How to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Canada in 2023

February 1, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Are you thinking of taking the opportunity to work and travel in 2023? Have you thought of Canada as a possible destination for exploring this opportunity? If so, then International Experience Canada (IEC), a departmental branch of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has a immigration program that is just the right fit for you.

What is a Working Holiday Visa?

The IEC has a working holiday visa program that caters to international/foreign youth by providing them with the opportunity to live and work in Canada. The duration of the working holiday is about 1 to 2 years but opportunities for extending this period are available.

Should you be eligible to apply, you will be granted an open work visa in which you can obtain work anywhere in Canada, allowing you to travel and explore any destination of your choice. Most jobs offered within the working holiday visa program are menial, which means that they require very little to no work experience.

However, should you possess the requisite education, skills and experience for work that is highly in-demand in Canada, you can be recruited directly by a Canadian company that gives you a job offer (if that company is in possession of an LMIA) or by a Provincial Nominee program through the offer of an invitation to apply.

It is important to note that the application window for the IEC Working Holiday Visa program is not open all-year round. It has an off and on season which changes from year to year as per IEC directive with regard to immigration targets. For 2023, the application window opened in January with the opening of the pools.

A Step by Step Guide on how to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa?

The first step you need to take before applying to the IEC for the Working Holiday Visa program is to establish whether or not you’re eligible to apply. Eligibility to apply is mostly limited to youth who come from countries that have a youth mobility program.

Youth mobility programs fulfill the same function as International mobility programs. It allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers/students without needing to show that they tried to source and/or hire local labor and talent through the possession of a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) document.

If you’re not sure that your country has a youth mobility program which makes you eligible to apply, the IRCC has compiled a list of countries that shows definitively which countries youthful citizens can and cannot apply. The following table depicts a complete and simplified version of the list of eligible countries.

Eligible Countries in the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program
Australia Austria Belgium
Chile Costa Rica Croatia
Czech Republic Denmark Estonia
France Germany Greece
Hong Kong Ireland Italy
Japan Korea, Rep. Latvia
Lithuania Luxembourg Mexico
Netherlands New Zealand Norway
Poland Portugal San Marino
Slovakia Slovenia Spain
Sweden Switzerland Taiwan
Ukraine United Kingdom

If your country is listed in this table, then you may apply for a Working Holiday Visa. If it is not, then don’t worry, there is another way to establish your eligibility. Canada allows youth that have registered with the following recognized organizations (which also selectively allows certain countries to register) to become eligible to apply.

The following provides a list of these recognized countries along with information on the type of work permit you need to possess for each organization, the age target market and which countries youth can register with that organization.


AIESEC Canada is a non-profit organization that helps develop leadership in youth.

Types of work permits: Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 30

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, Brazil, India

GO International

GO International is a Canadian organization that offers work and travel opportunities.

Types of work permits: Working Holiday (open work permit)

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, the United States

International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)

IAESTE offers opportunities in technical career-related jobs.

Types of work permits: Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

International Co-op (Internship) (employer-specific work permit) for students

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries and other IAESTE country partners

A-Way to Work/International Rural Exchange Canada Inc.

Through A-Way to Work, the non-profit International Rural Exchange Canada offers paid opportunities to young people in.

  • Agriculture
  • Hospitality
  • Culinary arts
  • Tourism
  • Horticulture
  • Landscaping
  • Other sectors

Types of work permits: Working Holiday (open work permit)

Young Professionals (employer-specific work permit) for career development

Target Market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories only

Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)

Memorial University offers internships for students and recent graduates.

Types of work permits: Working Holiday (open work permit)

International Co-op (Internship) (employer-specific work permit) for students

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories only


Stepwest offers work experiences ranging from paid ski resort jobs to industry-specific student internships.

Types of work permits: Employer-specific (closed) work permit

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories only

SWAP Working Holidays

SWAP Working Holidays helps with working holidays and young professional work and travel opportunities.

Types of work permits: Working Holiday (open) work permit

Target market: Youth aged 18 to 35

Eligible to: IEC countries/territories, the United States

The next step after establishing your eligibility to apply via your country’s involvement with Canada’s International Mobility Program involves establishing yourself as a candidate. This entails mainly two things:

The answers you provide during the eligibility test will be used to determine which IEC pool you will be placed in among the three IEC categories: Working Holiday, Young Professionals and International Co-operative (Internship).

Note that there is one pool of eligible candidates per country and per category. You can submit your application profile to any one of the pools or more than one pool. As a candidate in one or more of the pools you will need to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) before you can apply and receive a work permit.

If you receive an ITA and your application for a work permit is approved, you will receive a Port of Entry letter of introduction from the IRCC in your profile account.

