What You Should Know About the Canada Working Holiday Visa

February 13, 2023


  • Shireen Fisher

As a young person, you, no doubt, have dreams to venture out into the great unknown to explore new territories and broaden your horizons. After all, the world is your oyster, and travelling has never been easier. But with the current global economic climate, spending months on an adventure abroad may be considered a luxury to most. However, if Canada is on your travel list, the International Experience Canada (IEC) program is your key to unlocking up to 24 months of wandering across the length and breadth of this North American wonderland. In this article, we will go through everything you should know about the Canada Working Holiday Visa.

The IEC Program is a joint program that makes it possible for Canadian and international youth to work and travel extensively in each other's countries. In 2023, this opportunity of a lifetime will be afforded to nearly 90,000 international young adults, as announced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The increase in the volume of candidates allowed is expected to significantly assist in bridging the major skills gaps that plague the country due to a large retiring population, as well as a declining birth rate.

The IEC Program Categories

There are three IEC Program categories to choose from. Let us take a look at each one below.

Working Holiday

If you do not have a job offer and want to be flexible regarding who you work for or where you work, the working holiday would be ideal for you. You will get an open work permit for this program, allowing you to work for almost any employer in Canada (some exceptions apply).

Note: You may need to have a medical exam first for certain positions.

Young Professionals

If you have a job offer in Canada that will contribute to taking your skills up a level, with one employer in one location, the Young Professionals category is the one to go for. You will have to receive a salary or wage for this particular category and cannot be self-employed. You will get an employer-specific work permit, and your employer must comply with the labour laws of the province or territory in which you will be based.

National Occupational Classification 2021: On November 16, 2022, the IRCC switched to the 2021 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). To qualify, the position you will be working in will have to fall within one of the Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) categories - 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the NOC.

International Co-op Internship:

If you are a registered tertiary institution student with a job offer or internship in Canada, who plans to work for one employer, in one location for the duration of your stay, you can apply to this category. The internship must tie in with your field of study, and you will get an employer-specific work permit. Your employer's wage and labour practices must be in line with that of the province and the labour code of the region you will play a role in whether the internship will be a paid one or not.

Who Can Apply to the IEC Program

Before applying to the IEC program, it is important first to check whether you are eligible to do so. For you to take part in the IEC program, your country or territory must have a Youth Mobility Agreement with Canada. If this is not the case for you, it may be possible to access the program with the help of a recognized organization.

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

Who is Not Eligible For the IEC Program?

  • Refugees: The IRCC states that you will not be able to participate in this program even if you have obtained a refugee travel document from a country that is a partner in this program.
  • Dependents: Your dependents will not be able to join you when you travel to Canada on the IEC program. They can, however, still visit you or study or work in Canada through their own applications.
To check your eligibility, connect with one of our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC), who will guide you through the application process and all requirements.

How the IEC Pools Work

Your profile will remain in the IEC pool until:

  • You obtain an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a work permit
  • Your profiles are removed from the pool(s) at the end of the season
  • You no longer qualify for the IEC program

Invitations are given to candidates in the IEC pools within the IEC season. Make sure you stay abreast of schedule updates to check:

  • The start and end dates for the rounds of invitations.
  • The number of candidates to be accepted into pools
  • What your chances of obtaining an invitation are for the current season

You are allowed to submit an IEC profile throughout the IEC season. You must, however, make sure that it is submitted before the date of the last round of invitations for your country to receive your Invitation to Apply to get a work permit.

How to Become an IEC Candidate

To be able to travel and work temporarily in Canada via the International Experience Canada (IEC), you will first have to become a candidate in one or multiple IEC pools. It is a good idea to get this done as soon as you can to get your Canadian adventure started as soon as possible.

Step 1: Answer the Questions Provided to Establish Eligibility

Fill in the provided questionnaire to determine whether you qualify for pool entry. You will have to provide information about:

  • Your country of citizenship
  • The country you are a permanent resident in
  • The country you currently live in
  • Your student status (if relevant)
  • You offer of employment (if relevant)

Step 2: Finish Your Online IEC Profile

If your questionnaire outcome is positive, you may submit your IEC profile online. One of our RCICs will be available to guide you through the entire process., should you choose to make use of our services.

