Canada Working Holiday Visa - Overview
The Canada Working Holiday Visa is one of many work permits that Canada offers U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals. It comes under the banner of International Experience Canada (IEC) whose purpose is to allow young adults to gain valuable experience and knowledge of Canada.
IEC provides work permits to young people from around the world that enable them to live and work in Canada for a temporary period. The popular Working Holiday visa (also called Working Holiday Work Permit) allows you to stay in Canada for up to 12 or 24 months, depending on your country of citizenship.
There are two ways you can be eligible for an IEC work permit:
- Your country of citizenship must have an agreement with Canada that permits a direct IEC work permit application, or
- You may be able to use the services of a recognized organization (RO).
If you are a U.S. citizen and wish to work and travel in Canada, since the United States is not an IEC participating country, you will need to follow the second option above, i.e. using the services and support of a Recognized Organization (RO).
What is a Recognized Organisation (RO)?
A Recognized Organisation is a youth service organization that offers support to young people with planning their trip to Canada.
An RO can be non-profit, for-profit, or educational, and most of them charge a fee for their services. Their services can include:
- Providing information about Canadian culture, languages, laws, taxes
- Helping you to find a job
- Assisting with travel and transportation
- General support and advice about staying in Canada
If you’re from an IEC country or territory, you can use an RO if you wish, but you don’t have to. However, if you are not from an IEC country or territory such as the U.S., you are only allowed to come to Canada through IEC if you use an eligible RO.
Who can apply
To be eligible for the Canada Working Holiday Visa, you must be from one of the countries listed below. You must also meet the age requirement, which for most countries is 18 to 35 years old, but for some, it is 18 to 29 or 30 years old.
- Australia – between 18 and 30 years old
- Belgium – between 18 and 30 years old
- Chile – between 18 and 30 years old
- Czech Republic – between 18 and 35 years old
- Costa Rica – between 18 and 35 years old
- Croatia – between 18 and 35 years old
- Denmark – between 18 and 35 years old
- Estonia – between 18 and 35 years old
- France – between 18 and 35 years old
- Germany – between 18 and 35 years old
- Greece – between 18 and 35 years old
- Hong Kong – between 18 and 30 years old
- Ireland – between 18 and 35 years old
- Italy – between 18 and 35 years old
- Japan – between 18 and 30 years old
- South Korea – between 18 and 30 years old
- Latvia – between 18 and 35 years old
- Lithuania – between 18 and 35 years old
- Mexico – between 18 and 29 years old
- Netherlands – between 18 and 30 years old
- New Zealand – between 18 and 35 years old
- Norway – between 18 and 35 years old
- Poland – between 18 and 35 years old
- Slovakia – between 18 and 35 years old
- Slovenia – between 18 and 35 years old
- Spain – between 18 and 35 years old
- Sweden – between 18 and 30 years old
- Taiwan – between 18 and 35 years old
- Ukraine – between 18 and 35 years old
- United Kingdom – between 18 and 30 years old.
If you are from the United States (or another country that is not listed), then you will need to gain the support of a Recognized Organization in order to apply.
To be eligible for the Canada Working Holiday Visa, you have to meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of one of the IEC participating countries, or have the support of a Recognized Organisation.
- Have a valid passport for the entire length of your stay in Canada.
- Be between the ages of 18 and 29, 30 or 35 when you apply. (The upper age limit is determined by the applicant’s country of citizenship)
- Have the equivalent of at least CAD $2,500 on arriving in Canada.
- Have health insurance for the full duration of your Working Holiday Visa.
- Be admissible to Canada
- Have a return travel ticket or have enough funds to purchase one after arriving in the country.
- Not be accompanied by dependents
- Pay all required fees
Citizens of some countries have to be resident in the country of citizenship at the time of applying.
How to apply
If you are a U.S. citizen wishing to travel to Canada for a working holiday, below are the steps to take to apply for a Working Holiday Work permit. Note that the only way to apply for an IEC work permit is online.
- Complete the provided questionnaire – this will tell you if you meet the criteria to be accepted into the IEC pools. You can do this by signing in to your IRCC account and selecting “International Experience Canada”. If you don’t have an account yet, you can find out if you’re eligible without signing in.
- Complete your online IEC profile – your answers from the questionnaire will be used to start your profile. To complete your profile, you’ll need your passport. You can exit your profile at any time and your information will be saved. However note that if you don’t complete your profile in 60 days, you won’t be able to submit it and will have to start again.
- For U.S. citizens – when you create your IEC profile, you’ll be asked if you have a confirmation letter that proves an RO is helping you. This is a letter that you must obtain from your RO and upload to your profile.
- Submit your profile. You will be informed which pools are available to you when you complete your profile, and you can submit your profile to any of the available pools. Note that submitting an IEC profile is not an application for a work permit, as you need an invitation to apply (ITAs) to start a work permit application. Once you submit your profile to the selected pool your name will be entered into the draws. Those who have their name drawn will receive the invitation to apply (ITA). The number of Working Holiday visas granted each year is limited, so there is no guarantee that you will receive an invite. Therefore by applying as early as possible you will be exposed to a greater number of draws.
- Submit your Working Holiday Visa application – If you’re invited to apply, you’ll need to apply from within your IRCC account within 10 days. To officially accept the ITA, you need to click the ‘Start Application’ button. Then, you will need to submit all required documents and pay the required fees within 20 days.
IRCC will then inform you of the outcome. If your application is successful, you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) letter of introduction in your account. You will need to take it with you and present it at customs when you land in Canada.
The following supporting documents will need to be submitted in your Working Holiday Visa application:
- Valid passport
- Digital photograph
- Medical certificate
- Biometrics (only required after your visa application is approved).
- Receipts for fees payment
- Police certificate (one for each country where you spent more than 6 months).
- Confirmation letter from your RO, if applicable
How can Total Law help?
Applying for the Working Holiday Visa can be a complicated process, especially if you are going through the application process and gathering documents on your own.
At Total Law, we understand that there is much at stake when thinking about spending some time living in Canada on a working holiday. We are an immigration law firm that provides professional legal services for Canadian work permits and immigration applications. We offer a level of care and legal know-how that will maximize your chances of a successful application.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
The fees that need to be paid for a Working Holiday Visa in Canada are as follows:
- Participation fee of CAD$150
- Open work permit holder fee of CAD$100
Yes, you can leave Canada and re-enter without losing the right to work there.
Your admissibility will be re-assessed each time you enter Canada but if your visa remains valid, you are allowed to leave and re-enter the country multiple times.
Yes, in general, you don’t need to have a job offer to apply for the Working Holiday Visa in Canada. This means that you can seek employment once inside Canada, if you are successful in obtaining the visa.
No, employers who hire IEC participants do not need to complete a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), as IEC is part of the International Mobility Program which is LMIA-exempt.
If you don’t have your POE letter when you arrive at a Canadian port of entry, you won’t be given a work permit. It will be up to the Border Services Officer to decide if you may be admitted as a visitor (tourist), however as s a visitor, you won’t be able to work.