How to Apply for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa from New Zealand

Some 16 hours and 13,000 kilometres to the northeast of New Zealand, the adventure of a lifetime awaits. New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country, make no mistake about that. There is a reason why The Lord Of The Rings was so epic. But, consider this, New Zealand could fit into Canada roughly 37 times. It would take 58 hours to drive the 9,000 km from Canada’s east to west coast. That’s a lot of ground to explore and a lot to see, do, eat, hear and experience in between. So, how to apply for a Canadian working holiday visa from New Zealand?

The International Experience Canada (IEC) working holiday visa is only available to citizens and permanent residents of certain countries, and there is always a limit placed on the number of times you may participate in the program. As a citizen of New Zealand, you may only participate in the IEC once. So, it is important that you plan well beforehand. Know what you want to see and do, so you can plan your work around your travel plans.

First, we will take a look at what you need to be eligible for the IEC program, and then we will look at some of the exciting things you can experience in Canada.

Eligibility Requirements for an IEC Working Holiday Visa

Winter jobs in Canada-ski instructor

To be eligible for the Working Holiday category, you must:

  • Be a citizen of New Zealand and hold a valid passport, which must be valid for the duration of your intended stay in Canada.
    • The open work permit you will be issued cannot be valid for longer than your passport, and you don’t want to have your stay cut short because of that.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 35.
  • Have at least $2,500 CAD to cover your expenses in Canada.
  • Have health insurance for the duration of your stay, which you may be required to show at border control when you arrive in Canada.
  • Be admissible to Canada - this means no criminal record, no serious health issues.
  • Have a return air ticket to New Zealand, or sufficient financial resources above the required $2,500 CAD to be able to cover the cost of your return ticket.

If you have any dependents, the IEC visa will not allow them to travel with you to Canada.

How It Works

To start the process you will need to create a profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. In most cases (pretty much unless you’ve been to Canada before), you will be required to give biometrics. Your profile is entered into a pool of applicants, from which successful candidates are drawn on a first come, first served basis. If you want to work in Canada within the next 12 months, it is highly recommended that you become a candidate as soon as possible.

If you are successfully selected, you will be invited to apply for the IEC working holiday visa. You will only have 10 days to accept the invitation, and then a further 20 days to apply online for your open work permit.

If you do not respond within the given time frames, and your invitation expires, you will have to create a whole new profile, get accepted into the pool again and be selected again. This is why it can sometimes be helpful to hire a professional to assist in the process. If you choose to decline the invitation due to unforeseen circumstances, it will not have a negative impact on any future applications.

Documents You Will Need
Proof of financial support
Police clearance certificate
Medical exam (only in certain cases)
Digital photo of yourself
Family information form

Processing time is around four weeks, but if there is anything missing, your application will be returned. You may be asked to go for an interview with a Canadian official in your country. It is recommended that you wait until your application is approved before purchasing plane tickets, health insurance or making any other financial decisions.

Winter, Summer or Both in Canada?

Summer jobs in Canada on farms-cherry picking

Winter in Canada

Most working holiday participants love the winters in Canada. It's not just the mountains here that get covered in snow, it’s practically the entire country. This means an abundance of jobs in ski resorts, restaurants and retail stores as tourism thrives from November through to February.

Once you have your working holiday visa, finding a part-time or seasonal job in Canada is a lot easier than you may think. Once you have secured your open work permit there are a lot of different opportunities and once you have landed one, you’re on your way. You don’t have to pay placement companies exorbitant amounts to commit you to a working situation you know nothing about, not to mention some of them take a cut of your income.

Be sure to pack warm, we know it gets cold down south, but up north is a whole different ball game. Average daytime temperatures are around -10 degrees celsius and at night it typically plunges to around -15. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Whistler or Banff, you’ll be dealing with around that temperature range.

While travelling in Canada is very doable in winter, we would recommend holding out for the summer. Enjoy your job and discover your area, earn some good spending money and plan out an epic road trip for when the snow melts and nature starts to show off in spring. You’ll have poutine to keep you warm as well as live music and friendly people at your local bar to keep you entertained.

Summer in Canada

The summer is a great time to travel the country. The balmy days and green countryside make for some of the best road trip backdrops you could ever ask for. Popular jobs for IEC visa holders in summer include ranch hands, harvesters, delivery drivers and camp counsellors. Minimum wage in most provinces is around $13 an hour.

To hire a car in Canada costs between $40 and $50 a day. If you’re planning to take a really long trip, you may even consider buying a car. You can pick up a fifteen year old sedan or pick-up truck in Canada for under $4,000 easily, which you can at least sell at the end of your journey to recoup some of your costs.

Another reason you want to travel through Canada in the spring and summer months is that you are able to camp a lot more comfortably, which will save you a lot of money on accommodation. If camping isn’t your slice of blueberry pie, hostels are a great cost-saving alternative to motels.

How Long Can You Stay in Canada?

The IEC working holiday visa is typically valid for 12 months to citizens of New Zealand, so you could spend a year working and travelling all over Canada, experiencing both seasons and everything in between. There is now an option to extend your IEC visa for up to 24 months if you want to stay in Canada for longer.

Road trip through Canada with a working holiday visa

Applying for Your IEC Visa

There is a fair amount of healthy competition when it comes to the Canadian working holiday visas from New Zealand and other participating countries around the world. It is important to get your application in early, ensure that it is faultless and that you stay on top of the process. If you can’t, but want to work and travel in Canada, enlist the services of someone who can. The IEC working holiday visa is one of the best ways to see and explore everything the Great White North has to offer, and the experience will also count massively in your favour if you ever decide to immigrate to Canada.