Note: If you do not set up your IEC profile in 60 days, you will not be able to complete the submission and will have to go back to the beginning of the process.

Step 3: Make Your Submission

Once your profile is complete, the IRCC will let you know which of the pools are open to you. You will then be able to enter any of these.

Note: Before you submit your profile, make sure you know which category is suitable for you.

Important: Submitting an IEC profile will not mean you have applied for a work permit. You need the invitation to apply to start a work permit application.

What Happens When You Get an ITA?

If you are invited to apply, you will have to use your account to:

  • Apply for a work permit
  • Settle the fees due
  • Review your application status

Should you get an ITA and work permit application approval, you will be given a port of entry letter of introduction that will be sent to your account.

How to Apply For a Work Permit Once You've Accepted Your ITA?

It is important to note that you will not be able to apply for a work permit under the IEC program until you receive an ITA. Once you accept the ITA, there are a number of steps to follow.

Step 1: Be Aware of the Date and Time of Your Deadline

As soon as you accept your ITA, your deadline will be sent to your account. You will have exactly 20 days from the time you accept the ITA to apply for your work permit.

Note: The date and time of the deadline is set to coordinated universal time (UTC), which may differ from your local time. When you use an RCIC, you can rest assured that these dates will be monitored closely to endure that your application is submitted on time.

Step 2: Complete the Relevant Online Form

You will be able to save your information in the online form and keep going back to it until it is complete and ready for submission. You must:

  • Complete it as accurately as possible to avoid delays
  • Include both paid and unpaid work experience
  • Validate" each section to be sure that there are no errors or blank sections

Step 3: Gather All Necessary Documents

Once you complete your application, you will receive a personalized document checklist that details which supporting documents you need to upload. You must then gather the documents and make electronic copies using a scanner or camera. Once these are ready, upload them to the Document Checklist page in your account. Documents that would be required include:

  • Proof of financial support
  • Medical report form
  • Proof of Health insurance
  • Police certificates
  • CV/résumé
  • Passport
  • Digital photo
  • Electronic travel authorization or visitor visa application

Program-specific documents include:

  • International Co-op (Internship): Proof of school registration, Proof that your job is linked to your field of studies, an Internship agreement
  • Young Professionals: Proof of education for jobs in Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) category 4, copies of your qualification

You may be asked for additional documents at a later stage. Make sure all the steps have been completed once each document has been uploaded. You will need to provide an electronic signature and confirm your information for your application to be processed.

Step 4: Pay Required Fees

The fees you will be required to pay will depend entirely on the IEC category you apply to.

  • All participants will have to pay the IEC fee, which is CAN$161 for 2023. If biometrics are required, you will have to pay the biometric fee together with your IEC fee.
  • Working Holiday participants will have to pay an open work permit holder fee of CAN$100.
  • Young Professionals and International Co-op (Internship) participants do not have to pay additional fees. Employers will, however, have to pay a CAN$230 employer compliance fee and send your offer of employment to the IRCC.

Step 5: Submit Your Complete Application

Before you submit your application, make sure you've completed all the above steps. You will not be allowed to apply if all documents have not been included. As soon as you submit your application, the IRCC will verify that:

  • The information you have submitted is factual
  • Your eligibility to work in Canada
  • Your admissibility to Canada

Biometrics: In most instances, you need to have your fingerprints and photo taken after you apply. But make sure you know at which stage you need to have the biometrics done.

Get Ready For the Adventure of a Lifetime

Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime in Canada? With the opportunity to work part-time while you travel in Canada, there is no need to wait to save for a healthy travel budget. Check your eligibility, choose the category most suited to your profile and get your application started! Our senior sales representatives are standing by to assist you with the process of getting your working holiday visa.


Can I Apply to the IEC Program More Than Once?

Certain countries will only allow you to apply to be part of the IEC program once, while others permit additional applications in different categories. Before you apply, check to see whether you are eligible. You will not be able to participate more times than what is permitted by your country.

Will I be Eligible For More Than One Pool?

Yes. While you can have just one IEC profile at a time, you will be eligible for more than one IEC pool.

Will I be Protected by Canadian Laws While on the IEC Program?

As an IEC participant, you will be protected by Canada's labour laws. Your employer will, therefore, have to:

  • Pay you a minimum wage
  • Ensure workplace safety
  • Not withhold your passport or work permit