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So, you’ve decided to move to Canada on an IEC working holiday.

Great, it’s a wonderful country with so much to offer. From the wild and rugged west coast to the massive metropolises of Toronto and Montreal, you will be able to plot a Canadian path that best suits your professional and personal needs. However, before you can fully enjoy Canada, you need to make sure to plan your journey effectively and avoid any of the following mistakes commonly made by IEC Working Holiday applicants.

Watch our detailed video guide to prepare for your Working Holiday Visa in Canada:

1. Not landing within 12 months of receiving your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction

You may have already applied for, or received, a document called a POE Letter of Introduction. If so, congratulations! This is your golden ticket to Canada, as you’ll need to present it on arrival in order to receive your work permit. However, what you may not know is that in almost all situations you have to land in Canada within 12 months of receiving the POE Letter of Introduction. Many applicants move to Canada as soon as they get this letter, but others may want to complete a study program, wrap up work, or build up their bank balance before arriving in Canada. But if you wait too long, your Canadian dream may be over before it even begins – you simply must arrive within 12 months. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for your move once your POE Letter of Introduction arrives.

2. Taking out a shorter insurance policy, or no policy at all, for your move to Canada

Another error that we see far too often from IEC applicants is the decision to take out an insurance policy that doesn’t cover the total duration of time in Canada they would otherwise be entitled to. So for example, if you’re from a country that has a 24-month working holiday agreement with Canada — such as Australia, Ireland, or the UK — but your insurance policy covers, say, 18 months, then your work permit validity may only be for 18 months, rather than 24, meaning you’re throwing away six months of time to live in, work in, and explore Canada.

Worse than that, we have also encountered individuals who have decided to take out no insurance policy whatsoever. The rules on this are clear – you must show a travel insurance policy covering the full duration of your work permit if you want to stay for up to 12 or 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship and category. If you fail to purchase an insurance policy then you run the risk of not being given a work permit at all. Similarly, if you decide to purchase a policy that doesn’t cover the duration of your stay then you may be issued a work permit to match your insurance policy, rather than the eligible work permit duration outlined in the agreement between Canada and your home country.

If you want to find the most affordable and comprehensive IEC health insurance coverage, we recommend checking out BestQuote Travel Insurance. BestQuote allows you to compare insurance rates for different providers so you can find the best one for your needs — get started with a free quote here.

3. Waiting until the last minute to submit an important document on your IEC application

Whether it’s making sure that your biometrics are submitted on time or guaranteeing that all your police clearance certificates are properly gathered and submitted, it really pays to not leave any part of your IEC application to the last minute. Nobody wants to be “that one person” who missed out the adventure of a lifetime or a great career opportunity in Canada because their WiFi crashed or the postal service was on strike that day. Don’t take unnecessary risks when it comes to your IEC application: make every effort to gather and submit items well before the deadline.

Key resource: Find out the timelines and deadlines for an IEC application.

4. Failing to acquire your police certificate(s) before an invitation, then scrambling to meet the deadline

As you may be aware, a police certificate is one of the most important parts of your IEC application. You need to submit a police certificate for any country that you’ve resided in for more than six months since the age of 18, and if this is not your home country, or the country that you are currently living in, then this process could take more time than you think. Avoid this stress by acquiring your police certificate in advance of your invitation to apply for the IEC program. Keep in mind however that some police certificates may expire. For example, if you go back to one of the countries you submitted a certificate for, before you’ve had the chance to apply for your IEC permit, you will need to ask for a new police certificate from this country.
If you have so but are still waiting, then you may upload a copy of the receipt showing you requested one, or a screenshot of the confirmation page or email you received when you ordered it online.

Key resource: Police certificates for IEC.

5. Not planning your next steps

Starting your Canadian adventure is definitely thrilling. But, it’s important not to let that excitement keep you from thinking about and planning for how it will eventually end. The IEC program offers great freedom, but without a solid plan for work, travel, and what comes next, you might find yourself a bit lost as your visa’s expiration date gets close. Whether you’re planning to return home or hoping to stay in Canada, getting to know the different visa options early is crucial for a smooth transition. Each visa has its own set of requirements, from work experience to specific conditions set by provinces, and they can be quite different. So, you want to make sure you know your options as early as possible to guide your journey from the start. Whether you’re looking to extend your stay or become a permanent resident.

Key resource: How to stay in Canada after your IEC permit

And that’s a wrap. Of course, there are multiple other mistakes you should avoid to ensure that your IEC journey runs smoothly but these are five of the biggest errors to steer clear of. For further information on the IEC process and how to avoid some unwanted surprises, visit our dedicated IEC section.


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About the author

Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of experience and a strong legal background. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.

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