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You've heard about a working holiday in Canada, but you're not sure where to start? Start here. This page explains how to apply for an IEC Working Holiday work permit in Canada.

Key Takeaways

  • Youths from over 30 participating countries can come to Canada for a working holiday.
  • There are three steps to the process to successfully arriving in Canada with a working holiday permit: enter the pool (if you’re eligible), wait for an invitation, and entering Canada. This post covers all three steps.
  • Your work experience on your IEC working holiday can help you gain Canadian work experience, which can be used to support an application to live permanently in Canada through the Express Entry system.
  • The health insurance requirement is more complex than many IEC working holiday candidates realize. Inadequate health insurance might result in your work permit duration being shortened or, in some cases, you may not receive your work permit at all.
  • The cost of a working holiday visa is CAD$357, including $172 for processing fees, $100 for the open work permit holder fee and $85 for biometrics fees.

Watch our detailed video guide.

 

The 2024 IEC season is open as of December 11, 2023.

IRCC is currently conducting rounds of invitations from the IEC candidate pool each week. You can learn more about the weekly draws in our IEC news hub.

Check if you're eligible for the 2024 IEC program by taking our free Canadian Immigration Quiz

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What is the IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada program?

It provides temporary work permits under the International Mobility Program to young foreign nationals from over 30 countries, so they can legally live and get a job in Canada. The permits are usually valid for either 12 or 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship (unless you have inadequate health insurance, more on that later).

Candidates must first create a profile, which notifies Canadian authorities of their desire to receive a working holiday visa in Canada. Successful candidates will receive an invitation to formally complete their application for a work permit, however this success is subject to eligibility and availability.

Who can apply?

View the full list of International Experience Canada participating countries, including the different categories of work permits that are available.

Free, personalized guidance with a Moving2Canada Account

A free Moving2Canada account gives you access to tons of free resources, including checklists with step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a working holiday visa, job matches from Canadian employers looking to hire IEC participants, guides on how to make a Canadian style resume and killer cover letter, and much more!

Once you sign up for free, we’ll show you exactly where and how to create your IEC profile, plus a bunch of other important tasks to help you along the way.

Sign up for a free account here.

How to get a Working Holiday visa in Canada

You can create a profile on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.

Draws take place at regular intervals, where candidates are selected at random to receive an invitation to apply for a work permit, until all places are filled for the year. This means you can create a profile and become a candidate at your leisure, any time after the opening date for your country.

However, your best bet is to become a candidate as early as possible for a working holiday visa in Canada, as this IEC category is particularly popular. This will expose you to a greater number of these draws.

You’ll be asked to enter one or more ‘pools’ as determined by country and work permit category. ‘Australia: Working Holiday’ and ‘Ireland: Young Professionals’ are examples of pools.

IRCC 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.

Here’s how to become a candidate, and receive an invitation to apply for an IEC working holiday visa in Canada.

For a more detailed breakdown on how you can get a working holiday visa in Canada, sign up or log in to your free account.

IEC Canada Eligibility: What Are The Working Holiday Visa Requirements?

To be eligible to apply for an IEC Working Holiday Visa in Canada, candidates must:

  • Be a citizen (passport holder) of one of the 35 countries that have a “bilateral youth mobility agreement” with Canada. In other words, one of the IEC Working Holiday visa Canada participating countries OR be from the United States and apply through a recognized organization.
  • Have a valid passport for the duration of the stay in Canada (the work permit issued will not be longer than the validity of the passport).
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 30 or 35 (inclusive) when your profile is selected from the pool. The working holiday visa age limit depends on the applicant’s country of citizenship, as outlined in our International Experience Canada country list.
  • Have the equivalent of at least CAD$2,500 on landing to help cover initial expenses.
  • Be able to take out health insurance for the full duration of their Working Holiday Visa in Canada (participants will have to present evidence of this insurance at the point of entry in Canada). View providers on our health insurance for Canada page or get a free comparative quote for IEC health insurance.
  • Be admissible to Canada.
  • Have, prior to departure, a round-trip ticket or the financial resources to purchase a departure ticket for the end of their authorized stay in Canada.
  • Not be accompanied by dependants.
  • Pay the appropriate fees of CAD$172, as outlined in the ‘Apply for a work permit’ section below.
  • Citizens of certain countries are also required to be resident in their country of citizenship at the time they apply for their Working Holiday Visa in Canada.

