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Brexit has certainly shaken things up for many in the UK, sparking a quest for fresh starts and new adventures abroad.

Luckily for our Brits, speaking English means plenty of choices for an escape route. This makes adjustments much easier in countries like Australia, New Zealand, or, obviously, Canada. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already considering the latter.

What are IEC program and the Working Holiday Visa?

The IEC program is arguably the most popular pathway for foreign young workers from all participating countries looking to live an enriching experience abroad. It’s a government initiative designed to allow you to work and travel in Canada. A golden opportunity for both personal and professional growth. 

The beauty of the IEC lies in its flexibility and simplicity. It offers three categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals, and International Co-op

The most popular among UK citizens is the Working Holiday Visa. Why? Because it’s incredibly straightforward. You don’t need a job offer to apply, and once you’re in Canada, you’re free to work for any employer, anywhere in the country. 

This freedom opens a world of possibilities, whether you’re seeking to gain work experience in your field or just eager to explore Canada’s diverse landscapes and vibrant culture.

It offers many benefits for UK citizens. 

What are the benefits of the Canadian Working Holiday Visa for UK applicants?

Many countries offer the chance to work and travel freely for a certain time. Most of them are amazing alternatives if you ask any travel junkies out there.

But it’s tough not to see the special perks that Canada has to offer to our British wanderers.

Stay put, this isn’t another ode to the diverse beauties of the country. This article is to list the arguments that make it a no-brainer for UK travellers to seriously consider a Canadian Working Holiday Visa.

Longer Duration of Stay

Australia, Argentina, Ireland, Germany, Chile… Dreamy, right? These are probably places already on your bucket list. They even offer a Working Holiday Visa! Lasting 1 year for British travelers… And this is the case for most of the countries proposing this program.

For UK citizens, the Canadian Working Holiday Visa allows a stay of up to 3 years! Yes. Twice as much.

All the adventures and experiences you’re picturing yourself having while travelling could be doubled in Canada, giving you ample time to enjoy them. A perspective that completely changes the way you would plan your trip.

Working Flexibility

You’re now planning a trip for 3 years. Certainly filled with quite some travelling, but which might require some funding.

It’s important to consider the different working experiences WHV countries might offer.

Some, like Australia and New Zealand, tend to direct WHV participants to specific sectors like agriculture, horticulture and viticulture. Mainly to fill labour shortages. They may even require you to complete a period of farm work to extend your visa.

For many travellers, this drafts an important page of their adventure book—ones filled with fun experiences, amazing stories and unforgettable encounters. But not everyone likes to be forced to work where they don’t want to.

Canada’s approach is different. The Canadian working holiday program tends to focus on a more balanced combination of work opportunities and cultural exchange. One that is free from any obligatory work conditions.

While exploring, flexibility is an advantage you won’t want to give away too easily.

The Tech Talent Strategy allows foreign tech workers to work in Canada.

Diverse Work Opportunities

Flexibility, freedom… Choice! Don’t we all dream of that? Canada’s Working Holiday Visa offers UK citizens the flexibility to work for almost any employer across the vast country.

Whatever your field, you will find a fit.

Seeking corporate experience or creative pursuits? Bustling cities like Totonto or Vancouver are full of opportunities from finance and tech to creative arts and media.

On the other hand, for those drawn to nature and outdoor activities, British Colombia and its famous Rockies, or Nova Scotia’s gateway to the Atlantic Ocean, are filled with options in tourism, fisheries, environmental conservation and more. 

Plus, Canada’s diverse economy means that sectors such as healthcare, education, and engineering are also accessible to those on a WHV

It’s an open work permit, which makes job changes easy! Exploring can also be done professionally and if you want to experiment with different roles or industries during your stay… you’re free

This is true flexibility. And it’s not just about earning a living; it’s about personal and professional exploration in a country known for its welcoming culture and high quality of life.

Cultural Familiarity

Unlike Japan, Chile, Argentina, South Korea or other countries offering Working Holiday Visas, Canada and the UK share some strong common history. And a common language.

This might look like a cute detail but it becomes much more important when you realize that the context of your experience abroad can easily change based on your connexion with the local culture.

For many, travelling is to immerse oneself in foreign lands and cultures. For others, familiarities can help a lot with adaptation.

In or outside the workplace, cultural similarities make it much easier to navigate professional settings or social interactions.

Higher Chances of Getting a Working Holiday Visa

There has been a high demand historically for the WHV from UK citizens, with relatively limited availability, making the application process very competitive.

2024 has come with some important changes regarding accessibility to Canada via IEC for UK travellers:

  • The eligibility age had expanded from 18 to 30 to 18 to 35,
  • Two new streams were added! The Young Professionals and Co-op programs are now open to UK citizens, multiplying the available spots available for British newcomers to Canada.
  • Participants are now able to stay up to 3 years.

Read more: Canada expands IEC for British youth

How to apply for a Canadian Working Holiday Visa from the UK

Check Eligibility

Make sure you have a valid passport issued from the UK. You must also be between 18 and 35.

Create an IEC Profile

Visit the official IRCC website and create a profile. You will have to provide some personal details and select the Working Holiday Visa category.

Enter the Pool

Once your profile is created, you’ll be entered into a pool of candidates. The selection from this pool is usually done randomly almost every week during the opening season for applications.

Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA)

If you are selected from the pool, you will receive an ITA. Note that this is NOT your visa but an invitation to submit your formal application.

Prepare Your Application

Gather all your documents in addition to your valid passport. Proof of funds (CAD 2,500), a return travel ticket (or additional funds to cover one), police certificates, biometrics if required, and health insurance coverage for your stay in Canada.

Submit Your Application and Pay the Fees

Complete the application form, attach all required documents, and pay the applicable fees of CAD$172.

Wait for Processing and Decision

After submission, your application will be processed. The processing time can vary.

Receive Work Permit

If your application is successful, you’ll receive a Port of Entry (PoE) Letter of Introduction.

Read more: You will find all the answers to your IEC related questions on our FAQ page.

Other entry paths for UK citizens to Canada

There are other pathways for UK citizens to immigrate to Canada.

Dive deeper into how to move to Canada from the UK with our complete guide.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
Read more about Rebecca Major
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