Discretion with regards to allowing entry lies solely with the officers of Canada border services.

Thorough and comprehensive outline of the beginning stages of the application process.

Important caveats regarding ITAs and work permit applications.

Once you grasp the deadlines for your application, you’ll need to apply online. Here are some tips to ensure that you don’t needlessly hinder the process of your application being successfully processed on time and in an expedient manner.

  • Take an eligibility test to see if you meet the minimum qualifying criteria
  • Create a free online IEC profile if pass the eligibility test
  • Applicants in pools have 10 days to accept the ITA if they receive it. The specific deadline is contained within the invitation.
  • From the moment you accept your ITA you’ll have 20 days to apply for your work permit.
  • If your deadline to accept your ITA expires, you’ll have to recreate your IEC profile and be accepted into a pool again before you can be considered for any further ITAs.
  • If you’re accepted into an IEC pool you’ll need to consider getting your supporting documentation in order i.e. police certificates in the anticipation of the likelihood that if you are issued an ITA and you accept it, you can quickly apply for a work permit with the requisite documents within the allotted 20 day deadline.
  • If you’re not given an ITA, you’ll stay within the IEC pool until the end of the application season and/or you’re no longer eligible for IEC. In each case you’ll be notified via your IEC profile account about the expiration of your application.
  • You’ll have to wait until the next application season opens the IEC pools for new applicants and recreate your application if you’re still eligible to apply for another chance at acceptance.

Your application needs to be accompanied by supporting documentation. This is a listed guideline of all the required documents you’ll need as outlined by the IRCC.

Should you be successful in providing all of these documents then you may proceed in paying the required application fees. Application fees are mainly broken down into the fee paid to the IEC and then the category (Working Holiday, Young Professionals etc.) fees. The IEC working holiday fee is 167 Canadian dollars (C$) and the category fee is 100 C$.

It is important to note that although it has not yet become firmly institutionalized, conducting and submitting results of your biometrics test is becoming an imperative. You will need to do this if you receive a biometrics instruction letter (BIL).

Thorough information breakdown regarding biometrics testing and submission.

After you have finished applying, you can check the progress of your application by using the check status tool provided by the IRCC on the Canadian government website.

During the processing of your application you may still be asked to submit more documents and/or attend an interview with an officer.

Please wait until the approval of your application before you decide to.

If your application is approved, you'll receive a Port of Entry letter of introduction from IRCC via your IEC profile account which you need to show to the border services officer when you arrive in Canada.

Why Choose to go on a Working Holiday in Canada?

Work Opportunities

A Working Holiday Visa provides recipients with the opportunity of a lifetime. While navigating the enriching Canadian workspace and labor market, you’re also able to explore the rich socio-geographical history of the Canadian nation. The work experience gained while working in Canada will be very advantageous for your future work prospects as the skills you would have gained are very marketable internationally, allowing you to work in any country of your choice.

You will also be in a better position to obtain permanent residency (PR) status in Canada (with all the benefits it provides) through your eligibilty for the Canadian Experience Class program with the Express Entry system.

Natural Wonders and Beauty

The Canadian landscape is second to none when it comes to natural beauty, which varies broadly from starkly cold tundra to lush flatlands and fertile plateaus. Each of these landscapes offer up their own unique form of adventure and entertainment in the form of ice skating, mountain biking/climbing, hiking, bungee jumping, white river rafting etc.

Diverse Population and Experiences

Lastly, immersing yourself in Canada’s complex and rich multicultural diversity is an experience that can broaden perspective and make you a fuller human being. The abundance of cultural festivals (book, film, heritage etc.) will provide you with an experiential embarrassment of riches that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

How can we Help you to Apply?

As is evident from the information imparted above, the process of applying for a work Holiday Visa is a long and complicated process that can be fraught with frustrating pitfalls at almost every state of the application.

To help guide you through this process it is recommended that you use the services of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) or RCIC affiliated immigration consultancy company like Multi-dimensional Consultants (MDC).

MDC will liaise on behalf of applicants with regards to providing and assisting them with eligibility testing, deadlines, fees and collecting and submitting the requisite supporting documentation. MDC will also get you in touch with a licensed and authorized RCIC agent who will steward your application towards an expedient and successful end.


Does the MDC facilitate the procurement of Health Insurance on behalf of Clients?

MDC does not offer Health Insurance procurement services on behalf of clients.

Can you still be eligible to apply for a Working Holiday if your country doesn’t have a youth mobility program or is affiliated with one of the Recognized Organizations?

Unfortunately no. You cannot.

What are the most common jobs taken by recipients of the Working Holiday Visa program?

Common working holiday jobs include waiters/waitresses, cleaners, homecare work, bartending etc.