Check out this guide for full details on all the documents you need for your IEC work permit application

Become A Candidate: First Step To Apply For IEC Canada

  • Complete the Come to Canada questionnaire. This is used as an initial assessment of your eligibility for an IEC work permit. If you meet the criteria, you’ll receive a personal reference code.
  • Enter this code to create your account.
  • Build your IEC visa profile.
  • Submit your profile and choose the IEC pool(s) you want to be in. Some candidates will only be eligible for one pool, while some may be eligible for more.
  • At this stage, it’s a case of waiting to be selected, as you’ll need to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) in order to continue the process. Where numbers in the pool greatly exceed the number of permits available, this will reduce your chances of receiving an ITA. Get the latest update on your chances at our Working Holiday Canada news hub.
  • If you receive an ITA, you will have 10 days start your application for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, or to decline the invitation. If you do not accept or decline the  invitation within the 10 days, your working holiday IEC profile will be removed from the pool.

Step Two: Apply for an IEC work permit:

  • Once you press the ‘Start Application’ button to formally accept the ITA, you’ll have 20 days to submit your work permit application and pay any relevant fees.
  • In the IEC Young Professional and International Co-op categories, your employer also needs to pay the CAD$230 employer compliance fee through the employer portal before the 20 days expire. They’ll need to send you the Offer of Employment number they receive so you can enter this in your application.
  • Gather and upload all the documents (e.g. police or medical certificates) requested by IRCC. If you don’t have these immediately, you can upload proof that you’ve applied for a police certificate or medical exam.
  • Pay relevant fees.
  • Submit your application.
  • IRCC will assess your application and may request additional documents.

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Step Three: Enter Canada 

If your application is a success, congratulations! But you’re not quite there yet. 

Next, a letter of introduction (LOI) will be sent to your account. At this point, you can book your travel to Canada (or organize to leave Canada and re-enter). 

To successfully enter Canada on your IEC work permit, you will need to bring all of the documents required for your arrival in Canada

  • Your valid passport.
  • Your Letter of Introduction.
  • Proof of travel insurance (health insurance) for the entire duration of your planned stay. If you are not able to get one policy to cover the entire period, you can purchase two (or more)  separate policies, but you will need to prove that you’re insured for your entire stay. 
  • Proof of at least $2,500 CAD in your account within the last 7 days. 
  • Proof of onward travel or additional funds to leave Canada. 
  • Printed copies of your police certificate. 
  • Details of your country’s IEC treaty. 
  • Proof of medical, if needed. 

You will show these documents to an immigration office at a Port of Entry (POE), such as an airport or border crossing. This is where you will receive your work permit. 

We do really want to stress the importance of adequate health insurance coverage at this point. If you are not adequately insured, you may not receive your IEC work permit at all. If you don’t have health insurance for the entire period, your IEC work permit duration may be shortened. In other words, if you only have insurance for 6 months but you want to stay for 2 years (and that’s what your country’s IEC agreement allows), you will only be able to stay on an IEC work permit for 6 months. 

What are the chances of getting a Working Holiday work permit?

Your chances of getting a Canadian working holiday visa depend on the country you are applying from. Some countries are more competitive than others. Draws from the Working Holiday pool are random, therefore the more people in the pool for your country, the less likely you are to get accepted. Likewise, each country has a different amount of working holiday permits they can issue. If you are from a country with a small quota, you are less likely to be selected.

What can you do to increase your chances of being successful?

Enter the pool now as the 2024 season is open. The longer you are in the pool, the more chances you have of being selected. The Working Holiday permit is the most competitive of the 3 IEC programs. If your country offers the young professional program, try job searching in Canada to secure employment. Applying as a young professional increases your chances of being successful.

What is the age limit for the working holiday visa in Canada?

This depends on the country you are from as each program has a different age limit to participate, either 30 or 35 (inclusive).

Do you need proof of funds to apply for a Working Holiday visa for Canada?

A prerequisite to qualify for the IEC program is to be able to show at least $2500 CAD in funds. There is no need to show these funds as part of your work permit application however when you land in Canada with your port of entry letter to activate your work permit, you must present a bank statement no older than 7 days which shows you have the equivalent of $2500CAD. If you are unable to show this, you will not be issued your Working Holiday permit.

