This article is updated for the 2016 IEC Canada Visa program.
The IEC Canada visa is by far the easiest way to travel and work in Canada.
The programs for the UK, Ireland, Germany, France and elsewhere have been selling out in recent years. It’s important that you’re prepared to avoid disappointment.
The 2016 program features significant changes to the application process. Previously, a first-come, first-served system operated, meaning it was a good idea to apply as soon as immigration authorities opened the program, as they often sold out in a matter of minutes.
Now, candidates can begin their application at any stage over a number of months, and some will be selected at random, through selection draws at various intervals, to complete their application and receive a work permit.
However, the numbers of visas are still limited. It therefore remains a good idea to become a candidate as early as possible, in order to be exposed to a greater number of these draws and stand the best chance of success.
Read more at our updated links for 2016:
- Our guide to the IEC Working Holiday Visa
- CIC announcement about the 2016 changes
- More information and analysis on the 2016 program
- Couples may face long wait for news under new IEC Canada visa rules
- January 18 update: more IEC rounds announced
For answers to some of the frequently asked questions, see more below.
Disclaimer: We recommend contacting CIC directly for assistance. Please take appropriate action to verify anything you’re unsure of before relying solely on the information provided here.
The guidelines for the IEC visa can vary between countries, so please double-check with the official IEC Canada visa website for your country. This FAQ article is designed to complement the existing FAQ documents available through the IEC website.
Note that using external agencies to apply for an IEC visa does not guarantee successful participation, and in some cases can make it less likely that you’ll get a place.
For additional help:
- Join the Moving2Canada IEC Working Holiday Visa Facebook group
- Like Moving2Canada on Facebook to stay updated on all current issues
Special thanks to Gemma Taylor who has assisted us in creating this article. Read her step-by-step guide to the IEC application process for more.
IEC Canada Visa: Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does IEC and CIC stand for?
A: IEC stands for International Experience Canada. It’s the initiative through which a number of visas for young people are offered, such as the Working Holiday Visa.
CIC stands for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the government department responsible for these visas. It was re-branded under the recently-elected government as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, however the CIC name is still used in practice. You may see CIC and IRCC used interchangeably to describe the same thing.
Q: When are IEC programs for each of the 32 participating countries due to open?
A: All countries and programs (Working Holiday, Young Professionals and Internship) opened for the 2016 program in late 2015.
Q: What is a ‘pool’?
A: A ‘pool’ is the new name given to the different country and category types that are on offer. There are currently three types of IEC visa – the Working Holiday Visa, the Young Professional Visa, and the International Co-Op visa.
So for example, ‘Ireland: International Co-Op’, ‘UK: Working Holiday’, and ‘Germany: International Co-Op’ are all different types of pools.
You can become a candidate in as many as you are eligible for, though most applicants will likely only choose one.
Q: What is an ‘invitation to apply’, or ‘ITA’?
A: A selection of candidates will be invited at random, and at various intervals, to complete their application for a work permit. These will occur in what are known as ‘draws’, or ’rounds of invitations’.
When you receive notification of this via MyCIC, it is known as an ‘invitation to apply’, sometimes abbreviated to ‘ITA’
Q: How many visas are released in each draw?
A: The million-dollar question! Immigration authorities say this ‘varies’ from draw to draw, and won’t commit to an exact figure.
Q: How much time will I have to apply?
A: Under the old first-come, first-serve system, allocations sold out in a matter of days – sometimes, even hours. The new system allows for people to become a candidate at any stage before visas in their pool run out.
However, it is recommended to become a candidate as soon as possible, so that you can be exposed to as many rounds of invitations as possible.
CIC 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.
Q: What can I do to ensure my place?
A: You can research the requirements and ensure that you have the appropriate documents and information ready at hand. External agencies cannot guarantee you a place and will charge you to fill out the forms.
Q: When my visa expires, can I apply for another one? Perhaps, in a different category?
A: Find the answer for your country and category at this page.
In Ireland and the UK, applicants currently receive a two-year visa. However, until recently, those eligible received two separate one-year visas.
One of the effects of this transition is that those who have only availed of one one-year visa, may be eligible for a second visa, with the current duration of two years, therefore giving you three years in Canada.
Q: What steps are involved in the application process?
A: There are four main stages:
1. Determine eligibility
2. Become a candidate, and become placed in a pool(s)
3. Receive an ITA
4. Apply for a work permit
Q: At what point do I make a payment?
A: For working holiday visas, it will be necessary to pay a participation fee of CAD$150, and an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100.
This occurs after you receive your ITA and you’ll be asked to submit this as part of your application for a work permit. Payment is required before your application is assessed.
Note: Payment is made via credit/debit card. There will be a currency conversion fee automatically applied. You will receive a receipt for your records but you do not need to sign anything.
Q: Is there a way to apply for an IEC visa as a couple or a group, rather than waiting to see if you both get your ITA separately?
A: Each participant must submit their candidate profile based on their own merit. There is no mechanism to apply to the pool as a group.
Under the previous first-come, first-served system, friends and couples intending to travel together would have gotten an immediate indication of their success. However, under the new system for 2016, applicants will need to wait for their separate ITAs.
Q: Is there any way I can boost my chances of receiving an ITA?
A: Selection is done randomly, and all eligible candidates stand an equal chance of being selected in any given draw. Furthermore, previous participation in IEC programs is not a consideration of the random invitations.
It is recommended that you apply early, so as to become exposed to a greater number of draws, as this may improve your likelihood of receiving an ITA.
Q: Are there any programs for people who are older than 35 years?
A: Participation in IEC programs is for those aged between 18 and 30, or up to 35 for certain countries.
Q: Do I need a police certificate from Canada if I worked and lived there for 11 months last year?
A: Police certificates for the IEC are only requested for certain countries if required in the bilateral agreement and only at stage four of the process – Apply for a Work Permit.
Q: How long will it take to process my work permit application?
A: CIC have committed to a service standard of eight weeks from the completion of your work permit application, and payment of relevant fees.
Q: How long do I have to enter Canada once my application is processed?
A: After your application is processed, you typically have one year to enter Canada and activate your work permit.
If your application is successful, you will receive a Port of Entry, or POE, introduction letter. This letter indicates the exact date by which you must enter Canada.
Note: ‘Port of Entry’ is the technical term for an official border crossing, e.g. an airport, ferry port, land border with the United States.
Q: I have an urgent query and need to talk to someone in the CIC. How do I contact them?
A: Case-specific inquiries can be made at this page.
Q: What advice do you have for filling out the IMM1295 form?
A: If you have not applied to immigrate to Canada before you will not have a UCI number.
You will have a UCI number if you have applied before. The UCI number is on your previous immigration documentation, including the item that was stapled into your passport on arrival.
If some of the questions do not apply to you, write “N/A” to show that you have read the form.
- It will ask you when you wish to arrive in Canada: you may put tomorrow’s date or a date several months in the future. It will not matter — your work permit will start from the date you actually enter Canada.
- If you do not have enough room to list all the employment history that Immigration Canada are looking for you can add more in the optional documents under Letter of Explanation.
- It will ask for details of work in Canada. Put “unknown” — you do not need arranged employment for this particular permit but it is a generic form, so it asks.
- Upon completion, enter the date on the form and click VALIDATE. You do not need to sign this form. You must then save the form to your desktop and upload.
Q: And what about the Family Information form IMM5707?
A: Family form may be IMM5707 or IMM5645 (this one has siblings). Applicants can use either.
You do not sign it, just date it. When you finally submit (once you have received your CAL) you will fill in a declaration which deems you to have electronically signed the whole application. You do not need to print them, sign them and scan them in again.
For Irish candidates, the police certificate can be obtained from your local police station, not from the vetting department. Citizens of other countries can find more information on this CIC page.
The photo requirements are clearly explained on the website.
The Schedule 1 IMM5257 form is required for those who have answered yes to questions 3-6 on the final page of the IMM1295 form.
You will be asked to digitally sign your application. This “signature” has to match exactly the name you used when filling out the IMM1295 form. There should be no additional fee to pay. You have already paid it when applying to the IEC.
Keep a record of the various numbers you have been given by IEC and CIC and always back them up in more than one place.
Q: What were the recent changes to the IEC Canada visa program for Ireland?
A: Ireland’s allocation has increased substantially over the past number of years, from 5,350 in 2012, to 10,700 since 2014. Successful applicants receive a two-year work permit.
A habitual residency clause previously existed, but was abolished for the 2013 IEC visa programme. Applicants no longer need to meet the 18 months out of 36 residency rule.
Q: My first IEC visa expires soon. There will likely be a gap before I get my second IEC visa accepted. What do I do?
A: There is a lot of confusion over this issue.
CIC state that you should change your status to visitor, which allows you to stay in Canada on “implied status” but you are not allowed to work. Not changing your status goes against the integrity of the program.
We do not recommend the practice of applying for an extension of your work permit as a means of buying time.
If you make an application for a work extension with no formal grounds for it to be accepted (i.e. no LMO/PNP/CEC application number), it is frowned upon by authorities.
It is essentially cheating the system and immigration officers will not be impressed. More information is available on this page — Temporary resident visa extension.
Q: My first year IEC visa is due to expire later this year. When do I need to apply for my second IEC visa (if applicable)?
A: Apply immediately to ensure you get a visa. Your new visa can be activated as soon as your first visa expires so this will allow you to transition to year two with no stress.
Q: My passport is scheduled to expire during the period of my IEC visa. What should I do?
A: You have two options:
- If you keep your current passport, you will only be issued a work permit valid until the expiry date of your passport.
- Another option is to apply for the 2016 initiative with a current passport, but enter Canada on a new, renewed passport. When entering Canada, you must notify the border service officer of this change so that a work permit may be issued in accordance with your new passport information. We recommend that you bring a photocopy of previous passport along with your current valid passport for presentation at the port of entry.
Q: My IEC visa expires soon. My employer has applied for a LMIA on my behalf but this could take months. Can I continue working beyond the expiry date?
Implied status will only come into effect for the application of a work permit, not the LMIA. A LMIA is issued by Service Canada, a completely different body from Citizenship & Immigration Canada.
If the LMIA application is accepted and an application for a work permit is made before the IEC expires, then they can apply for a temporary resident visa extension.
If you have LMIA acceptance, it will be approved and you can continue to stay in Canada on the conditions of the new work permit. If there is no LMIA on file, the application will be refused quickly and you will have to change status to remain as a visitor until the LMIA is issued and a new work permit can be applied for.
Q: Do I need travel insurance for a second participation on IEC?
You must have travel insurance for the second year of the IEC. Provincial health cover (e.g. MSP in British Columbia or OHIP in Ontario) is not accepted as it does not cover repatriation costs (i.e. costs incurred to fly you home in event of serious illness or death).
Insurance must cover the full duration of the work permit. Find out where to buy travel insurance here.
Q: What address should I use for my “mailing address” and “residential address” on my IEC application form?
A: The “residential address” on the IEC application is the address where you are currently residing.
For example, if you are currently in Canada participating in the IEC and are submitting a new application, it is recommended you insert your Canadian residential address on the application form in this field.
Q: How do I apply for the second year IEC working holiday visa in Canada when I’m already in Canada?
A: The application for a second working holiday visa in Canada should be completed in the same way as a new applicants. This will be a second participation in the programme, not an extension of the original permit.
The one change is that your mailing address will be your Canadian address. For UK applicants, it is treated as an application from your home country because the applicant is deemed to be “habitually resident” in their home country if they have been living outside of the country for less than 18 months in the past three years.
Q: Do you need to get a police cert from Canada if living here for the past 12 months?
A: A police certificate from Canada is only required when specifically requested.
A minority of applicants will be asked for one. Some local police stations will issue them, but to guarantee that you obtain the correct certificate from the federal police you should apply to the RCMP. This will require fingerprinting, which you can get done by following this advice.
Q: I have my POE letter and flight booked. What do I need on entering Canada?
- Travel and repatriation insurance for the entire duration of your work permit.
- A bank statement (no more than 7 days old) showing proof of funds in the amount of $2,500 Canadian dollars.
- Up-to-date passport.
- Your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction letter from the IEC.
For more information:
- Please ensure you refer to our IEC Canada Visa Overview
- If you need to contact the IEC directly, you can do so at email@example.com, or submit a case-specific inquiry at this page.
- Discuss the application process with other applicants at the Moving2Canada IEC Working Holiday Visa Facebook Group
- Join our Network and we will send you our monthly Moving2Canada Newsletter. Our Newsletter will keep people up to date on immigration issues, employment updates and more!
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