway? If writing is your passion and talent then you may be able to find various ways to earn a loonie or two while you’re venturing through Canada. You could approach a travel website and write commissioned pieces or become a freelance writer for online publications. Not only will you be able to improve your portfolio but your writing skills too. And hostels are a great place to base yourself to do this. Who knows you may even be able to negotiate your room and board in exchange for a post or two for their website. The opportunities are endless.

2. Allied Health Professionals

Did you know that having an allied health care qualification could be your ticket to making good money while travelling abroad on a working holiday in Canada? Healthcare professionals are highly in demand across the globe, especially in sectors of care for aged or disability sectors.

You will need to be qualified and have at least 1 year of work experience. This will be a rewarding experience in more ways than one, not only will you be able to fulfil a sense of purpose but you will be able to satisfy your own desire to explore different opportunities in our beautiful country.

3. Virtual Assistants

This is a sector that has been growing over the past few years as entrepreneurs start to require personal assistants to run their day-to-day tasks.  You may be asked to do anything from running their social media platforms, website maintenance and design, emaIl admin, editing, writing and even market research. So if you have good organization, planning and research skills, this diverse job will be perfect for you, especially if you have prior experience in administration.

You will need to be fluent in English and/or French depending on where in Canada you'll be located and will need a laptop as well as a reliable internet and/or phone connection.

4. Barista/Bar/Restaurant Work

This is probably one of the most common working holiday jobs that you'll be able to find on your travels to Canada. Not only can you enjoy serving friendly patrons but Canadians are known to be generous tippers and the average food and beverage server are tipped between 15-20%. 

Start off by looking at your own hostel and if they don't have any positions available they should be able to point you in the direction of your next best option. Most hostels will also have information boards that will often have great opportunities for travellers looking for part-time work.

Do note, however, that Canada is a stickler for maintaining its high standards of health and safety in the service industry and you may be required to acquire a Serve it Right certification (a program for service training). You may also require Food safe certification (one day course) if working in the foodservice industry in British Columbia. An occupational first aid certificate is not a must but would be a big advantage.

5. Farm Work

This may not sound like the most appealing job but it can be quite a fun and rewarding experience. You'll make tonnes of friends and the payment is competitive and could also include room and board which will not only help to cut down on your travel costs but you'll be able to save up for your next adventure a lot quicker. 

The types of farm jobs in Canada could range anywhere from fruit picking to feeding and caring for livestock. It all depends on your preference and what type of work you would be comfortable and able to do.

6. Au Pair

If you love working with children and have some experience this could be the perfect option for your working holiday adventure. Not only will you find plenty of jobs available but most packages are quite attractive and usually includes basic room and board on top of your salary.

7. Housesitter

If you are an animal lover and don't mind taking care of the general upkeep of someone's home this could be of the simplest options to cover your accommodation. Some jobs don't always pay but this is a great way to explore the city that you're in at your own pace.

8. Web Design

This is a great option to make money while you're travelling. You could either offer your service to the hostel you're staying at or simply find freelance jobs online. Although you will have deadlines that need to be met, you'll have plenty of time to travel in between and will have the flexibility of working the hours that you prefer as opposed to working set hours.

9. Teach

The opportunities are endless here. Ask yourself what your top skills or passions are, and chances are there will be people out there who not only share in your interests but are willing to pay for your services and knowledge. Whether your passion lies in dance, yoga, scuba diving, surfing, skiing or snowboarding you'll find plenty of great opportunities to put your talent to good used and get paid for it too!

Note: Because Canada's official languages are English and French you may not find as many jobs in Canada as you would in South East Asia, for example, but remember that over 20% of Canada's population are foreigners, many of whom are always seeking to improve their language skills. So if you have a TEFL or CELTA qualification you could find a job at a language centre or offer your services as a private English tutor.

10. Tour Guide

If you plan to be located in a city for a while and get the chance to really get to know the area you may be able to find a job as a tour escort through budget tour companies. If you have a bubbly personality and enjoy meeting new people every day (and don't mind visit the same spots more than once) this may be a great way for you to pay for your travels in Canada.

Need help finding working holiday jobs in Canada? Here are some sites you could take a look at to help get you started:



Get Packing!

Flatlay of camera, travel journal and world map  | Working Holiday Visa Canada

So you've applied and have received the great news that you'll be jetting off to Canada for an exciting trip! What's next? Well, its time to pack your bags of course! We've created the ultimate packing list for Canadian Working Holiday adventure. Take a look!

Essentials

  • Some cash converted to Canadian currency (around $200 CAD). You may also bring currency from your home country and convert it in Canada as the rates are generally better.
  • Debit/Credit cards from your home country in case of emergency (check with your bank to see if you are able to use your cards overseas, and how much the service will be as well)
  • Medication that you are currently taking, and a copy of your prescription or a doctor’s note
  • Plane ticket/hotel or hostel booking info

Important Documents

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate or official ID
  • Port of Entry Letter of Introduction
  • Proof of Funds
  • Proof of Health Insurance
  • Ticket of departure
  • Copy of host company job offer(International Co-op)
  • Copy of hotel/hostel contact info and directions
  • International drivers license (if renting a car)

Clothing

  • Interview/business casual clothing (solid neutral shades)
  • Casual everyday clothing (shorts, t-shirts, dresses, jeans, pants etc.)
  • A few pairs of shoes - be sure to pack some quality hiking boot and socks if you plan to go trekking
  • PJs to sleep in
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Raincoat/windbreaker (if you intend to go hiking)
  • Hiking gear
  • Fleece jacket (all seasons)
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
  • Light gloves (all season)
  • Waterproof shoes/boots
  • Light walking shoes/sandals

Toiletries

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Bar of soap/facial cleanser
  • Body lotion/facial moisturizer
  • Lip balm
  • Hair products
  • Make-up and makeup remover
  • Feminine products
  • Contact lens solution(if applicable)
  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen SPF30 (even in winter)
  • Grooming kit (razor, nail clippers, tweezers etc.)
  • Travel towel (microfibre)

Electronics

  • Small camera + charger + extra battery
  • Memory Cards (bring a few - you'll have so many memories to capture)
  • Laptop/Tablet + charger
  • E-reader + charger
  • USB
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Voltage adapter and travel plug adapter (Canadian voltage is 120v)

Odds & Ends

  • Sewing kit
  • First Aid kit
  • Compact umbrella
  • Pens and notebook
  • Backpack(day pack) or carryon (in addition to luggage)
  • Travel Pillow/Blanket
  • Life straw water bottle
  • Waterproof phone case or waterproof bag
  • Insect repellant

Items for Resort Jobs

  • Heavy sweaters (wool based)
  • Hoodies
  • Winter coat
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • A scarf
  • Ski goggles
  • Ski/snow boots
  • Snow hat or toque 
  • Ski helmet 
  • Thermal underwear (polyester, nylon or Thinsulate)
  • Waterproof Ski Jacket
  • Waterproof ski pants
  • Waterproof socks
  • Waterproof ski gloves/mittens
  • High SPF sunscreen/heavy duty lip balm
  • Ski equipment (optional - can buy or rent in Canada)

FAQs

FAQs | Frequently asked Questions about the Working Holiday Visa Canada

1. How long does it take to get a working holiday visa for Canada?

The average processing times for a Working Holiday Visa for Canada can take 72 weeks on average but could take anywhere from x to x depending on which country you are applying from.

2. How Long Is A Working Holiday Visa?

A working holiday visa can range anywhere from 12 to 24 months depending on your country of citizenship and internship p[osition offered (if applicable).

3. How Much Does a Working Holiday in Canada Cost?

  • Visa processing fee - $153 Work permit (per person) - $155
  • Open Work permit Holder - $100 (you must pay both work permit +open work permit fee)
  • Biometrics $85
  • Funds - $2,500 minimum

4. How Many Times Can I Participate in the Canada Working Holiday Program?

This depends on your country of citizenship. You may be allowed to take part in the program once, however, some countries are allowed to participate twice but will have to apply under a different category or stream.

5. Do I Have to Pay Taxes?

When you work in Canada you will pay between 15 and 29% income tax, depending on the province you're in. This gets deducted from your wage but the good news is that you may be able to claim some of it back!



Your Adventure Awaits!

couple holding hands with backpacks travelling | Working Holiday Visa Canada

Applying for a Canada Working Holiday Visa can be time-consuming and difficult to wrap your head around. With strict deadlines, procedures and requirements, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you your chance to travel and work in Canada. But with the guidance and assistance of one of our knowledgeable Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC’s). the process will be simple and stress-free.

When you choose to use our expert and government trusted service you will get:

  • An in-depth eligibility assessment
  • Guidance on which of 100+ immigration programs and visas to choose from;
  • An immigration plan tailored to your individual needs;
  • A review and submission of all application forms and documentation; as well as
  • Support through every step of the application process.

All you have to do is fill out our application form to receive your eligibility assessment and let us take care of the rest. It’s just that simple! Your Canadian adventure starts here.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date on Canadian immigration and visa news.

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