How much does the Working Holiday permit cost?

It does not cost anything to enter the IEC working holiday pool.

You only pay if you are selected and go on to submit a work permit application, at which point you will need to pay the appropriate processing fees.

To get a Working Holiday Visa in Canada, it will be necessary to pay a processing fees of CAD$172, and an open work permit holder fee of CAD$100. In  addition to this, applicants will need to pay an $85 biometrics fee unless they have given biometrics in the 10 years preceding their application. Learn more about biometrics for IEC.

What documents do you need for a Working Holiday visa in Canada?

The documents you need to provide for your Working Holiday permit are quite straight forward. To make it even easier for you, we have come up with a handy guide on what documents you need to have ready for your IEC application.

It’s important that you get adequate insurance for the entire duration of your IEC work permit. Start by comparing prices for IEC health insurance options with a free quote comparison from BestQuote.

How many IEC Work Permits will be issued in 2024?

Canada has not yet updated the quotas for 2024.

However, in 2023 Canada announced there would be around 90,000 IEC work permits issued.

As the IEC is a quota-based system, each country gets a quota on the number of permits it can issue. For instance, Australia has an unlimited number of permits it can issue, the United Kingdom has a quota of 10,000 whereas Italy only has 1,000.

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How many IEC permits will be issued in 2024?

Based on annual trend increases, we can expect the 2024 annual quota to be between 95,000 and 100,000.

Can the work experience I gain on a Working Holiday permit be used to get Canadian permanent residency?

The Working Holiday permit is an open work permit which will allow you to work for any company, in any industry, in Canada, with few exceptions. This gives Working Holiday permit holders the opportunity to legally gain valuable Canadian work experience that can be used to support a permanent residence (PR) application. The type (TEER skill level) of work experience you will need will depend on the PR application you would like to make. For instance, if you are hoping to apply to the Express Entry pool, you will need skilled (TEER level 0,1,2 or 3) work experience. If you are gain lower skilled work experience, you will need to look for Provincial Nominee Programs. Either way, gaining Canadian work experience helps you on your way to become a permanent resident. Note that self employed work experience on the working holiday permit will not count towards your Canadian experience class eligibility.

Can my spouse join me on my Working Holiday visa?

As part of the eligibility criteria, applicants must not be accompanied by a dependant, including spouse or common law partner. however, there are ways your spouse/ common-law partner can join you in Canada.

  1. If they qualify for a Working Holiday visa, they can apply for one in their own name
  2. One you come to Canada and start working on your Working Holiday permit, your spouse or common- law partner could qualify for a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP). A SOWP is an open work permit and will be issued for the same duration of your Working Holiday visa.

As there is a limited number of times you can get a working holiday visa, option 2 is often the best option for many applicants to give flexibility for future use of the Working Holiday program.

Other IEC categories

In countries where it is available, the Working Holiday Visa in Canada category is popular as it provides participants with an open work permit, which they can use to work with any employer. You may be eligible for, and interested in, these other categories:

Young Professionals Program

The Young Professionals category is designed for foreign youth, particularly post-secondary graduates, who wish to further their careers by gaining professional work experience in Canada.

Participants must have a signed employment offer letter or contract of employment with a Canadian employer before applying. If successful, they will be issued an employee- specific work permit.

Read our full guide to IEC Young Professionals Canada work permits.

International Co-op Internship Program

The International Co-op (Internship) category is designed for foreign youth who are enrolled at a post-secondary institution in their country of citizenship.

Applicants must want to complete a work placement or internship in Canada to fulfill part of their academic curriculum and be registered students for the duration of the internship. Permits issued under this category are generally valid for up to 12 months, though some participants may be issued a longer validity due to their citizenship.

Applicants must have a signed job offer letter or contract for a work placement or internship in Canada that meets the requirements of their academic curriculum in their country of citizenship. The eligibility requirements for the Working Holiday Visa in Canada, listed above, also apply to the International Co-op category.

Read our full guide to IEC International Co-op work permits.

Further help with your IEC application

Please explore our many resources to help you plan your application. Research is crucial as you plan for success in Canada.

IEC Health Insurance

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.

Citation "Working Holiday Visa in Canada." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation